September is Healthy Aging Month, a time in which we’re reminded of the inevitability of getting older. As we age, we notice changes happen in our bodies: our joints become stiffer, bones lose their density, and our skin becomes frail and thin, and thus prone to wrinkles. However, with a proper self-care regimen, seniors can retain their wellness for years to come, and enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle during the golden years!
Skin Care for Seniors
As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity; these effects can be exacerbated by lifestyle factors such as smoking or exposure to sun/UV rays. This results in a lack of smoothness and, of course, wrinkling. Due to the fact that the skin becomes more fragile, the organ loses its resiliency and may become more prone to bruising and injury. These factors make skin care a crucial step in personal hygiene, which includes moisturizing, wearing sunblock, and even proper shaving techniques! Using products free of harsh chemicals, such as parabens or sulfates, can help skin from becoming dry and brittle and free from irritation. Due to the skin being so fragile, seniors can be much more susceptible to skin infections than younger individuals, so proper precautions must be adhered to in order to avoid these complications. The usage of sunscreen can prevent skin cancer growth, a condition that 40-50% of people 60 years and older will experience. By taking care of your skin and not smoking, you can greatly reduce your risk of infection and cancer, and it may even help you look a few years younger!
Diet and Exercise
Adherence to proper nutrition is imperative for seniors, especially in those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Nutrients are what provide the body with energy and help to rebuild broken down muscle and joints, so avoiding bad foods should be a priority. While it is okay to enjoy a cookie or ice cream on a special occasion, processed foods with refined flour, high fructose corn syrup, and high amounts of sugar can cause health complications and weight gain. A diet heavy in green, leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean meats such as poultry and fish are recommended for seniors, along with leading an active lifestyle. It is very important to discuss your physical condition with your physician to determine if you are healthy enough for active exercises, especially in those with heart conditions and bone/joint injuries. Exercises such as walking, stretching, and water aerobics can serve as low-impact maneuvers to burn those calories and get hearts pumping! Also, gentle yoga can provide another exercise outlet for seniors and help to promote calmness and a sense of meditation. We must take care of our bodies physically – we only get one!
A Focus on Mental Health
A historically overlooked facet of health and wellness is a focus on mental health. It is very important that we consider mental health issues in seniors and recognize the signs and symptoms in order to provide relief. One of the most common mental illnesses that affects seniors is depression, which is characterized by persistent sadness or feelings of emptiness. Note that depression is not a character flaw – it can happen to anyone at anytime. Genetic disposition and major life changes, such as retirement or the death of a loved one, can sometimes trigger depressive episodes. Although there is no prevention of depression altogether, seniors can take steps to maintain balance in their mental health. Being open and honest about symptoms can help seniors identify and treat their problem; the most common ways to treat depression are through medication and psychological therapy. Also, mindfulness exercises such as meditation and relaxation techniques can also help to keep mental health in check.
It’s no secret that aging can be difficult, but a commitment to a healthy lifestyle can help alleviate the process and retain one’s youth! Eating a healthy, balanced diet, working out regularly, take care of your personal hygiene, and maintaining an honest perspective on mental health can put seniors ahead of the eight ball when it comes to aging, and add years to a robust life! If your aging parent or loved one could benefit from additional tips and help, be sure to call Advocare today at (561) 266-3489!