As we age, taking care of our physical and mental health becomes even more important. September is recognized as Healthy Aging Month, a time to celebrate the many lifestyle strategies for seniors and senior health tips for aging gracefully.
“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 can help them live longer too.
Aging and Mental Health: Activities To Improve Your Mental Health
One in five older adults experiences mental health concerns that are not a normal part of aging—the most common of which are anxiety or mood disorders including depression.
Mental health is as important as physical health. Good mental health contributes to an overall feeling of well-being, impacting your stress levels, memory, sleep and how you think and feel about yourself. There are many ways you can improve your mental health, but here are three important activities FirstLight Home Care often helps clients participate in:
Focus on emotional and cognitive health with regular physical activity. While physical activity produces chemicals in the body that promote emotional well-being, inactivity can make depression, anxiety and stress worse.
Focus on emotional health by staying in touch with friends, family and the greater community. Whether physically healthy or ill, people who feel connected to others are more likely to age gracefully than socially isolated people.
Focus on positive thinking for a longer, happier life. Those kinds of thoughts can create real value and help reduce stress. Positive thinking and optimism on health can even lower depression, improve coping skills during times of stress and psychological and physical well-being.
Good Nutrition and Aging
Smart food choices are part of promoting 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 to 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.
Eating alone can be depressing and can lead to a poor nutritional diet. Invite family, friends or neighbors to join your loved one 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. This is 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 even grocery shopping.
FirstLight Home Care – Healthy Aging Month
Healthy Aging Month is an opportunity to celebrate seniors’ accomplishments and acknowledge their contributions to society. Promoting healthy aging requires a holistic approach that caters to seniors’ physical, mental and social needs. When we implement lifestyle strategies for seniors by encouraging them to engage in physical and cognitively stimulating activities, FirstLight Home Care can ensure that seniors are aging gracefully and enjoying good health well into their golden years.