Tips to Help Seniors Stay Healthy

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Healthy Lifestyle to Practice into the Golden Years

9 Steps to Healthy Aging

Growing older doesn’t automatically entail a range of medical conditions or a decline in quality of life. Therefore understanding what’s normal for your body as you age, and what isn’t, is crucial.

Ideally, you’ve been following healthy habits throughout your life. Yet, even if you haven’t, it’s never too late to begin taking proactive steps to maintain and potentially improve your health. Small lifestyle adjustments can yield significant impacts, aiding in the prevention or management of chronic diseases, and keeping your body fit, and your mind sharp. Embracing just a few habits listed here will set you on the path to healthy aging.

Stay active by walking
Walking with someone.
  1. Stay Physically Active for a Healthy Body and Mind

Exercise serves as a counterbalance to many age-related effects. According to Medline Plus, regular exercise enhances balance, mobility, and mood by reducing anxiety and depression, and contributes to better cognitive function. It also plays a pivotal role in managing and potentially reducing the risk of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, breast and colon cancer, and osteoporosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that any exercise is better than none for healthy aging. They recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as swimming or brisk walking) each week, broken down into 30 active minutes a day for five days weekly. Additionally, twice-weekly muscle-strengthening activities are advised. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a list of recommended physical activities.

  1. Stay Socially Active with Friends, Family, and Within Your Community

Actively engaging with family and friends can yield numerous health benefits as you age. Studies indicate that seniors (aged 65 and older) who engage socially experience more positive moods, fewer negative emotions, and higher physical activity levels.

If your social life isn’t active, seek opportunities to reconnect with old friends or make new ones. Explore church groups, volunteer activities, gyms, alumni groups, or any other associations aligned with your interests.

  1. Follow a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet

Maintain a diet rich in whole foods high in fiber and low in saturated fat to provide your body with the necessary nutrition for healthy aging and reduce the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests the Mediterranean diet as an optimal approach. This diet emphasizes olive oil, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish while minimizing red meat, full-fat dairy products, and processed foods.

  1. Don’t Neglect Yourself: Schedule Checkups and Stick to Them

Regular checkups with doctors, dentists, eye specialists, and other healthcare providers are opportunities to detect problems early and address them promptly.

If you have chronic medical conditions, take multiple medications, experience memory or mobility issues, or have recently been hospitalized, consider scheduling an appointment with a geriatrician, as recommended by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Geriatricians specialize in aging care, coordinating treatments, and creating personalized care plans after an initial consultation.

  1. Take All Medication as Directed by Your Doctor
pic of meds Rx

Adhering to prescribed medication is essential. It’s wise to periodically review your medications with your primary care doctor to assess their necessity. Managing multiple medications can pose challenges in remembering schedules and increase the risk of adverse drug reactions and interactions. While stopping a drug should never be done without consulting your doctor, it’s proactive to review the necessity of all prescribed medications. Pharmacists can also provide information on drugs, side effects, and interactions.

  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption

The joint 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services advise limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. They also suggest that less drinking overall is beneficial for health. Studies show that the risk of mortality linked to alcohol consumption increases at levels beyond one drink per day on average for both men and women.

  1. Quit Smoking for Reduced Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease

For smokers, quitting is urgent. Benefits of quitting include lower cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, lung damage, and strengthened bones, muscles, and immune system according to SmokeFree.gov.

  1. Prioritize Sleep

The Sleep Foundation recommends seven to eight hours of sleep per night for individuals aged 65 and older, but individual needs may differ. Aging may shift your sleep patterns, making you sleepier earlier in the evening and wake up earlier. Consulting your doctor for chronic or acute insomnia is recommended to identify underlying issues and explore potential solutions.

  1. Maintain Good Dental Hygiene

The American Dental Association (ADA) advises brushing teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste, daily flossing, and regular cleaning of dentures if used. Besides ensuring oral health, preventing mouth inflammation through good dental hygiene can assist in managing chronic inflammatory conditions like diabetes and heart disease, as per the American Academy of Periodontology.

Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

It’s common to attribute low moods or fatigue to aging, yet these may not solely stem from getting older. Persistent exhaustion or depression isn’t normal at any age. If you’ve lost interest or energy for activities, you previously enjoyed, consult your doctor. It could be depression or another underlying medical issue requiring attention.

Other warning signs to address promptly include:

  • Sudden weakness or dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest pressure
  • Unilateral tingling or numbness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Speech or swallowing difficulties
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sudden or blurred vision loss
  • Unexplained swelling
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Prolonged confusion
  • Slow-healing wounds

Taking these proactive steps toward healthy aging and being vigilant about warning signs can significantly impact your overall health and well-being as you age.

Living in Sacramento and you find yourself in need of a care home or assisted living for a loved one or yourself call a trusted Senior Referral and Placement agency

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