Aging is inevitable, but diminished mental and physical health doesn't have to be a byproduct. With the right habits, seniors can maintain their health and vitality while preventing disease. From proper nutrition to light daily exercise, preventative health is critical for a long health span.
Here are 10 essential habits seniors should adopt to increase their longevity, vitality, and overall quality of life.
10 Important Health Habits for Seniors
Around 85% of older adults experience at least one chronic health event, leading to loss of independence, disability, or even death. Therefore, as individuals age, maintaining good health becomes increasingly important. Fortunately, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle can tremendously prevent chronic disease and improve one's quality of life. Here's how.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being for people of any age. Exercises like light walking and water aerobics can help seniors improve their cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles, maintain flexibility, and manage weight. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise routine to ensure it is safe and appropriate for your health needs.
Maintain a Colorful and Balanced Diet
Eating a nutritious and balanced diet is essential for senior citizens. A diet that includes a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide the necessary nutrients for optimal health. Seniors should also be mindful of their caloric intake and limit processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive salt intake.
Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for overall health, especially for seniors. Dehydration can lead to various health issues, such as dizziness, constipation, and urinary tract infections. Seniors need to drink enough water throughout the day and monitor their fluid intake, especially during hot weather or when engaging in physical activity.
How much water you should drink varies by person and lifestyle, but doctors recommend getting around eight 8oz cups of water each day.
Get Adequate Sleep
Getting enough restful sleep is important for seniors' physical and mental well-being. Poor sleep can lead to mood swings, memory problems, and decreased immunity. The National Institute on Aging recommends that older adults sleep 7 to 9 hours each night. By establishing a regular sleep routine, creating a relaxing bedtime environment, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime, sleep quality—and your overall health—can improve greatly.
Researchers have found many cognitive benefits of maintaining positive relationships, particularly amongst "SuperAgers," a term referring to those aged 80 and older.
The health risks of loneliness and isolation for seniors have been well-researched. Staying socially active and maintaining strong social connections is essential for seniors' mental and physical health.
If you're one of the 25% of socially isolated seniors, consider making a move to an active senior community.
55+ communities for seniors make it easy to socialize with peers and engage in community activities that help seniors combat loneliness, depression, and cognitive decline.
Stay On Top of Regular Check-ups
Regular health check-ups and screenings are crucial for the early detection and management of health issues. Seniors can take greater control of their health by scheduling regular visits with a healthcare provider to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, bone density, and other important health markers.
AARP advises that seniors schedule these five screenings regularly:
- Hepatitis C
- Skin cancer
- Prostate cancer
Stimulate Your Mind
Studies find strong links between mentally stimulating activities and their long-lasting benefits. Therefore, keeping the mind active and engaged is important for seniors' cognitive health.
Engaging in activities that challenge the brain, such as reading, solving puzzles, learning new skills, or playing musical instruments, can help seniors maintain cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia and general cognitive decline.
Bonus: eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as fatty fish, can help keep your mind sharp.
Track Your Medication
Proper management of medications is crucial for seniors who may be taking multiple medications or have a history of illnesses. Dr. Andrew Weil, a celebrity advocate for integrative medicine and healthy aging, advises seniors to keep a medical journal.
He shares that by keeping a categorized record of previous injuries, hospitalizations, and tests, one can better integrate healthy habits that ward off those specific vulnerabilities.
Seniors should follow their healthcare provider's instructions for medication dosage, frequency, and interactions. It is important to regularly review medications with a healthcare professional to ensure they are necessary and safe.
Improve Balance and Safety to Prevent Falls
Falls are a common cause of injuries in seniors, and taking steps to prevent falls is crucial for maintaining good health. Seniors should ensure their home environment is safe by removing tripping hazards, installing bathroom grab bars, improving lighting, and wearing appropriate footwear. Regular exercise to improve balance and strength can also help prevent falls.
Take Care of Your Emotional Well-Being
Taking care of one's emotional well-being is important for overall health. Seniors should prioritize self-care, manage stress, and seek support from healthcare professionals, counselors, or trusted individuals if needed.
Engaging in enjoyable activities like hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing creative outlets can also improve emotional well-being.
It's important for senior citizens to work with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized plan for maintaining good health based on their individual needs, medical conditions, and lifestyle.
Senior Health is a Journey, Not a Race
Healthy aging can be a beautiful journey, but it can also feel overwhelming if you try taking on too many new things simultaneously. Take your time to integrate healthy habits slowly and step by step. For example, you may start with a commitment to drinking more water each day and going for a walk. After you've adopted those new, healthy habits to your routine, add on another. Over time, you'll have built a sustainable routine that supports optimal health and longevity.
Are you concerned with your health or the health of a loved one? Schedule a tour of our active senior community in Cameron Park, CA, and find out how our residents access health-supporting benefits such as regular, healthy meals, a fitness center, group activities, and assisted living support with medication, doctor visits, and more.
Schedule a tour or contact our team at (530) 677-9100.