If you are an adult over 65 living with a chronic condition, you’re not alone. In fact, roughly 80 percent of seniors in the U.S. live with at least one chronic condition including common ones like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Maintaining independence as you age and managing your health while remaining in your home doesn’t happen without a little work and forethought. Don’t miss these essential tips for optimum senior health:
Most seniors take medicine every day, many for a chronic condition or depression. While diet and exercise do play key roles in managing health, adhering to a prescribed medicine schedule should also be a priority. Unfortunately, many seniors find it difficult to procure their prescriptions and then take them on time as prescribed.
Contributing factors to faulty medicine adherence may include cost (not being able to afford medicine), complex medicine schedules, lack of caregiver support, and poor doctor-patient communication. Seniors can address medicine adherence issues with these ideas:
· Talk to your doctor about simplifying more complex drug regimens, i.e. ask if there is a way to cut back the number of times you take medicine every day
· Ask for free samples from your doctor, look for drug coupons online, or try purchasing expensive prescriptions through international pharmacies to save money
· Coordinate with caregivers to get help with refilling prescriptions, picking them up, and setting reminders on your watch or smartphone when it is time to take them
In the past 10 years, researchers have seen the number of falls seniors experience jump over 30 percent according to a recent study. Falling inside the home can not only increase anxiety levels but it can result in debilitating injuries like hip fractures and head trauma. For many seniors, a fall initiates a final decline in health.
The good news is that there are loads of helpful tips and tools to safeguard seniors (and their homes) against falls.
· Utilize assistive equipment and devices like raised toilet seats, grab bars, shower chairs, and bed rails to support your movements in fall-prone areas like the bathroom and bedroom
· Get vision checked regularly and make sure lighting around the home is bright and consistent and clutter is cleared from common pathways
· Check with your doctor about any side effects of medicine you are taking that may affect balance, orientation, and coordination
· Update your footwear with smooth-bottomed closed-toe shoes that properly support your feet and promote healthy body mechanics when you walk and exercise
Prioritizing Nutrition and Hydration
As you age, your body experiences some wear and tear including muscle loss, a diminished sense of thirst, decreases in bone density, joint inflammation, and a weakened immune system. While much of this is natural, there are still steps seniors can take to maintain their nutrition and avoid dehydration.
· Consume plenty of critical nutrients like protein, calcium, and Vitamin c by eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds
· Avoid over-consuming sodium by reading nutrition labels carefully and limiting salty processed foods like frozen or boxed dinners and canned meats
· Invest in a high-powered blender that makes cooking a cinch. Create smoothies, shakes, soups, dips, and more with the press of a button
· Take a reusable water bottle with you everywhere so you’re never without an opportunity to stay hydrated
There is so much more to the idea of “staying active” than simply physical fitness. In addition to exercise, experts recommend that seniors stay active socially and mentally. This means finding new and interesting ways to connect with other people as well as engage the brain.
Social interaction and mental training may contribute to lowering the risk for age-related cognitive decline like you see with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Try these ideas:
· Learn something new, i.e. an instrument, a new language, or a new hobby like woodworking or knitting
· Go out with friends and family regularly or utilize applications like Skype on your computer to live video chat with people far away
· Discover new ways to exercise that are low-impact (easy on the joints), weight-bearing, and work out the heart. Ideas include dancing, hiking, playing tennis, Zumba, and yoga
Turns out the key to aging gracefully all comes down to maintaining your health and successfully managing any conditions, injuries, or illnesses that arise. You know the age-old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; for seniors looking to improve their longevity, preventing falls, malnutrition, and medicine mix-ups will go a long way.