10 Essential Daily Health Tips for Seniors
It’s very easy for us, any of us, to get lax in our health habits these days, with crowded schedules and, let’s face it, the temptations of unhealthy habits like French Fries, Doughnuts, and Ice Cream…
When we’re young, we tend to take our health for granted, straying off the healthy lifestyle path at will, with little or no consequences beyond maybe a sugar rush, a little stomach discomfort, or maybe a cavity.
As we get older, it becomes increasingly obvious that unhealthy choices – like sitting for long periods of time, eating too much greasy food, not eating enough vegetables – have repercussions more serious than a stomach ache. For example, we are more at risk for various diseases (High blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and even the “C” word) and traumatic events (like heart-attack and stroke). Obviously these risks exist at any age, they are just more top of mind as we get older.
What can we do to live healthier without taking all the fun out of living?
How can we still enjoy those treats, but show our bodies the respect they deserve, so they continue to serve us well?
Those are exactly the questions we are addressing today with the 10 Essential Daily Healthy Tips for Seniors (Although, these tips can apply to more than just seniors).
- Drink water! – At least eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. Despite some sources saying that water can be substituted with other beverages like fruit juice, milk or decaffeinated coffee or tea, none of these options are truly a substitute for clean, pure water. If you aren’t already, get in the habit of having a glass or bottle of water with you throughout the day, and be sure to drink it.
- Get a good night’s sleep – As we get older, we tend to wake up more during the night, or, worse yet, have trouble getting to sleep at all (insomnia). Our bodies heal while we sleep, so restful sleep is absolutely essential. According to sleep.org, adults still need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to be fully rested. If you are falling short of this, talk with your doctor about possible causes. It could be something as simple as consuming caffeine and/or sugar too close to bedtime, to something more serious like sleep apnea. You owe it to yourself to be well rested to help achieve your optimal health.
- Stay physically active – This may be different for each of us, based on our own limitations and abilities. It’s best to talk with your doctor to determine the best fit for you. In some cases it might be a walk around the block, or maybe some light yoga at home, or maybe an activity at the local aquatic center or YMCA. Whatever physical activity you have the ability to do, if possible, try to do it at least 3 to 5 days per week. Our bodies are meant to be active, and, in general, we feel better when we are active. Being physically active can also improve balance, helping us avoid common slips and falls.I will stress again, however, be sure you have your doctor’s approval before starting any new physical activity.
- Manage stress – We all have stress in our lives, bills, family, work, no work…the list goes on. Meditation and yoga are two possible, non-medicinal, ways to help reduce the stress in your life. Which one is right for you? That’s a good question, and one only you can answer, however, you can find out more I have included a resource for each. Click here for more information on Mediation, and click here for more info about yoga. There are plenty more resources, just do a Google search and you will find plenty, even some options close to where you live. Regardless whether you choose meditation, yoga, gardening, jigsaw puzzles, or Sudoku, find an activity that brings you joy and solace, and spend some time each day doing it…you will be amazed at the difference it makes.
- Quit smoking – If you are still using tobacco, whether you’re smoking cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe, using some sort of chewing tobacco or snuff, or using a vaping device, now is a good time to put away that habit for good. You can get help from your doctor, use over-the-counter patches or gums, or use another method to help you quit. There are no known health benefits of tobacco, and only a long list of problems it causes. It’s not too late to take a big step toward better health and rid yourself of that habit once and for all.
- Avoid or limit junk food – I know, I know…what goes better with that sandwich than some potato chips? A nice bowl of ice cream after dinner is a soothing and delicious treat…A piece of cake? Don’t mind if I do…The problem with junk food is that it tastes amazing in the moment, but afterwards, if you tune into it, you will notice a few of the effects of those fatty, sugary, unhealthy treats: You will feel lethargic, you will likely feel hungry (sugar stimulates the appetite), you may feel flushed from the sugar, you may even find yourself feeling feeling stuffed up or a sore throat. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy the occasional treat, but if you currently have a one or two bowl of ice cream per day habit, maybe try cutting down to once or twice per week, and see what a difference it makes…
- Choose your fats – There is no shortage of fats and oils, not only in the food we eat, but also as a choice for us to cook with, and use in recipes. The key is to stick mostly with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and keep saturated and trans fats to a minimum. Saturated and Trans fats are typically found in animal products (beef, lamb, milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc), and processed foods of all types. The unsaturated fats are typically plant based (nuts and seeds), but also found in lean meats like fish and chicken. These are the fats that help keep the good and bad cholesterol in balance. Also, Omega-3 and Omega-6 has been shown in some studies to improve brain function. Whenever possible, choose unsaturated options.
- Fiber is your friend – I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “eat more fiber”…but do you really know why? Fiber comes in two different types, Soluble and Insoluble. Soluble fiber breaks down in water and can help your body lower cholesterol and regulate glucose. Insoluble fiber helps “keep things moving” through your digestive system, which can help produce more regular bowel movements. You can get fiber from things like whole-grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, peas and other legumes, nuts, and seeds. For more information on adding fiber to your diet, you can check out this article from the Mayo Clinic. Another benefit is that fiber tends to fill you up, so you tend to eat less. Make fiber your friend.
- Fruits and Vegetables – We could all use a little help incorporating more whole fruits and vegetables into our diets. In general, we should aim for 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. There is a host of benefits we get from eating fruits and vegetables. For one thing, they provide us with essential nutrients not found from other sources, like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate and Potassium. They also contain a significant amount of water and fiber, which, aside from the obvious benefits, also help fill us up so we eat less. Eating more fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of chronic disease. They are naturally low in fat and sodium and they are cholesterol free. They may even contribute to lowering blood pressure, lowering blood cholesterol levels, and possibly reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. If that’s not enough to convince you to add more fruits and veggies to your diet, check out this article full of ideas on creative ways to add them to your existing diet. They taste great, and add flavor and variety to your diet.
- Avoid processed foods – We completely understand how simple and easy it is to pop a frozen dinner into the microwave to heat and eat. Prep is easy, cleanup is easy, and, in general, those taste pretty good. Breaded chicken, frozen pizzas, mac & cheese, burritos, chinese food, the possibilities are practically endless. The problem is, these meals tend to have pretty high levels of sodium, fat and calories. It’s really difficult to eat healthy while choosing these “convenience foods”. In fact, they are rarely much better for you than a meal at a fast food restaurant. A better option would be cook for yourself, and make extra that you can enjoy as leftovers. For example, buy a pack of fresh or frozen chicken tenders. Cook them in the oven or in a frying pan (with some olive oil and seasonings), some brown rice (you can add black beans for variety and protein), and some frozen broccoli or cauliflower. It really doesn’t take much longer to cook than to heat and eat a frozen dinner, but the health difference is significant. You can even check the local sale flyer and choose the meat based on the best prices of the week. You will notice the difference pretty quickly – it will add some spring to your step.
Hopefully these 10 tips help you see that you don’t have to completely change every aspect of your life to be healthy. One small change here, another little adjustment there, small changes really can make a big difference. Just start with number 1, and then you can go from there, your body will thank you.
If you, or someone you know, is living independently, but could use just a little help, give us a call. There is no charge or obligation for a consultation, and we would be happy to discuss the situation and recommend a course of action. You can call us at (678) 494-8129, email us at email@example.com, or simply click Contact Us.
Tune into our next blog post, coming soon, where we will be providing some helpful tips for the holidays…which are right around the corner…