In the United States, once someone reaches the age of 65, they can live, on average, for nearly 20 more years. Facing a longer life expectancy means facing more healthcare conditions, both mental and physical. Some common conditions that affect people 65 and older include:
- Heart Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disorder
Even with the potential of these chronic conditions, there is still a lot of hope. More than 40 percent of seniors report experiencing good or excellent health in their golden years. So, what makes the difference between those happy, healthy seniors and others who struggle?
Lifestyle choices — it’s both that simple and that complex.
Want to understand which lifestyle choices you could make to boost your overall well-being? Here are seven common ways seniors can take control of their physical and mental health.
Choosing a healthcare plan that covers and encourages preventative care is an effective way to stay fit over 65. While most traditional Medicare plans have gaps in this area, many Medicare Advantage plans offer supplemental coverage that can improve your quality of life. Coverage changes frequently and can vary by state, so it’s important to learn about specific options.
Stopping smoking at any age reduces your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. In fact, in as little as 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your body starts healing the damage from cigarette smoking. Quitting smoking can positively impact almost all of the chronic conditions that seniors face, from diabetes to COPD. The sooner you quit, the better.
Eat Less Meat
Cutting back on red meat may prevent heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Higher meat consumption often leads to higher cholesterol, an increased chance of heart disease, and a higher mortality rate. Roughly 650,000 people each year die because of heart disease. Replace red meat with dishes that include more fish, nuts, and vegetables.
Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise three to four times a week can go a long way for your physical and mental health. Studies show that many chronic illnesses seniors face are actually more closely linked to inactivity than age. Exercise is also a natural mood booster. It is a healthy way to produce dopamine, relieve tension, and cope with stress in our lives.
Sitting in silence and stillness sounds a lot easier than it actually is — but it is incredibly important, especially for seniors. Meditation has been shown to improve memory, stave off cognitive dysfunction, improve blood pressure, and help regulate mood. Start with 10 minutes a day and try to work your way up slowly. If sitting still is too challenging, consider a walking meditation practice while you’re learning the ropes.
Senior isolation can have devastating impacts on physical and mental health. From leading to depression to contributing to higher mortality rates, seniors who feel alone or helpless report having fewer reasons to feel motivated to focus on their health and well-being. So, join friends for walks or even better Pilates classes. We offer Silver Pilates in the Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg studio. This class is designed to make sure Pilates is safe for Seniors. We focus on range of motion in joints, balance and strength.
Reduce Sugar and Processed Foods
Obesity is a real concern for seniors. As the body ages, moving around becomes more complicated, meaning our diets can have even more of an impact on our health. Plus, the constant high and crash of a sugar-fueled diet can wreak havoc on our energy levels and mental health. Talk to your physician to decide on a diet that is ideal for your health needs.
Seniors are given too much during their lives to spend their golden years burdened with mental and physical health concerns. Fortunately, you can make decisions about your life right now that can take your future in a happy, healthy direction.