We all want our loved ones to be healthy but it can seem like an elusive goal as aging progresses. Multiple health conditions can emerge and for some cognition can begin to decline. However, it is possible to give each senior a solid foundation of good health to support healthy aging. Here are five ways to achieve that.
1. Good nutrition in small meals:
Chewing, swallowing and digestion can slow with age. Everything from dental problems to disease can impact the ability to properly chew food. Digestion changes and slows as we age making it more difficult for our bodies to properly absorb nutrition and hydration. That’s why encouraging your loved one to eat six small meals a day is a good idea. Small meals can be more appetizing to someone who has a poor appetite. Eating frequently keeps the stomach full, helps to avoid nausea and reduces acid. Small meals can be easier to chew and packed with nutrition. Believe it or not, six small meals a day can actually be easier to prepare than three larger meals. Here are some example of nutrition-rich small meals:
2. Mental activity keeps the brain young:
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread
- Celery and cream cheese
- Apples and sharp cheese
- Hummus, carrot and celery sticks
- Soup and a warm biscuit
- Hot oatmeal with raisins and a teaspoon of brown sugar
- Beef stew (in the winter) and warm bread
- Salad with fruit and couscous in the summer
Depending upon the cognitive level of your loved one, mental activity will keep the brain working and growing. Learning a new language is the best activity to keep the brain young and can actually reduce the risks of getting some of the most common symptoms of age-related memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Some doctors say learning a foreign language is like “running different software through the brain - it exercises more communication channels."
Other activities that are best for the brain include those that involve problem solving and reasoning. Harvard Medical School says that’s because they engage cognitive skills, such as visual comprehension, short and long-term memory, attention to detail, and even math calculations.
3. The power of great sleep:
Americans don’t get enough sleep and it’s making us sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control, sleeping less than seven hours per day can increase the risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress. Sleeping well and taking naps now and then can increase your loved one’s energy, improve his or her health and a sense of well-being. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night for people over the age of 65.
4. Good friends and social activities:
Human beings are social creatures. We are not meant to be alone. Isolation causes depression, anxiety, and poor health. It is important that your loved one remain connected with friends and family. To the extent possible, he or she should be involved in activities outside the home. Fortunately many senior centers and councils on aging offer transportation to their activities. Churches and civic organizations often have robust outreach programs specifically to keep seniors involved. Check what is available in your community and help your loved one connect with activities of interest.
5. Movement and fun exercise:
Nothing is better than a walk. It’s free of charge, keeps joints lubricated and muscles strong. Twenty minutes of walking spread throughout the day can improve balance, keep core muscles strong and provide an optimistic view of life. It’s important to keep your loved one moving so that he or she can remain independent for as long as possible.
If you find it difficult to keep an eye on your loved one’s health, we can help. Our caregivers are trained to support seniors and help them have a healthy diet, physical activity, sharp minds, social ties, calmness and purpose. We call it our Balanced Care Method™
and it provides the core principals key to longevity.