Health is our biggest asset; as we age, it becomes even more invaluable. Small changes in our routines and habits can yield long-term benefits that we can reap as senior citizens for a healthier and happier life. For this reason, it is essential to instill good habits from a younger age.
Practicing mindfulness in eating, sleeping, and exercising habits, as well as making a concerted effort to maintain a positive mindset, can boost a healthy lifestyle for older persons and reduce healthcare costs.
Getting regular medical check-ups
When we’re old, our bodies can’t heal as fast as they could during our prime. After a certain age, it is essential to go for regular medical check-ups to catch any untoward symptoms that could potentially indicate a bigger problem in the future.
Many working people were victims of toxic substance poisoning when they were young but never knew about it. For instance, asbestos is one of the main culprits for causing terminal illnesses that take years to show symptoms, which is why they can be overlooked.
Factory workers, mine workers, military personnel, and those exposed to high-risk environments are vulnerable to substance poisoning. If you worked near heavy metals, served in the military or the construction business, getting a diagnosis asap is the right thing to do.
Staying physically active
It is essential to keep your heart and mind healthy by keeping yourself active. With age, our mobility and muscle function decreases, and this is aggravated if our body is used to staying in one position with little movement.
The benefits of regular exercise are countless. Experts recommend that senior citizens get at least 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times weekly. After consultation with their physician, senior citizens can determine suitable workouts. By joining a class or exercise program, one can enjoy with others and stay committed.
For example, warding off chronic diseases and pains, improving flexibility, managing weight, improving mental health, boosting metabolism, enhancing cardiovascular health, improving sleep quality, strengthening the immune system, and improving cognitive functioning.
Managing your diet
A healthy, nutritious, and well-balanced diet is essential for all of us, especially senior citizens. A healthy diet works in tandem with regular exercise. As we age, our digestive system weakens, and our metabolic rate also tends to get slowed down. Choosing healthy foods can help us maintain energy levels and prevent chronic ailments like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac diseases.
Incorporating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in each meal and controlling portions is essential, as overeating healthy foods may also be detrimental. It is also better to opt for whole /unprocessed foods as much as possible to avoid hidden sugars, excessive salt, and artificial preservatives.
They also tend to have higher fiber content which enhances digestion and releases energy slowly, so we feel fuller longer, e.g., lentils, beans, whole wheat bread/pasta/flakes, oatmeal, vegetables, and fresh fruits. Nuts, seeds, and dry fruits are also excellent sources of healthy fats and nutrients while serving as an alternative to fatty snacks.
Along with what to eat, it is also necessary to focus on how to eat. Eating slowly, taking smaller bites, and chewing more improves digestion. Instead of rushing through a meal, it is always better to relish the experience and get the maximum benefit from your food.
Keep yourself hydrated
Seniors need to be mindful of their water intake. This seems like a mundane tip, but it has many benefits. Sixty percent of our body consists of water; every cell, organ, and tissue needs water to function correctly.
Generally, we should consume one-third of our body weight in fluids. It is safe for older adults to drink at least 7-8 cups of fluids. There is also a chance that seniors may be taking some medications which increase the risk of dehydration, which can cause discomfort and fatigue.
Staying hydrated is even more critical for those who exercise regularly and sweat a lot. Besides water, fresh juices and herbal teas are excellent choices with minimal caffeine and sugars.
Taking care of your mental health
Along with the body, our brain also takes a toll with age. Instead of indulging in passive entertainment like watching TV or movies, senior citizens can nurture good mental health by stimulating their minds and engaging with their surroundings more positively.
Engaging in group activities is known to prevent memory loss, reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness, and slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
A few simple, affordable and fun ways to stimulate the mind are puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku, playing word games, book reading, keeping a journal, gardening, learning a new language, knitting, baking, painting, sketching, etc.
Spending time with family and friends is a great contributor to emotional well-being. These can be simple activities like conversing over a shared meal or walking with a friendly neighbor. By engaging with others, our physical and mental health automatically improves.
Doing things together motivates people to stick with the habit and helps them stay dedicated. There is a greater chance of making healthier food choices if meals are eaten in a group or with someone close.
Sometimes meeting someone in person is impossible, but staying connected virtually is also beneficial. Communicating through apps like WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime allows us to see and hear our dear ones no matter the distance. More and more people live in nuclear families or move to different cities and countries for better opportunities.
Thus, parents and grandparents often end up living away from their families. In such times, virtual connections are even more critical. Moreover, social media now allows long-lost childhood friends to reconnect, and we can easily correspond with them.
Getting sound sleep
Older adults often find difficulty in falling asleep. Due to less production of melatonin, sleep cycles are disrupted. Moreover, limited physical activity, anxiety, side effects of medicines, frequent bowel movements, being in pain, or an uncomfortable sleep environment (noisy, too warm, or too cold) are other factors that may be causing poor sleep.
However, most of these can be alleviated through simple efforts like reducing water intake a few hours before bedtime, involving yourself in physical activities, meditating, listening to soothing music, or lighting a scented candle.
Most importantly, schedule your bedtime and wake-up time, so your sleep cycle remains in sync.
Building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is within reach for all of us. By making small changes in our routine, commitment towards our well-being, and a positive mindset, all of us can improve our quality of life in our old age. The key is to remain consistent and always prioritize our health above all.