By Jason Lewis
As we grow older, it is easy to feel like we are losing control over our body’s health. Even if we know that the effort we put in now will pay off in our long-term well-being and independence, it can be overwhelming to consider all the different things we should be doing to achieve that.
The best way forward is to start small and to build up from there. All of the following tips can be implemented almost immediately with little to no interference with your everyday routine, but they can be extremely powerful in keeping you in control of your health as you age.
Put Safety First
An important aspect of overall health for seniors is avoiding injury, especially falls. Many seniors choose to age in place, but 60 percent of falls occur at home. You can reduce the chances of falling by modifying your home. These projects can be as simple as installing grab bars in the bathroom and hand rails on the sides of stairs. Make sure the flooring, mats, and rugs are made of non-slip material. Install ample lighting throughout the home because seniors need more light than younger people.
Invest in Tech
Working on fitness is a great way to prevent injury, but accidents do still happen. Seniors can make sure that they are immediately taken care of in case of an emergency using a medical alert system. There are various options on the market, so do some research to find out the best one for your needs.
Expand Your Health Insurance
Medicare is an extremely useful service, but it does not cover everything. In fact, many specific health problems and treatments are not included in Original Medicare. A Medicare Advantage plan combines Medicare coverage with a private insurance plan to deliver better benefits and coverage — look at the plans available in your state to see how you could be better protected.
Start Lifting Weights
Many seniors avoid weight training because they are scared of injury or simply because they feel it is not “for them.” However, sarcopenia, a loss of skeletal muscle associated with aging, can have a long-term negative impact on mobility. As such, seniors need to work out their muscles to prevent this from happening. Strength training doesn’t have to be super-intense. A dumbbell program of simple exercises twice a week is enough to get you started.
Regular stretching can help seniors stay flexible, but it can also alleviate pain, reduce stress, soothe stiff joints and tight muscles, and improve your balance. All of this contributes to improved mobility, which, in turn, allows for independence until much later in life.
Commit to a small series of stretches — try out these suggestions by Aaptiv — that you do every morning. This won’t take longer than five or 10 minutes, but doing so can make a world of difference to your long-term well-being. If you want to try something more holistic, then try these yoga routines for seniors, which combine flexibility with the many other benefits of yoga, including balance, breathing, and strength training.
Build Physical Activity
Exercise is an essential part of a healthy routine; however, equally important (if not more so) is regular physical activity. The difference is that one is something you set aside specific time to do, while the other is built into your daily life.
Physical activity keeps you moving throughout the day, burning small amounts of calories on an ongoing basis and preventing the illnesses associated with a sedentary lifestyle. To build physical activity into your life, walk more often and avoid too much time without moving.
No one improves their health overnight. Small, gradual changes that you take time to research are much more likely to work than sudden rash decisions to get healthier (they also tend to be a lot safer). Whether it’s an immediate switch, like buying the right piece of tech or making sure your insurance covers you for what you need, or a longer goal, approaching things in a considered way ensures you are always making the best decisions for your well-being.