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The Importance of Senior Health and Wellness

According to the CDC, older adults are expected to account for 25% of US population by the year 2060. Global life expectancy is on the rise as well, increasing from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.4 years in 2019. As the population ages, it becomes increasingly significant to highlight the importance of senior health and wellness.


As we age, it becomes more difficult to remain healthy. The risks of chronic diseases, social isolation, and malnutrition becomes higher. Our ability to remain physically active, nutritionally aware, and mentally healthy decreases, particularly as we age and encounter lifestyle and physiological changes.


Here's what to keep in mind to maintain good health and wellness as you age.


The Importance of Senior Health and Wellness

Comprehensive health and wellness involves more than just fitness or simply eating well, especially for seniors. That's what can make it so difficult to focus on. It's important though, when making lifestyle changes, to take it slow and only change few things at a time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), maintaining functional ability to prolong wellbeing is considered healthy aging.


We've compiled 6 aspects of health and wellness to promote healthy aging:

  • Nutrition

  • Fitness

  • Activities of Daily Living

  • Medication Management

  • Mental Health

  • Chronic Conditions and Diseases


Eating Well: Nutrition for Aging Adults

An older adult's diet, like all ages, requires a variety of food from all food group which helps reduce risks of chronic diseased and conditions. Although important, weight isn't the only reason to shape up your diet. It's also about enjoyment and better quality-of-life.


According to MyPlate.gov, these are some diet tips for adults 60+:

Two people preparing vegetables for a salad
  • Reduce sugar intake

  • Maintain high protein intake

  • Be sure to get all nutrients needed by eating a well-rounded diet

  • Drink enough water (Read our blog on healthy water intake for seniors!)

  • Fruits and veggies are great additions for healthy snacks and to feel fuller with meals


Studies have shown a Mediterranean, DASH, or MIND diet help with cognitive health as well. If you have questions about what diet works for you, talk to your doctor about what diet changes are best for you.


Physical Fitness for Seniors

Due to chronic conditions or lack of ability, older adults should opt for physical activity according to their abilities. Movement helps with cognitive health as well as benefiting stamina, mobility, dexterity, and other functional skills. Physical activity can aid in relaxation, sleep, and decreasing anxiety & stress.


Some ideas for physical activity for seniors:

  • Gardening

  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • Tai Chi

  • Yoga


Maintaining Activities of Daily Living

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are every day tasks and responsibilities related to personal care. These include: bathing/showering, toileting, dressing, transferring, and eating. An important part of health and wellness for seniors is remaining as independent as possible when it comes to caring for yourself by completing ADLs. The inability to complete this can lead to unsafe conditions and lower quality-of-life.


Two older women hugging and smiling

If a senior cannot complete ADLs on his or her own, there are ways to receive help. For those wanting to age at home, an in home caregiver is a great choice to assist with ADLs with the goal of keeping the senior as independent as possible. There are lots of other options for seniors in need of help like assisted living, nursing homes, etc.


Medication Management

The FDA receives 100,000+ reports of medication errors every year in the U.S. alone. Elderly patients are more likely to be affected by medication errors. That's why education around medications, when, and how to take them is vital to ensuring senior health and wellness.


Due to higher risk of chronic conditions and aging in general, seniors are more likely to have more medications prescribed. Lots of these medications have side effects that need to be monitored as well. Most importantly, if these medications are not being taken correctly (whether too often, not enough, or improperly), side effects and other symptoms can get worse.


Evaluating wellness for a senior involves monitoring their medication schedule. Are they taking their medications on time? The correct amount? Too much? Too little? If a senior is having a hard time taking their medication correctly, it may be time to look for help from a Care Manager or in-home caregiver. A scheduling chart on their refrigerator or bedside table may help with ensuring medications are taken on time.


Mental Health

Mental Health affects so many aspects of our life: how we think, feel, act, etc. As we grow older, we can start to be more socially isolated. Feelings of loneliness and social isolation are a major contributing factor to senior mental health decline. According to the National Institute on Aging, "older adults who are socially isolated or feel lonely are at a higher risk for heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline."


To combat mental health decline, seniors can:

An older woman sitting on a couch across from a counselor holding a clipboard.
  1. Stay in touch with family friends

  2. Remain physically active

  3. Meditate

  4. Keep doing activities you like or start a new hobby

  5. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about feelings of depression, deep sadness, or numbness.


Chronic Conditions and Diseases

The CDC says, "As people get older their risk of chronic diseases increases such as dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancers." It's important for seniors to keep a healthy lifestyle to lower the risk of developing these diseases and conditions.


In an article published by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), they discuss The Top 10 Most Common Chronic Conditions in Older Adults. The chronic conditions they reviewed are hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure, depression, and Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. The top 5 ways listed for each of these to lower the risk of developing a condition or to manage a condition one already has are to remain physically active through regular exercise, maintain a healthy diet, get adequate sleep each night, do not smoke if you don not already or stop smoking if you do, and talk to your doctor about any conditions you do have or are worried about developing.


Conclusion

Senior health and wellness is a large topic covering lots of ground and involving many moving parts. It can be daunting or overwhelming trying to manage every aspect of wellness, but it's important not to bite off more than you can chew.


Surrounding yourself with a solid support system whether through family, friends, trusted advisors, or health care providers, it doesn't have to be as hard! If you notice your health and wellness taking a negative turn, reach out to someone.


If you don't know where to start, Care Management may be right for you. Care Managers act as advocates for their clients, ensuring every aspect of their healthcare is laid out in a care plan. They also ensure every person involved sticks to the care plan. Overall, the main goal of Care Management is to maintain the senior's independence and ensure he or she is aging well!


If Care Management sounds right for you, contact us to learn more about how we can help!

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