Health and Wellness Guide for Seniors

In today’s society, seniors are looking and feeling better than ever and living more active lives. This may be attributed to various things, including better health care and modern dental solutions. Starting in their mid to early 50s, people can expect certain changes and elevated risks. To prepare, they can take steps that will help them to get and stay in shape or maintain their current good health. To understand what these steps are, they should speak with their doctor and dentist and research ways to live healthier and longer lives.

Diet

A wholesome diet is one of the keys to thriving for those older than 50. Depending on one’s level of fitness, daily calorie intake should range from 1,600 to 2,200 calories for women and 2,000 to 2,800 calories for men. Vitamins B and D, fiber, and calcium are all important, as is drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Eating the right foods can help keep the mind sharp and bones strong and reduce the risk of problems such as stroke, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Reduce salt intake and cut out unhealthy carbohydrates and bad fats. Colorful fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of both fiber and vitamins. Carbohydrates may be obtained by eating foods made with whole grains. For calcium, seniors should consume as much as 1,200 milligrams a day and choose yogurt, milk, and foods such as almonds, broccoli, or kale to get this nutrient. Beans, seeds, chicken, and eggs are good sources of protein. Fish is another source of protein, and certain kinds, such as salmon, are also heart-healthy.

Exercise

Exercise goes hand-in-hand with wholesome eating habits when it comes to older adults leading healthful lives. In general, an individual who is in their 60s and who is cleared by their doctor to exercise should strive for a moderately intense aerobic workout of at least 150 minutes a week along with muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week. Seniors who are fit enough for vigorous aerobic activity may strive for 75 minutes weekly and two or more days of muscle-strengthening. This can be done in 10-minute increments if desired. Exercise that is aerobic is any activity that gets the heart beating quickly. This may include walking, dancing, bike-riding, and even gardening. Certain types of aerobic and strength training may even be adapted for people with disabilities.

Physical Health

Physical changes are a part of growing older and can affect how one functions on a day-to-day basis. These changes can happen at various ages and in varying degrees from one person to another. While some of these changes may require adapting one’s lifestyle, not all of them prohibit active or fulfilling lives. People often notice mild to moderate difficulty in hearing, while visually, they begin to have difficulty reading smaller print, reading as quickly as they once could, or seeing as clearly in dim light. This can be caused by the development of cataracts or by a natural change in vision called presbyopia. Skin becomes drier and less elastic, and people often begin to develop more wrinkles. Hormone changes and slowing metabolism can result in less muscle mass and more body fat. Osteoporosis is a concern as both men and women experience a loss of bone density and mineral content. Age also puts older adults at a greater risk for certain other diseases and health conditions. These conditions include heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and pneumonia.

Mental Health

There are a number of mental health issues that can become more prevalent as adults age. These issues, or disorders, affect as many as 20 percent of adults who are older than 55. Two of the most common issues are depression and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. As the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s affects approximately 5 million Americans who are older than 65. Other mental health issues, such as anxiety and behavior disorders, can also be problematic for seniors. Depending on the type and severity of the mental health disorder, if left untreated, it can result in problems that range from loss of sleep to suicide. Unfortunately, many older Americans fail to take advantage of mental health services due to barriers that range from denial to stigma regarding mental health issues.


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