April 14, 2015
Whether you’re a caretaker or an aging adult, it’s good to know what you can do to better your or a loved one’s health. Here are a few tips for how to stay vivacious and happy well past retirement.
It probably comes as no surprise that engaging in physical activity has major health advantages for all age groups. But you don’t have to be a marathon runner to experience the benefits of exercise. Find an activity you enjoy that also gets you moving. It could be a sport, an exercise class, walking local trails, dancing, or any number of things. An added gain of exercising is that it can provide a social outlet as well if you invite friends or meet new people at a class.
Your body’s not the only thing that will slow down if it you don’t keep it moving. Exercising your mind can help prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Keep your brain sharp through reading, puzzles, crosswords, classes at your community center, or joining a book club.
As we age, certain medical conditions can start to pop up, like osteoporosis or diabetes. Getting an annual check up allows you to prevent illnesses or at least detect them earlier. Your doctor can also monitor any medications or supplements you are taking to evaluate if your needs have changed. This is also a great time to ask about immunizations, vision tests, and essential cancer screenings. Your doctor will have personalized recommendations for what you can do to stay on top of your health!
As we mentioned earlier, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Unfortunately, rates of suicide and depression in older adults are rising. Although grief may be common in individuals who lose people close to them, prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness are not typical parts of aging and are very treatable. If you’re struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, you can talk to your physician to see what he or she recommends.
Last but certainly not least! Your sleep needs will change over the course of your life, and you may think that because you’re older, you require less sleep. In reality, NIH Senior Health reports that older adults need just as much sleep as young adults – about 7 to 9 hours per night. Insufficient sleep is linked to attention and memory loss, fatigue, mood decline, and a lower quality of life. Insomnia and sleep deprivation are even associated with an increased risk of dementia. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, talk to your doctor about solutions.