A Senior's Guide to Improving Overall Well-Being
Guest Author: Jason Lewis
As we age, it is normal for our health to begin to decline. However, many of the aspects of aging we might consider standard are actually not normal or natural at all. For example, dementia is not normal aging; it’s a disease. In fact, by understanding what is going on with your body, you can take control of your health and work to prevent many of the disorders and diseases commonly associated with aging. Your health is in your hands more than you might think.
There are many things you can do to maintain your physical and mental health as you age. Both aspects of your health contribute to your overall well-being and can even affect each other, so it is essential to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Here are some simple ways to take control of your health and maintain your well-being into your twilight years.
Spend Time Outside
With the advent of air conditioning and artificial lights, more and more people are spending the majority of their time indoors. This is even more true for seniors who might have mobility problems or just no reason to go outside now that they’re retired.
However, spending time outside is great for all aspects of your health. Business Insider explains that spending time in nature improves your short-term memory, relieves stress, reduces inflammation, increases concentration, and is even linked to a lower risk of cancer. The best part is that nature is free and relatively accessible. Even placing your feet in the grass for a couple of minutes is linked with increased circulation and mental relaxation.
Perhaps most importantly, nature can also help fight and prevent depression. Seniors are sadly at an increased risk for depression in our modern age. This is likely due to decreased social interaction,feelings of isolation, chronic illnesses, and troubles with mobility. Families are moving further and further away from each other, which puts a real obstacle in the way of seniors who only want to interact with others. Being in nature, however, improves your mental health, reduces the symptoms of depression, and boosts a senior’s overall well-being.
If you’re the caregiver of a senior, it is essential to look for the symptoms of depression, including loss of interests in activities that were once enjoyed, change in appetite, and a change in sleeping patterns. Suddenly sleeping too little or too much are bothsigns of depression. It is not uncommon for those with depression to spend time in bed or on the couch for the majority of the day but also have difficulty going to sleep. Sleeping too much one day and too little the next is also typical. While some might think that depression is just a sign of aging, this is not true. No amount of depression is healthy, and professional help might be necessary.
Even when you’re older, exercise is agreat way to take control of both your mental and physical health. Much like spending time outdoors, exercise can improve your mental well-being. In fact, Psychology Today states that exercise is essential to your mental health. Inactivity is a crucial factor of mental decline. Exercise stimulates our bodies to produce natural “feel-good” hormones. Without exercise, we do not get these natural mood boosts. For seniors who might have mobility problems, this can be even more dramatic.
However, just because you aren’t as young and fit as you once were doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise at all. There are manygentle exercises that are designed to help seniors stay active while also preventing injuries. Even a walk around the house or sweeping the floor can provide enough exercise to get you started. There are many indoor exercisesideal for seniors, including chair and step exercises.
Stay on Top of Your Medications
Overmedication among seniors is a big issue. Often, medications are prescribed to treat the side effects of other medications, which leads to more prescriptions and more side effects.
While you shouldn’t stop any medications without talking with your doctor first, it is entirely okay to ask your doctor if you really need any of the medicines you’re on. Revisiting what drugs you need and weaning off of those that are no longer necessary is a normal part of any health plan.
It is important to remember that just because a medication is not prescribed doesn’t mean it cannot cause adverse effects. Even dietary supplements can have adverse effects on your overall health. It is not uncommon for middle-aged adults to fall ill due to something as simple as a multivitamin. We recommend carrying a list of all the medications you are taking, including dietary supplements, and regularly having them all screened for dosage and interactions.
You might also want to consider alternative therapies, such as spending more time in nature, instead of prescription medications. Next time you see your doctor, ask what type of lifestyle changes you could make to improve your health. Sometimes, asimple walk around the neighborhood can replace a whole prescription.
Staying on top of your health is essential for any age, but it is particularly important for seniors, who face an increased risk of various mental and physical diseases. There are many free activities you can partake in to keep your well-being in check and your outlook positive. Even something as simple as spending time outside in the fresh air can do wonders for your health.
This content is strictly the opinion of our guest blog author, Jason Lewis, and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. The statements of this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. iHeart Nature does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Neither iHeart Nature nor the representatives take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions.