In our senior years, quality of life is closely tied to our mental and physical health. Good health facilitates independence, reduces the risk of age-related decline, increases life expectancy, and helps us enjoy the activities we love for as long as possible. Mental health and physical health are intricately related—taking care of the body has beneficial effects on the mind and vice versa.
Here are some ways to take control of your whole-body health in your senior years so you can live long and feel great!
Modify Your Home
The vast majority of Americans prefer to age in place rather than live in a retirement or nursing home. However, only 43 percent of people over 70 find it easy to live independently. Seniors can improve their quality of life at home by making a few home modifications. Angie’s List recommends making home modifications that will keep you safe, enhance the accessibility of your home, and make everyday tasks more convenient. For example, railings, grab bars, and non-slip flooring can help you avoid falls in the home.
Talk to a contractor who specializes in home modifications to get your home in shape for aging in place successfully.
Engage in Strength and Flexibility Training
Exercise also plays a key role in preventing falls among seniors. Walking, in particular, is a wonderful form of aerobic exercise that has amazing benefits for your heart health. While research suggests that aerobic exercise is the best form of physical activity for our mental health, strength and flexibility training are equally important. Stretching exercises can help improve the mobility of your joints and muscles so you can maintain your mobility and avoid injuries. Likewise, strength training is important for maintaining muscle mass and bone density.
Eat More Protein
A protein-packed diet is crucial for supporting a solid exercise routine. Without adequate protein, seniors face a higher risk of compromised mobility. Experts suggest that seniors need to eat more protein to maintain muscle mass than their younger counterparts. Try to spread out your protein intake throughout your day, fitting sources of high-quality protein into every meal. Eating protein at breakfast tends to be the greatest challenge, so consider adding an egg, yogurt, or sausage to your morning meal.
Cut Back On The Sugar
Did you know that eating too much sugar can make you sad? According to The Conversation, research shows that people who eat more sugar tend to have a higher risk of depression. Sugary foods quickly elevate our blood sugar. This results in a sudden blood sugar drop, causing anxiety, fatigue, and irritability. Sugar also increases inflammation, which has been found to trigger or worsen depressive symptoms.
Unfortunately, people in the U.S. consume three times the recommended daily sugar limit. To stave off mood disorders during your senior years, try to cut back on refined sugars like bread, pasta, and soda.
Nurture Social Relationships
Another important way to support your mental health as a senior is to engage in social activities. Research shows that close relationships can delay age-related decline, buffer stress and anxiety, improve life expectancy, and protect our mental wellbeing. 55Living recommends socializing more through volunteering, joining local senior programs, or starting a group with others who share your personal interests. Better yet, pick up a challenging hobby, and find some people to try it out with you
Learning new skills, like how to play an instrument or sew complex quilts, will exercise parts of your brain involved in memory, learning, and decision-making. In other words, hobbies are excellent for keeping the mind sharp.
Being a senior means having wisdom, confidence, and all the time in the world to pursue your passions. Perhaps that’s why people tend to get happier as they grow older! By focusing your time on meaningful activities and close relationships, you’ll further strengthen your mental resilience and set yourself up for years of happiness to come.
About The Author
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be.
He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
Harry Cline | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Good All Round Advice In This Video!!