If you are a family caregiver, ensuring your senior maintains their health can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Inevitably, little things snowball into big things and can often lead to a decline in overall health. To help prevent this cycle, let’s look first at establishing healthy habits for your senior (or even yourself)!
- Focus on Prevention
It's much easier to prevent a condition or health risk from forming than treating it, especially for older adults. An excellent way to make sure your senior stays healthy is to schedule regular, preventative health appointments and screenings. While seniors often see doctors regularly, they may only see a doctor for existing conditions. Remembering to schedule teeth cleanings, eye appointments and physicals with their primary care physician can help to keep new problems from arising.
It's no secret that maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in preventing serious problems. Your senior doesn't need to be in the gym "pumping iron" seven days a week, start off with small and obtainable goals. Try walking for 30-minutes three days a week. If your loved one isn’t mobile enough to be walking on their own, most gyms offer senior-geared classes such as water aerobics and SilverSneakers.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
As the saying goes, “weight loss is 80% diet and only 20% exercise”. It’s easy for seniors, especially if they live alone, to get into unhealthy eating habits like lots of pre-made frozen meals or junk food. A good practice is to shop as much as possible around the perimeter of your grocery store, which typically is where to locate the freshest food. Limit to buying plenty of fruits, veggies, and meats. If your senior is unable to cook, explore meal services that specialize in preparing healthy food.
Establish Sleep Habits
A restful night sleep is vital for a healthy mental and physical state. Unfortunately, for many older adults insomnia and frequent waking are common. Try to limit TV and computer access starting around 7-8pm. This, as well as dimming lights, help spur drowsiness. Make sure your loved one’s bedroom is cool (not too hot or cold), comfortable and quiet for ideal sleeping conditions.
A significant contributing factor to mental health is how much outside socialization they receive on an ongoing basis. Encourage them to go out with friends or sign them up for an activity like art classes. We all get lonely, and seniors are no different. This stimulation will help them remain positive and upbeat.
Senior's health may not be top of mind for them, but it's important that you encourage them and help establish healthy habits. Healthy habits in all areas of their life will drastically improve their quality of life.