Getting Proactive About Your Health As A Senior
The journey through aging is a process we cannot escape, no matter how many trips we make to the spa. Through this experience, it’s important to stay informed on the latest medical research and information as means of living your fullest life while extending longevity. The road toward living one’s best life is multifaceted and ever-changing. Remaining open, and adaptable to changes throughout this process is important for seniors during their golden years. For those of you wondering how to manifest the best—healthiest life, we’ve put together a beautiful list highlighting some proactive health tips for seniors to make in regard to both physical and mental health. Take the aging process by the horns and show it who’s boss!
Prepare for Bodily Changes
It’s no secret that our bodies undergo some significant changes as we age. As part of a proactive approach toward good elder care as we age, it’s important to prepare for certain bodily changes such as:
- Skin: becomes less elastic, and more prone to bruising and dryness over time. It’s important to take excellent care of your skin to combat these changes.
- Joints: lose flexibility and can become inflamed and sore. It’s important to stretch daily to help preserve the joints as long as possible.
- Bones and muscles: lose density over time, increasing the likelihood of breaks and fractures. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help strengthen bones and reduce the risk for injuries.
- Hormonal changes: our bodies go through significant hormonal and endocrine gland changes as we age. This can affect a variety of bodily functions such as metabolism, blood sugar, the thyroid, calcium and vitamin D metabolism, and sex hormone changes. Extra attention to these areas will help as these changes begin to happen.
- Hair, nails, teeth, and gums: these all begin to weaken as we age. Hair becomes thinner and brittle, as do nails and teeth, and the gums may recede. There is less saliva production in the mouth which can lead to a variety of dental problems. A bit of extra attention to these areas can have a big impact over time.
- Vision and hearing: As the eyes and ears age, it becomes more difficult to hear and see as accurately as in the past. This is nothing a hearing aid or prescription lenses cannot fix.
- Taste and smell: these may fade over time causing one to have less of an appetite over time.
- Immunity: this tends to become weaker with age which increases the risk of becoming ill. Taking extra care of one’s nutrition and ensuring they are getting enough vitamins, sleep and exercise are key.
- Loss of bowel or bladder control: it can become more difficult to control when one goes to the bathroom with age.
- Memory: the memory can fade with age, and dementia is a common concern for those requiring senior care. Brain teasers keep the mind strong, as well as omega-3 is important.
- Sleeping patterns: the quality and quantity of sleep a person gets each night can significantly change with age. Getting on a routine sleep schedule can help with this.
Be Proactive Against the Most Common Diseases
There are a variety of diseases that seniors commonly face. Many are related to the bodily changes mentioned above, while others pertain to specific organs such as the heart, kidneys, and lungs. Cancer is another illness to be proactive against over the years. It’s important to get routine check-ups, tests, and screenings over the years to ensure your body is in good health. Some of these include:
- breast, colon, skin and prostate cancer screenings
- bone density scan
- lipid screening
- blood pressure screening
- diabetes screening for those with high blood pressure, cholesterol or obesity
- thyroid test
- vision and hearing exams
- cardiac stress test
- mental health screening
- screenings for any other health-related issues that arise
Make an Effort to Be Social
It’s no secret that the older we get, the more people we know, love, and care about leave. This could be from death, illness, moving, or from not being able to be as mobile as before. Losing friends, family, and loved ones over the years can take a toll on anyone, and it’s very easy for a person who goes through these changes to suffer from loneliness, depression, and isolation. In an effort to combat such effects, it’s important to make an effort to be social more than ever in one’s senior years. Having a social network of support can be one of the healthiest things seniors can do for themselves. Those who have issues with mobility may want to hire a caregiver, or senior service provider to help them get out and be more social.
Make Your Home Safer
While our bodies experience significant changes with age, our homes should follow suit. This doesn’t mean one should have to pad each and every wall and sharp corner, but certain amenities ought to be considered as it pertains to fall prevention, and making life a bit easier around the home. Some helpful ways to make life safer as a senior include:
- installing a shower seat
- using a cane, walker, wheelchair, or scooter
- remove area rugs and replace hard or slippery floors with carpet
- install better lighting to help with vision
- getting a medical alert subscription for emergencies
- consider hiring a caregiver or assisted living provider
While these changes may sound scary or uninvited, they’re something we all face as we travel through the journey of life. It’s important to remember that these are simply precautions to keep in mind, in an effort to have a more full life during your senior years. These years can truly be some of the most fun, enriching years of your life if you take good care of your physical and mental health, and stay proactive.
Cindy Greenfield writes about Senior Health, Wellness and Life-Minded fulfillment. She facilitates and blogs for Cascade Group’s Assisted Living Community in Bellingham.