Thanks to advances in medical technology and elderly health care, people are living longer than ever. As they age, though, they open themselves up to more risk of injury, disease, and other health complications. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve and maintain your general health, boosting your longevity in the process. Read on for some of the most important elderly health tips you need to know.
See Your Doctor Regularly
Early detection is often touted as the best way to head off dangerous diseases and conditions, so it is crucial that you visit your doctor on a regular basis, even if you feel as though nothing is wrong. Your doctor will have insight into things you may not even have thought of, and they can monitor changes in your overall physical condition over time. This will give them a more complete picture of your health so that they can best help you maintain it. Your Medicare benefits will cover one visit per year, though it is smart to go more frequently than that, especially if something has changed.
Visit Your Dentist as Well
You should aim to see your dentist at least every six months for regular cleanings and exams. As you get older, your teeth become more susceptible than ever to cavities, as they have become worn over time. In addition to cavities, you are also more prone to gum disease and other complications. These dental issues don’t just affect the health of your mouth, but they can contribute to other conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, as well. Regular care with your dentist will help to preserve both your mouth and your health overall.
Prevention Is Key
In addition to regular checkups with your doctor, you should also seek out preventative care. This includes a variety of health screenings for conditions that often affect seniors, like high cholesterol, heart problems, colon cancer, and more. To make things even easier, most preventative screenings are covered by Medicare. In addition to screenings, you should also take the time to make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Influenza, pneumonia, and other conditions can be incredibly risky for the elderly, so it is important to protect yourself as much as possible.
Keep an Eye on Vision Changes
As your eyes age, your vision begins to deteriorate. While there is little you can do to stop this natural part of aging, you can adapt to it over time. If you wear glasses, you should have your prescription reevaluated every year to identify any changes to your vision. When your prescription is off, and you can’t see clearly, you expose yourself to much greater risk of falling, which can lead to injury, head trauma, or other problems. In addition to adjusting your prescription, your eye doctor can also evaluate your eyes for other possible health issues, like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration so that you can make plans for the future of your vision care.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Mental health is one of the most often overlooked aspects of elderly health, but it is arguably one of the most important. As you age, you often lose connections with others, forcing yourself more and more into a state of isolation. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Having someone to talk to, like a therapist, can help you work through your feelings so that you can process them in healthy ways.
Keep Your Brain Active
The older you get, the more your risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia increases. It is important to stimulate and engage your mind on a regular basis to stave off mental decline. Things like doing crosswords or other types of puzzles, reading books, writing letters to your loved ones and trying out new activities, can all help to keep your mind sharp. Be sure to incorporate new challenges whenever you can to maintain your brain’s flexibility and adaptability.
Make Time for Your Family and Friends
Maintaining connections with others becomes more difficult as we get older, so it is important to make an effort in this area. Many people sit around waiting for someone else to get in touch, so why not let that someone be you? Regular social connections can boost your mood, which can carry over into the rest of your health. It can also help maintain your memory, improve your mental health and more. If all of that isn’t enough for you, spending time with those you love is just plain enjoyable, regardless of its impact on elderly health.
Be Mindful of Your Medications
While your doctor can be an invaluable resource when it comes to the medications you are taking, it is important that you be aware of the possible side effects and interactions as well. This way, you’ll be more attuned to any changes in your health. It is also crucial that you check with your doctor before beginning any new pharmaceutical regimen, whether recommended by a doctor or not. Any new medications can affect the balance and dosage of the other prescriptions you are taking, so it is important that your doctor monitor you closely to make adjustments as needed. Some medications can have dangerous interactions, so don’t neglect this crucial aspect of elderly health.
Follow a Healthy Diet
Proper diet plays a major role in elderly health. Your diet should include plenty of fiber to promote healthy digestion, as well as a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. While processed foods can be convenient, they won’t do much for your health, so try to avoid them whenever possible. To help keep your energy levels up throughout the day, it is a good idea to eat smaller meals more frequently, rather than just a few larger meals. Keep a supply of nutritious snacks on hand so that you always have a healthy bite available when you need a boost.
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but it is even more so for seniors. As your body ages, it doesn’t retain water as well as it used to, making you more prone to dehydration. A general rule of thumb is to aim for six to eight cups of water per day, depending on your body weight. To make it easy to keep your fluid levels up, always keep a bottle or glass of water nearby so you can sip whenever you begin to feel thirsty. Many fruits and vegetables have high water content as well, and these can contribute to your daily water intake.
Fit in Exercise Throughout the Day
Staying physically active as much as possible is one of the best ways to maintain elderly health. Exercise gets your heart rate up, strengthening it in the process. It also helps your body rid itself of toxins, improves your mood, engages your mind, and sharpens your memory. Your doctor can help you develop a suitable fitness program to meet your needs and accommodate your abilities. You can also squeeze in extra physical activity throughout your day by taking the stairs, going for short walks, and taking care of chores around the house, if you are able. As you get stronger, you’ll likely find that you have more energy for your daily activities and can get through them with greater confidence and ease.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Many seniors complain of insomnia or waking up frequently during the night. However, sleep is one of the most important contributors to your overall health, as it is during sleep that your body is able to refresh and restore itself. This is crucial to slowing the effects of aging. Try to get into a steady bedtime routine to help your body and mind prepare for sleep. Turn off the TV and other screens, dim the lights, and make sure your room is at a comfortable, cool temperature. If you live in a noisy area, try a white noise machine to prevent outside sounds from interfering with your sleep.
Minimize Your Stress Levels
Stress can wreak havoc on both your physical and mental health, so it is in your best interests to minimize the amount of stress in your life. Any time you are feeling stressed, take note of what is causing it. Then, you can think about ways to avoid or reduce your exposure to that particular stressor in the future. For example, if you have a hard time focusing in large social groups, ask your loved ones to visit on their own instead. Similarly, you can stop visiting a neighbor who is constantly in a negative mood.
Secure Your Shower
The bath and shower are among the most common locations for senior injuries. The slick floors, combined with rushing water, steam and other distractions, create a major risk of slipping and falling. This is especially true when stepping in and out of the tub or shower. Installing handrails or a seat in your shower can help you to keep your balance as you bathe, reducing the likelihood that you will fall down in the process. Rails beside your toilet can make getting up and down easier as well.
Take a Proactive Role in Your Health
Your doctor can be of great assistance in helping you maintain your health over the years, but you need to be involved in your health care as well. Whenever you visit your doctor, come prepared with any questions you have about the medications you are taking, risk factors you might have, changes to your diet and exercise regimen, and any other health concerns that impact you. It can be easy to forget your important questions in the heat of the moment, so write them down when you have plenty of time to think.
Understand Your Medicare Benefits
It can be difficult to ensure you are getting the care you need when you don’t know the extent of your insurance coverage. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your Medicare benefits so that you don’t miss out on any important checkups and screenings. This can also help you plan and budget for your future health care expenses, making it easier to stay on top of everything in the future. When you fully understand how your Medicare benefits work, you’ll be equipped to make the most of the health care options available to you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Many seniors resist asking for help when they need it, but this can put you at risk of injury or illness. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your health and well-being. If something is too heavy for you to move on your own, ask someone to move it for you. If you are beginning to have difficulty managing stairs, have a ramp or stairlift installed. There is no shame in knowing your limitations because it also means that you know your strengths. Complications will continue to arise as you grow older, and it is important to adapt to them as needed.
Make the Switch to Assisted Living
At some point, you may realize that you are no longer able to care for yourself as well as you once were. Rather than risking your health and safety on your own, it makes more sense to move into an assisted living community, like Park Terrace Senior Living. This way, you’ll have access to help whenever you need it, whether you need assistance with doing your laundry, getting in and out of bed, or completing your daily grooming, among other common daily tasks.
Our dedicated staff members are here to help you, and we do everything in our power to create a warm, welcoming environment for our seniors. We would love the chance to show you around our wonderful community to help you decide if it is right for you. Reach out to us today for more information about our independent and assisted living homes and to schedule an appointment for a tour. We’re always happy to welcome new residents!