For so many years, your parents took care of you. In fact, in many ways, they were your heroes. When the time comes for you to return the favor, it can be tough. You want to allow them to make their own decisions as much as possible, but you also want to make sure they stay healthy and happy. Because healthy living for seniors is different than it is for younger people, it’s important to focus on issues that affect them specifically.
A Guide to Healthy Living for Seniors
Good nutrition and physical and mental health are all things you need to stay on top of as your parent’s age. Here are some things you’ll want to make sure your loved one is doing to achieve those, and if they’re not, you’ll want to explore ways you can help.
Scheduling Regular Doctors Visits
Ask your parent(s) when the last time was they saw a doctor. Preventative care visits are extremely important when it comes to healthy living for seniors. They’ll need regular health screenings for cholesterol levels, heart problems, colon cancer, and more. Seniors also have vulnerable immune systems, so they should get vaccinations to help prevent pneumonia and the flu. If they don’t seem to mind you going with them, ask their physician for a list of medications he’s prescribed to so you can make sure they’re taking them correctly.
You should also ask your loved ones if they have been to the dentist in the past six months to be sure they don’t have cavities or mouth infections and check to see that they’ve been to the eye doctor in the past year to verify their prescription.
Exercise decreases the risk of heart disease, increases energy, and improves memory. Depending on your parent’s age, they should be getting up and moving around for at least a few short stints during the day. Getting outside for fresh air and sunlight is a great way to ease depression, so try to get them to go out for walks. Just make sure to discuss whatever exercise plan they choose with their physician.
Getting Mental Stimulation
Seniors need to keep their minds engaged, so make sure your parent is reading, doing crossword puzzles, or participating in activities or hobbies they enjoy. Social interaction is also really important to help them feel connected, so make sure to visit often and encourage them to join clubs or organizations.
Eating A Healthy Diet
When it comes to nutrition for the elderly, we have to pay close attention to make sure they are getting what they need in their diets. Red meat and fried foods can drive up cholesterol levels and clog arteries, so try to steer them toward better choices like baked poultry and fish. Since the digestive system slows down with age, healthy eating for seniors means lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are high in fiber. If they have a sweet tooth, suggest switching from ice cream to frozen yogurt. And since seniors are prone to dehydration, make sure they always have enough water nearby.
Getting Plenty of Sleep
Many older adults deal with insomnia and frequent night wakings, which could be due to the fact that as we age, our bodies produce less melatonin. Some elderly people have a hard time sleeping due to being in pain, or because of a side effect of a medication. Lack of sleep can lead to feelings of sadness, memory problems, and excessive sleepiness that causes clumsiness and even falls. Since healthy living for seniors depends on sleep, it’s imperative to find out whether your loved one is getting enough of it.
Talk to your parent about their sleep habits, and if they don’t seem to be getting 6 or 7 hours of sleep at night, ask these questions:
- Are you napping a lot during the day? If so, encourage them to shorten naps or cut one out since naps could lead to nighttime wakefulness.
- Could any of your medications be keeping you up? This may be a question for their doctor. If the answer is yes, ask for an alternative.
- Are you drinking caffeine late in the day? If so, suggest that they have their last cup no later than noon, and recommend chamomile tea before bed which can help induce sleep.
- What are you watching at night? Since anxiety is already heightened at this age, disturbing stories on the evening news or TV shows could keep them awake with worry. Encourage them to watch something light-hearted or read a book instead.
- Are you comfortable? If they’re waking up in pain, they may be more comfortable on a new mattress.
Does the Senior in Your Life Need a New Bed?
Aging is accompanied by a lot of pain in the joints. Many mattresses can be uncomfortable for the elderly, but Herobed is built to provide pressure relief in all the right places. With a top layer of conforming memory foam and 3,000 supportive micro coils, Herobed can reduce pain in the shoulders, hips, and back. Since your parent – your hero – deserves a great night’s sleep, think about surprising them with a true hybrid mattress!