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.
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:
- Weight-lifting small amounts of weight
- 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.
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.