Tag Archives: Health For Seniors

It’s Never Too Late to Improve Health

With the average life expectancy constantly on the rise, maintaining one’s health later in life is becoming more important than ever. Taking measures now to improve the elderlys’ health will aid in preventing chronic disease and restoring vigor. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition outlines the following steps every elderly person should undertake to restore or maintain their health.

Body Changes with Aging

As people age they naturally undergo fundamental changes in their body composition. Elderly lose lean body mass, which consists primarily of muscle and bone, and they gain weight with age as their metabolic rate is reduced.  However, there are steps that can be taken to slow the effects of aging and even reverse these consequences. The elderly should consume high quality protein and whole grains with complex carbohydrates and high fiber, saturated fat should be limited. Watching one’s dietary intake is extremely important with the elderly as they have an increased risk of gaining excess weight, which can lead to additional health problems. 

Obesity plays a damaging effect on one’s health and aids in the development of several diseases in older adults.  Obesity can lead to elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer. Treating an elderly individual’s obesity provides great benefits to those with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, those with osteoarthritis and individuals with respiratory problems. However, extreme weight loss may be due to a progressive or preexisting disease, and many elderly people tend to lose weight prior to their death.

Exercise

Making exercise a daily part of life for the elderly is is important to their health. Regular physical activity decreases body weight, total body fat and body mass index while increasing muscle and bone mass. The three main areas the elderly should focus on are:

  1. Cardiovascular
  2. Weight-lifting small amounts of weight
  3. Flexibility through stretching

Combining these exercises will improve movement, mobility, balance and posture. As posture deteriorates it becomes increasingly more difficult to breath and losing ones balance may lead to an increase risk of falling. Exercise needs to become a way of life for the elderly, just as their diet becomes a part of their lifestyle.

Cancer Prevention

Diet, nutrition and lifestyle contribute to the development of cancer in 1/3 of all cases. The risk of cancer is reduced in the elderly who abide by healthy nutritional recommendations. It is never too late for elderly adults to make lifestyle changes through diet and exercise to aid in preventing cancer and living an overall healthier lifestyle.

The Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly

Staying young at heart and improving your overall health are inevitable benefits when it comes to exercise. With age our hearts and bones may weaken, making exercise invaluable.

The benefits of exercise are endless. Even a small improvement in strength can assist joints and make your parent’s ability to sit, stand and walk significantly easier. Exercise also improves the quality of sleep, making it easier for people who regularly exercise to engage in sleep more deeply. Participating in physical activity releases endorphins, so your parents will feel happier and more content. It also increases brain functionality and helps in combating diseases, fighting depression and preventing Alzheimer and dementia.

Before beginning an exercise regimen it is important for seniors to get a checkup from the family doctor. If your parent will be exercising in the comfort of their own home it is also advisable to get a medical alert system in case of emergency. Medical alert systems, like LifeFone, provide on call specialists 24 hours a day to ensure early intervention.

Exercise for the elderly does not have to be strenuous. It is important to focus on four main areas of exercise: stretching, strengthening, endurance and balance.

Stretching will help prevent injuries from daily movement, it is also important to stretch before exercising to loosen up tight, cold muscles. Important areas to concentrate on include the calves, hamstrings, shoulders, triceps and the upper and lower back.

Purchasing a light, basic set of hand weights is essential to strengthening. However, your parents might want to start out with no weights to test their strength and work up to using them. Take all exercises slow. It is also important to work on strengthening your back as you age since it can stiffen and become more sensitive. Working on your back will help with overall health.

Whether your parent or loved one decides to jog, walk or swim, they will gain endurance as long as they participate in these exercises consistently. It is important to drink water before and after exercising and have your parents check their heart rate.

Balance is lost with age, but it can be improved through exercise. Balance exercises should not be attempted alone. Falls are of great concern to the elderly, so the more time they can spend improving balance, the easier it will be for them to maintain good health and independence.