As we glide into a new year, health is sure to be on a lot of our minds. Some make New Year’s resolutions for a healthier lifestyle. Some feel a new sense of motivation to change bad habits. For those of us with elderly loved ones, we tend to think of their health as well. But how can we help keep seniors healthy?
That is the question we are going to explore in this article, looking specifically at diet, exercise, socialization, activities, hygiene, and in home care.
A Senior’s Diet
While a healthy diet for a senior should look similar to a healthy diet for anyone, there are some specific points seniors need to consider as they put together a meal plan.
The diet should help keep cholesterol levels low. High cholesterol can contribute to a higher likelihood of dementia, heart disease, and many other diseases. An excess of cholesterol builds walls, so to speak, around the arteries, causing them to harden and narrow. This can slow down or even block blood flow.
The diet should keep blood pressure down. Limiting salt, alcohol, and caffeine can go a long way here. High blood pressure, which is very common among the elderly, damages blood vessels and increases the probability of heart attack, heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke.
The diet should include a lot of vegetables and vitamins. If you eat vegetables, you’ll most likely take care of the vitamins at the same time. Vitamin E, C, and B are especially important, as they keep cells healthy and help in preventing cancer and heart disease. Overall, vegetables and vitamins go a long way in keeping the immune system up and helping the body fight off unwanted intruders.
Exercise for Seniors
Regular exercise of some kind is important for seniors. Whether it’s getting out of the chair a couple times a day for a short walk or a more full exercise routine, staying physically active will help keep a senior healthy. Swimming or water exercise classes, in particular, are great options if a senior is still mobile enough to participate. Exercise helps keep cholesterol and blood pressure down and strengthens the heart.
Beyond the physical benefits of exercise, a senior who is physically active will also experience mental benefits as well. Exercise tends to increase happiness and altertness, providing more energy and motivation overall.
Socialization and Activities
If you can’t help in any other area, try to at least help seniors in your life stay engaged with the world. Without socialization and a healthy level of activities, seniors are much more likely to become depressed or slip into a downward spiral in terms of health.
Seniors should continue to enjoy the company of family and friends, also staying active in groups that they enjoy. In alone time, seniors can engage their minds and keep them active with crossword puzzles or reading. Many activities help improve reaction time, memory, and overall mental ability.
In general, poor health can negatively affect hygiene, and poor hygiene can negatively affect health. Seniors need to be especially careful in the areas of toileting and oral care. Improper toileting can lead to urinary tract infections, which can cause further complications and have in some cases even led to dementia in the elderly.
In terms of oral care, a senior needs to continue brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis. This helps prevent gum disease, which has been linked to more serious problems like Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
At Home Care
As a final point, I want to note that keeping a senior in the home can make a drastic difference in his or her health. Most seniors prefer remaining where things are familiar. Statistically, seniors who are able to remain at home are much less likely to deal with stress or more serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Having a caregiver in the home can also support your efforts in keeping the senior healthy in diet, exercise, socialization, and activities. Not only will the caregiver be able to be a friend to the senior, but he or she will be able to monitor the senior in activities of daily living.
I hope this articles has provided a good starting point on the topic of how to keep seniors healthy. If you are interested in finding an at home caregiver for your elderly loved one, start the process by searching for caregivers in your area or registering on our site.