This week, we promote the benefits of healthier, more active lifestyles. It’s Active Aging Week.
Eat right and exercise. We’ve heard this message all our lives. But for those over the age of 50, this message is even more important. Countless studies have proven that staying active and eating properly can help older adults achieve a higher quality of life, and it can help them live longer too.
Physical Activity and Aging
Maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial for sustaining health and happiness. Exercise can help older adults achieve a higher quality of life as they age. Seniors who avoid daily exercise can experience:
- Loss of muscle mass
- Decline in strength
- Increase in body fat
- Decline in bone density
- Loss of agility and balance
- Loss of endurance
Adding an exercise regime to your daily routine does not have to mean hours in the gym. You can often accomplish great things with just 30 minutes of activity per day! The positive effects of exercising each day for an elderly loved one include:
- Reduced risk of developing conditions and disabilities
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased balance
- Increased mobility
- Weight maintenance
- Increased flexibility
Good Nutrition and Aging
Smart food choices are part of healthy aging. Eating the right foods with the proper nutrients, while being mindful of the appropriate proportion sizes, is vital. As we age, our bodies can become less tolerant of certain foods. We tend to eat less. And our teeth and gums can change, making it difficult to chew certain fruits, vegetables or meats. These changes make it even more important for our elderly loved ones focus on good nutrition, including:
- Drink plenty of liquids. With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst. Drink water often to stay hydrated. Limit beverages that have lots of added sugars.
- Eat your veggies: Include a variety of different colored vegetables at mealtime. Most vegetables are a low-calorie source of nutrients and a good source of fiber.
- Flavor up your meals: With age, our sense of smell and taste may change. Medicines can also influence how foods taste. A healthy way to add flavor to meals is with herbs and spices.
- Social eating: Eating alone can be depressing and can lead to a poor nutritional diet. Invite family, friends or neighbors to join you for lunch or dinner a few times a week.
Older adults generally need fewer calories. However, their nutrient needs are just as high or higher than when they were younger. It’s why doctors and nutritionists recommend that aging adults plan meals that focus on nutrient-rich whole foods, lots of vegetables, and plenty of liquids. For more advice, check out this helpful information and infographic the National Council on Aging has put together on 6 Ways to Eat Well as You Get Older.
If you or your aging loved one is challenged with planning, preparing and consuming a healthy diet, we can help. FirstLight Home Care and our team of amazing caregivers can provide in-home support with meal planning and preparation, eating assistance, and grocery shopping.
What are you or your aging parents doing to stay fit and eat right? We’d enjoy hearing from you. Feel free to comment below or join our Facebook conversation where we’re sharing tips on nutrition and on staying active and healthy.
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National Institute on Aging
Aging Research (agingresearach.org)
Johns Hopkins Medicine