I am proud to bring you a guest article today from June Duncan. June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.
Practicing good physical and mental health habits is essential for seniors who want to take control of their overall well-being. Thoughts and feelings play an important role in our physical health, just as robust vitality depends on a positive mental outlook. Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies that can help seniors maintain a mind-body balance and enjoy a high quality of life.
Like any other organ, the brain changes as you age, and like any other organ, it can go into decline if neglected. Keeping your cognitive acuity sharp means keeping the brain engaged and healthy. It’s easy and it’s fun: Reading, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games can have a remarkably positive effect on the brain’s plasticity. Susceptibility to depression and memory loss is reduced, and your mental outlook remains positive, which keeps you in control of your life.
If you’re not sure which exercises you should do, take a look at the National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life program. It’s a senior lifestyle portal that incorporates physical activity, nutrition, and advice on staying motivated. Where exercise is concerned, you don’t have to set aside an hour or two every day to get enough exercise. It’s possible to get the same effect with 10- to 15-minute exercise breaks throughout your busy day. There are plenty of simple exercises that help with balance, flexibility, lower-body strength, and aerobic health.
Balance and Strength
Using a straight-back chair for balance, stand on one foot for 10 to 15 seconds, then do the other foot and alternate between the two several times. (Improving balance and lower-body strength can help seniors avoid falls at home.) Wall push-ups build upper-body strength, and they’re easy to do at work or home. To get started, stand an arm’s length from the wall, feet spread apart, and lean forward with palms against the wall. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly push back until your arms are straight, and repeat this process 10 times.
If you’re a Medicare enrollee, you have an important source of healthcare coverage, though there are coverage gaps. Medicare Advantage can fill in those gaps by offering vision and dental coverage and providing access to wellness programs with plans offered by providers like Aetna. Make sure your loved one has coverage sufficient to meet their needs, and take time to review their plan every year because Medicare plan benefits often shift.
Staying socially engaged is a strong antidote to isolation, which can be damaging to a senior’s mental health. Visiting with friends and family and volunteering in the community can strengthen existing relationships and help you develop new friendships. If you’re looking for a different approach to socialization, check out volunteer organizations in your area. Senior Corps, for instance, puts older adults age 55 and older in contact with organizations that need volunteer assistance. If you like helping older adults remain independent and safe in their homes, check out the National Center on Senior Transportation.
Your body changes as you grow older, but you still need a balanced, nutritional diet. That includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, protein and whole grains. If you’re looking for ideas on how to get enough of each food group, sites like Food and Nutrition provide information and resources for healthy eating in your community. Nutrition for Older Adults shows how a well-balanced diet helps reduce the risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease as well as chronic health problems like high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Mental, physical, and social engagement are vital components of a balanced and active lifestyle. Activities that keep both mind and body healthy are empowering and fun if you’re looking for ways to maintain control over your life. So, keep working toward that mind-body connection and an independent, active lifestyle.
About Fitness for Health:
Do you have an older loved one who could use assistance to improve balance, maintain weight management or better bone and joint health? We can help.
Fitness for Health is proud to provide a revolutionary, 12-week Bone and Joint Health Program for adults and seniors that capitalizes on weight-bearing, fitness activities. This groundbreaking program helps to improve posture and increase bone density, strength and balance while counteracting the effects of osteoporosis, osteopenia and aging.
The Bone and Joint Health Program elicits results faster and more effectively than traditional exercise (fitness for seniors) or pharmaceuticals through two state-of-the-art fitness technologies:
- bioDensity™ - Weight-bearing exercises are the key to stimulating bone growth, and the greater the weight applied, the better the results. The osteogenic loading that patients receive is multiples of bodyweight, and beyond what is typically seen in exercise. Research has shown, bone density gains that averaged 7% in the hip and 7.7% in the spine over one year using bioDensity (Jaquish, 2013). These results are multiples of what the current interventions can do for bone density.
- Power Plate™ - Power Plate is a whole body vibration platform that allows for reflexive engagement of the neuromuscular system at rapid and repeatable oscillation. This intervention has been clinically shown to increase balance and stability in both healthy and aging-frail populations.
When used once a week, research has shown the bioDensity system alone has significantly increased bone mass density, stability and functional movement with multiple ages, health conditions and for both genders.
Learn more about how we can help you create a customized fitness for seniors program that counteracts the signs of aging while helping to maintain weight management and increase bone and joint health.