Top Ten Healthy Habits to Help Seniors Age in Place

Written by James Fleming

If you’ve never really prioritized health before, you may think it’s too late now that you’ve retired or are about to retire. In reality, though, it’s never too late and in fact, your health matters more now than ever before.

The sooner you start implementing healthy habits, the longer you are likely live and the greater your quality of life will be. Even if you’re currently struggling with pain or an illness, these ten habits can help reduce your symptoms and allow you to continue aging in place.

1. Take a Daily Multivitamin
Micronutrient deficiencies are common among senior citizens, and the deficiencies seem to get worse as age increases. A daily multivitamin is a great tool that you can use to avoid the health risks that come from these deficiencies.

A daily multivitamin contributes to one’s overall health and is especially beneficial for days when you under eat or simply don’t eat as healthfully as you’d like.

2. Get an Annual Physical
If you’re relying on Medicare, you’re entitled to a free physical during the first twelve months. After that, you receive a free annual wellness visit.

Be sure to take advantage of these free visits to make sure you’re staying on top of your health. If you are suffering from any illness, you’ll be able to catch it earlier. Your doctor will also be able to let you know if you are at risk of developing any specific diseases.

3. Prioritize Prevention
Preventative care visits — such as health screenings and vaccinations — are almost always covered by Medicare as well. Take advantage of these screenings and vaccines to ensure you’re keeping illness at bay and catching any issues that might be present early on.

4. Let Go of What You Can’t Control
Research shows that the people who live the longest are typically those who do not dwell on the difficulties they may be facing. Being able to manage stress and let go of the things that are out of your control is good for your physical and mental well-being. Mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, and tai chi are great for helping you improve your ability to stop internalizing things you can’t change.

5. Visit the Dentist Twice a Year
As you age, your risk of cavities increases. Mouth infections have also been linked to a variety of chronic and serious conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. To prevent these and maintain good oral health, regular dentist visits (every six months) are a good idea.

6. Keep Your Mental Health in Check
Mental health is another essential component of a high quality of life. Many seniors struggle with depression and anxiety. Work on maintaining a positive attitude and try to find friends or family members with whom you can share your worries or problems. Keeping these things bottled up will only make your depression or anxiety worse.

7. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise will also help keep depression and anxiety at bay. It’s also just good for overall health. Seniors who exercise regularly are less likely to experience falls, and, if you struggle with arthritis or chronic pain, you may also find that it helps alleviate your symptoms.

8. Eat a Healthy Diet
Taking a multivitamin is important, but remember that it’s a supplement — it shouldn’t replace your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality animal products. To maintain your health and age in place, a healthy and balanced diet is essential. Be sure to also drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

9. Get Plenty of Sleep
Many seniors struggle with insomnia or poor quality sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool to promote better rest. You can also use natural sleep aids to help you get plenty of shut-eye (prescription sleep aids should be a last resort, as they can cause dizziness and increase your risk of falls).

10. Stay Connected
Finally, make sure you’re spending time with people you love on a regular basis. Friends, children, grandchildren — they all can help you feel connected and make it easier for you to maintain a positive attitude. This, in turn, will lengthen your lifespan and improve your quality of life.

There is No Going Back

Fond memories of days gone by are a joy to replay in our mind’s eye. Whether reliving a particularly happy time in our life or recalling a rare perfect confluence of all things good, our past can be a riverbed of precious nuggets waiting to be mined. Occasionally memories might even outshine the life we currently live.Do you ever find yourself tempted to return to that special place packed with special memories to do it all again? It was so perfect – why not go back? You might stay at that same wonderful bed and breakfast, maybe even in the same room. Is that spectacular dining spot still around, perhaps with that identical table and oh-so-memorable view? Maybe you take again that same wandering path through hillside vineyards or find once more the hidden wine shop tucked inconspicuously into an obscure corner of the village. Though memories may be clear, the way back is not always.

About nine years ago my wife and I visited an off-the-beaten-path restaurant in Intragna, Switzerland. Our table was one of about fifteen spread comfortable across one large room. The food was incredible. I swear I can still taste the truffle pasta. Through the window we gazed upon a little valley speckled with brightly painted houses the air resonating with bell-clanging cows while in the distance lurked the ever present snow capped mountains. As the meal unfolded we witnessed the slow progression of a spectacular sunset painting the world a royal red before closing down the day. Service was friendly and nine years later I still remember my first sip of grappa from those foot long bottles they acrobatically poured at meal’s end.

The memory remains crystal clear, like we were just there. Talk about the perfect moment.

Last year we revisited this spot excited to relive our nostalgic experience. I think we were realistic – we did not expect such a perfect moment but were hoping for something close.  It turns out our memories far out shined current day reality. The experience was not bad it just was not a good as before.  The food was not quite as tasty, the service mediocre, and the whole vibe was a bit off. That certain magic was missing despite some near misses.

Messing with perfect memories can be a risky proposition. What are the chances the second time around will be better or even as good? You can safely assume not everything will be the same. And there is always the chance they will be worse, inferior, not worthy of special memory categorization at all. Imperfections might actually pollute that perfect picture painted years ago. Is it worth the risk?

My dad grew up in Sioux City, South Dakota. Over the years he shared many colorful stories of his life adventures, some comical, some heart rending, all near and dear to him. A few years ago he took my mom on a trip to show her his old stomping grounds. You would expect signs of “progress” over the interim fifty-plus years (aka traffic, sprawl, dirt roads converted to highways, all the wonderful ingredients of growth). Not only were most of the familiar landmarks gone, they could not even find where the old farmstead had been. Little was as it had been when dad was growing up. Fortunately they were able to hook up with my dad’s roommate from medical school so the trip was still a success. That said it was not what they had hoped.

Revisiting and attempting to relive a perfect moment is a noble pursuit. What fun it can be to plan and make arrangements to do it all over again. We do all we can to get it right, down to the smallest detail, and hope for the best. If things do not work out exactly as we hope it will not be due to any lack of trying.

Some may choose to play it safe – leave that perfect memory alone and savor it in blissful review. Break out a nice Pinot Noir, bring out those pictures and take an invigorating virtual stroll down memory lane. Ah but those were good times.

But if you decide to play it safe what about those potential new memories that will never be realized? Although our second Intragna excursion was not on par with the first, while on the trip we discovered the beauty of Thun where we took a lovely boat ride around the lake and wandered the historical streets in search of amazing pastries. Other new experiences included walking the castle wall in Lucerne overlooking the city and nearby mountains, a quick ferry across the Rhine in Basel, and a truly amazing walk among the vineyards along Lake Neuchatel. Now we can add these new special memories to our existing database.

Good memories are a wonderful thing. While we are still able to why not make as many of them as possible. Cheers 🙂

LoveBeingRetired.com

Lower Body Strength: Why it Matters for Seniors and What They Can Do to Maintain It

Written by James Fleming

Muscle loss and a lack of strength are common complaints among senior citizens. In fact, 5-13 percent of seniors aged 60-70 and 11-50 percent of seniors aged 80 and up suffer from muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia.

Some seniors make the mistake of assuming muscle loss is normal. Not only is it not the norm, but it also can seriously hinder a senior’s quality of life and leave them susceptible to all kinds of injuries.

Lower body strength is especially important for older adults who want to maintain their independence as they age.

Read on to learn more about the importance of lower body strength for seniors, what they can do to improve their strength, and how they can maintain the strength that they currently have.

Why Lower Body Strength Matters

Strengthening the muscles in the lower body helps improve bone strength and density in older adults. This is especially important for older women, who are more prone to a loss of bone density after menopause.

Strengthening the lower body also helps improve balance and stamina. This, in turn, decreases the risk of experiencing hip and knee injuries. It also decreases the risk of falling, which is the leading cause of fatal injury among senior citizens.

A strong lower body also makes it easier for seniors to live independently and perform daily functions like walking, standing up from a chair or bed, and climbing the stairs.

What Seniors Can Do to Build and Maintain Lower Body Strength

As you can see, lower body strength matters a great deal for senior citizens who want to enjoy a high quality of life. Listed below are three of the best exercises for seniors who need to strengthen their lower body:

Sit to Stand

One goal all seniors can work toward is being able to stand up from a chair or bed without assistance. In fact, this skill is correlated with a longer lifespan!

To be able to do this, seniors need to have strong quadriceps (front of the thigh) muscles. To strengthen their quads and work toward standing up unassisted, seniors can simply practice sitting in a chair and standing back up.

At first, they’ll probably need to use the armrests or hold onto someone else for support. With practice, though, they’ll be able to work up to sitting and standing completely on their own!

Stationary Lunges

A stationary lunge is a more advanced exercise that helps strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and calves in addition to the quadriceps.

To do a stationary lunge, stand with the legs together. Then, take a large step back with the left leg and stand with the left heel lifted. Stand up straight with the hands on the hips.

Slowly bend the legs and lower the body down toward the floor until the knees form 90-degree angles — don’t let the left knee hit the floor. Slowly rise back up, then repeat for eight repetitions before switching sides.

Swiss Ball Squats

This is another good quadriceps strengthener; it also targets the glutes and hips.To do this exercise, stand up straight with a swiss ball between your shoulders and a wall. Lean back against the ball and slowly bend the knees to lower into a squat. Once the legs have formed a 90-degree angle, press into the ground with the feet and rise back up. Repeat for eight repetitions.

Tools for Seniors Who Lack Lower Body Strength

For seniors who are currently recovering from an injury or suffer from a severe lack of lower body strength, there are a number of tools that can help them get around while they heal, including the following:

While the goal is to eventually move away from these tools, it’s great to have them on hand during the recovery process or for seniors who are just getting started with a strength routine.