Here’s an article we should all be interested in for one reason or another. Whether it’s for our loved ones or for ourselves, we need to know what we need to do to be healthy in our later years. When we are, it’s easier on us, our families and our health care system. Keep reading today’s article by guest blogger, Felicity Dryer.
As advancements in both technology and medicine continues to rise, so does the number of senior citizens in the United States. Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are now advancing in age and the population of older Americans is expected to double by 2030, reaching around 70 million.
Also on the rise, the number of people opting for inhome care rather than hospice, nursing home or convalescent environments. Caring for ourselves and our aging loved ones matters to everyone, and there are some simple steps for more natural living that can help our seniors live longer, happier and healthier lives.
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), there is a guideline for the recommended caloric intake for people over the age of fifty:
Not physically active – around 1600 calories
Somewhat physically active – around 1800 calories
Physically active lifestyle – somewhere between 2000 and 2200 calories
Not physically active – around 2000 calories
Somewhat physically active – around 2200 to 2400 calories
Physically active lifestyle – somewhere between 2400 and 2800 calories
They also recommend at least two hours of physical activity per week which can be spread out in daily increments of about ten to fifteen minutes each day. As with any dietary and/or exercise regimen, always consult your doctor for beginning or changing your routine.
THE RIGHT FOODS
As we age, our dietary and nutritional needs change since seniors are at a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and a laundry list of other health risks. Remember the motto, “you are what you eat," which is more important than ever for seniors. What we eat, is just as important as how much we are consuming, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and getting more nutritional rewards from our foods.
Here are some healthy tips to keep in mind and try to eat at least two or three servings of healthier alternatives (fruits and veggies) every day:
Calcium: Since elders are losing bone mass, many of them take calcium supplements, but beyond obvious choices of milk, cheese and yogurt, consider broccoli, almonds, kale and tofu.
Fruits: Non-seasonal apples and bananas are often common choices, but remember other choices are usually available year round, melons and berries, which are high in antioxidants.
Vegetables: Color is key in this category. Reach for dark, green veggies, kale, broccoli and spinach, but don’t forget about carrots, squash, zucchini and even yams.
Grains: Choose more whole grains over processed white flour, which are richer in nutrients and provide more fiber. Look for the word “whole" in the ingredients and eat six to seven grams daily.
Protein: Limit consumption of red meat, high in cholesterol and opt for more fish, poultry and pork. Other foods high in protein include beans, nuts seeds and eggs.
REGULAR SLEEPING HABITS
According to another NIA study of over 9,000 men and women aged 65 and older, over half of them reported at least one sleep complaint that would be considered chronic. Many factors can contribute to insomnia in the elderly including a decrease in serotonin or increase in medications that often accompanies aging in adults.
Some ways of combating sleep disturbances include:
- Reducing or eliminating liquids, especially those containing sugar or caffeine, at least two hours before bedtime to prevent frequent urination during sleeping hours.
- Sticking to a sleep schedule with consistent bed and waking times.
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime since it interferes with deep REM sleep.
- Eating too much before retiring for the evening, foods that are difficult to digest or will upset the digestive system.
- Warm milk and decaffeinated herbal teas can aid with sleep.
Most adults, even seniors, require somewhere around seven to nine hours of sleep for the best health rewards. A chronic lack of sleep, especially for the elderly, can lead to depression and heart problems.
While many different types of family and ethnic factors can contribute to our health, there are many things that we can do to live a longer, happier and healthier life with more natural food choices and other beneficial habits.
About the Author
Originally born in Flagstaff, Arizona, Felicity Dryer was raised by her parents (more or less modern-day hippies) to always make her health a top priority. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career as a freelance health writer, and continues to help those seeking encouragement to keep moving forward to achieve their goals.
Do you have any additional tips that fit here? I would add having a social life and fun, which also guard against depression. This is something I saw in my own mother when she was living at home. Now she’s in a retirement home and thriving – mainly because she has a ton of friends!