8 Things Seniors Can Do to Take Control of Their Health and Wellness
Health and wellness are important at any age, especially during your golden years. The older we get, the higher the risk of many health conditions becomes. Elderly adults take longer to recover from injury and illness. That’s why prevention should be a top priority.
Frailty and medical conditions can make life difficult. Many older people require assistance with tasks of daily living. Some have a hard time walking on their own or can no longer drive. Meanwhile, some are still very active with little to no physical limitations.
No matter which category you fall into, you should take steps to live as comfortably as possible. That means protecting yourself from illness and injury while still enjoying all that life has to offer.
What can seniors do to take control of their health and wellness?
· Know Your Risk for Illness and Medical Conditions
Everyone is affected by age-related conditions, but some may have a higher risk than others. Medical status and family history can also increase a senior’s chances of developing a condition or illness. Knowing your risks will help you figure out what you need to do to protect yourself as much as possible.
Common conditions that appear as we age include cataracts, hearing loss, osteoarthritis, diabetes, dementia, and depression. Some people also have an elevated cancer risk.
Your doctor can help you gain a better understanding of your risks and what you can do to keep them as low as possible. You may not be able to remove them altogether, but you can try to improve your chances of staying healthy and active for longer.
· Schedule an Appointment with Your General Practitioner
Your general practitioner is your first line of defense when it comes to health and wellness. They should be made aware if you ever notice changes or new symptoms. If you haven’t had a check-up recently, now is the time to schedule an appointment.
Before you go, write down a list of your known conditions as well as any questions and concerns. Show your doctor the list and discuss management and prevention with them. They can help you create a care plan that is personalized based on your medical needs.
The average senior citizen with no medical concerns should see their doctor at least once per year. You may need to go more often if you have a health condition. Your doctor can suggest an exam schedule that will work best for you.
· Follow the Recommended Schedule for Screenings
Along with a visit to your general practitioner, you should also schedule regular screenings. That should include eye exams, dental cleanings, hearing tests, blood pressure checks, and bone density scans.
Your schedule should also include cancer screenings. Women should undergo mammograms annually after age 40. Men over age 65 should have prostate exams. Colon or rectal cancer screenings are also recommended. This is especially important if you experience bleeding, bowel pain, or changes in bowel movements.
Eye and dental exams should not be skipped. They can help reveal more about your overall health. In some cases, your dentist or eye doctor can identify signs of underlying illness before symptoms show.
Adults over age 65 should have annual eye exams and bi-annual dental exams. A screening schedule is something you should discuss with your doctor during your general check-up.
· Use Brain Games and Hobbies to Improve Cognitive Function
Mental health and cognitive function are just as important as physical wellness. Using your brain will help you stay sharp.
People with dementia must be very careful about not neglecting their cognitive function. It’s important to help a senior with Alzheimer’s remain engaged in life and active mentally.
Playing brain games can reduce cognitive decline and can help stimulate the mind. They are also a fun way to pass the time. The most common types of brain games for seniors include crossword puzzles, sudoku, checkers, chess, Scrabble, and solitaire.
There are other benefits for seniors who play brain games. They tend to have faster thinking skills, improved motor skills, and better memory. They also have a stronger sense of independence and a better understanding of their surroundings.
· Manage Weight and Eat a Nutritious Diet
What we put in our bodies directly affects our performance. Seniors should be mindful of what they eat. Senior-friendly foods include lean proteins like eggs, beans, seafood, and lean meats as well as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
You may need to adjust your menu if you have allergies or dietary restrictions. A nutritionist can help if you struggle to find dishes that promote wellness and good health for seniors.
Many aging adults choose to move into assisted living because these facilities serve prepared meals daily. MD Senior Living manages senior care homes in Phoenix and Scottsdale that provide this service and many others.
· Stay Active Using Senior-Friendly Exercises and Activities
Along with a good diet, seniors also need to stay active. Exercise is beneficial at any age. Make sure you choose activities that you can do safely.
Seniors with limited mobility can try a modified workout. Those who can stand but have balance issues should try chair exercises. A sturdy chair is used to provide extra support. Those who have significantly limited mobility can try seated movements like arm raises, torso twists, and knee marches.
All seniors should use exercises and activities that are low-impact and will not put excess pressure on joints.
· Continue Building Your Social Circle and Avoid Isolation
Most people jump to physical health when they think about senior wellness. However, it’s important to not overlook the need for socialization. Isolation increases the risk of mental health concerns like depression.
Seniors who live alone and have no support network are more likely to encounter difficulties as they age. They may not have anyone to help them do things that they can no longer do, which increases the risk of an accident.
Research has shown that social isolation increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, cognitive decline, and a weakened immune system.
Humans are social creatures, so we need to interact with others to be well-balanced and happy. Group living situations like assisted living are a great resource for people who feel isolated.
· Make Sure Your Living Situation is Safe for a Senior
Aging adults should feel safe in their home environment. Independence is also important to many seniors. That’s why some are reluctant to consider moving into a senior community.
A common concern among seniors when it comes to assisted living is privacy. These facilities provide a balance of group living and independence. Residents have access to private living spaces but can also join others in communal areas.
A senior who is struggling to keep up with housework or activities of daily living on their own should consider a move into assisted living. Doing so can make life much easier, more comfortable, and safer.
Whether you are closer to 65 or 95, it is never too late to take control of your health and wellness. Now is the time to make positive changes and enjoy more of your years.