The Older Adult's Checklist for Healthier Aging
Aging has consistently been presented as something resembling a disease for many decades now. Many people have moved away from seeing “old age” as their golden years of retirement and closer to seeing it as a dead zone of illness, handicap, and dependance. For this reason, the team at Senior Steps, inc. has decided to put together a checklist of common changes and issues that arise with age and discuss the best practices to incorporate in order to minimize their effects, delay them, or even prevent them. It’s important to develop a true understanding of aging as a normal phase of life – one that can be filled with joy, intimacy, new accomplishments, and fresh experiences. It is a unique experience to each individual and can look wildly different for everyone.
Some of the misconceptions surrounding aging discourage elders from breaking bad habits and developing a healthier lifestyle, but studies have consistently shown that older adults who incorporate better rituals later in life such as better sleep, more exercise, a better diet, etc. see a significant improvement in their quality of life and their happiness regardless of damage caused by unhealthy habits in earlier years.
Here is a list of some symptoms commonly brought on by aging and the healthy lifestyle changes you can incorporate to counteract each one:
Cognitive Decline Recall and memory problems are one of the most dreaded symptoms of aging and while some cognitive decline can be natural, much of it can be prevented by consistently getting enough sleep (many studies have found daytime naps to be helpful), eating brain-healthy foods (such as fatty fish, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, and berries), and keeping the brain stimulated by socializing, visiting new places for a change of scenery, continuing to learn new skills and read about new subjects, and playing games that involve puzzle-solving or strategizing.
Decreased hearing Hearing loss most commonly occurs with age due to hair cell death or damage in the ear. While some damage is natural, it’s important to know that these cells do not regenerate. Minimizing exposure to loud noises, wearing protective ear gear at job sites with loud machinery, and turning down the volume when watching TV or listening to music can prevent unnecessary further hearing loss at any age.
Worsening vision In addition to monitoring eye health with the help of consistent appointments with your optometrist, make sure to always protect your eyes with good quality, UV blocking sunglasses. You can even ask your doctor for prescription shades or transitional frames! It’s also important to incorporate eye-healthy foods into your diet, such as raw vegetables (especially colorful bell peppers, carrots, and dark, leafy greens), whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Bone loss leading to frailty It was once a common belief that osteoporosis is an inevitable part of aging, but it’s not! Preventing loss of bone density highly depends on one’s diet and can be kept to a natural minimum by including calcium rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Talk to your doctor about taking a Calcium Citrate supplement if you don’t get your recommended daily intake with your meals and make sure you are getting a good amount of physical activity every week to further support bone health.
Urinary and bowel problems Developing incontinence with aging can be combated by committing to a healthier diet that includes less alcohol, less caffeine, and more fiber. It’s also very important to quit tobacco, exercise regularly, and drink enough water in lieu of other liquids. These lifestyle changes can help delay or prevent incontinence as well as UTI’s and bladder cancer.
The common thread for preventing many issues that come with aging is to commit to living a healthier life as soon as possible. Senior Steps can provide a more personalized checklist for seniors wanting to get the most out of their retirement years and live their elderhood to the fullest. Please call us for a FREE consultation today to speak to a geriatric care management specialist!