Every senior knows that they should be keeping their heart healthy and watching their blood pressure, but what about the stuff most people forget about? There are various elements of senior health that should be closely monitored, and many of them can actually be drastically improved with the right lifestyle changes. The following four areas are all vitally important but often overlooked, and you can start taking control of them today.
Sarcopenia is the natural loss of muscle mass that many seniors experience as they age. It is a big risk for the elderly because it can decrease balance and lead to falls, and it can also reduce mobility and make it harder for an elderly person to live independently.
So what can you do? Well, work out, of course. Specifically, you should incorporate exercises that build strength and improve balance, range of motion, and flexibility. Yoga is an excellent option, and is one of the few forms of exercise that is fully customizable and focuses on the both the mind and body. Yoga promotes bone and joint health and builds strength through gentle muscle expansion.
Many people tend to think of dental health as purely cosmetic, but our oral health is actually strongly connected with other areas like digestion and heart health. In fact, even depression has been linked to dental health. Regular trips to the dentist should be part of any senior’s healthcare routine.
Many Medicare Advantage plans cover dental, with some covering more expensive procedures like root canal treatments or making dentures. Check whether you have dental as part of your plan (and exactly what is covered), and make sure you use it! If you don’t have dental, consider looking for a plan that will allow you to keep your oral health in check without spending more.
Gut & Digestion
According to Aging Care, it’s common for digestive function to deteriorate with age. This can lead to several health problems such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and fatigue, as well as to a reduction in your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
However, there are things you can do to improve your gut health. One is to focus on improving your gut’s microbiome, or the collection of healthy bacteria that live there. Seniors can improve their microbiome by eating more fiber from natural sources (such as fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains) and foods rich in probiotics (such as yogurt and other fermented foods). They can also take daily probiotic supplements.
If asked, most people would list Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as the most common mental health problem among seniors. However, research has shown that depressive disorders actually top the list. Depression among seniors is a serious and worrying problem, and one that comes with a few particular complications.
For one, seniors are less likely to have grown up in a mental-health-positive environment. Good mental health awareness is relatively recent, and it has enabled younger generations to identify the symptoms of depression and feel less stigmatized when reaching out for help. Elderly people may not have this sort of education, and may struggle more to identify and seek help for depression.
Another problem is that seniors often suffer from isolation. This can make them lonely, worsening their depression, but it can also make it harder for loved ones to pick up on the issue. This is why it’s crucial for both seniors and their loved ones to read up on the symptoms of depression, and for the latter to do regular mental health check-ins.
Of course, there are many other areas of physical and mental health that you shouldn’t ignore. In fact, approaching your health from a holistic perspective, where you try to maintain good habits that support your whole body and mind, is the best way forward.
Exercise regularly (remember those muscle workouts!), eat a healthy balanced diet, check-in regularly with all your doctors, and keep track of your mental health. Just by doing these things, you will be taking control of your wellbeing and putting yourself on the path to great senior health.
Author: Jason Lewis - Strongwell