From illness to loss of loved ones, getting older certainly comes with its fair share of challenges — but it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. By taking charge of both physical and mental health, you can drastically improve your quality of life, providing you’re willing to put forth a little effort to get there. Here are some key things to address that can help you live out your leisure years with vigor.
Address Mental Health Issues
Studies indicate that depression is common in older adults — approximately seven million seniors aged 65-plus experience symptoms each year. Health issues, death, and isolation are among the top reasons the elderly are experiencing the blues, but it’s important that these feelings and emotions are addressed so that they don’t lead to drug or alcohol addiction. While this age bracket is often overshadowed by the younger generation, the fact of the matter is that there’s currently a major public health concern for seniors struggling with addiction. Should you or someone you know fall into this category, find a facility that’s familiar with treating the elderly. The older you are, the more you’re at risk for complications from withdrawal side effects, so it’s crucial that you’re receiving the proper treatment.
Boosting Cognitive Ability Is Key
Cognitive ability gradually declines with age, as older adults have difficulty filtering out distracting information, which in turn makes it difficult to process other intel, make decisions, and problem solve. The good news is that all of the ways to boost cognitive function will also improve your physical and mental health as a whole.
Exercise: Studies indicate that when certain hormones are increased with physical activity, memory may be improved. It’s suggested that seniors get 150 minutes of exercise per week, including two days devoted to incorporating strength training to increase mobility and muscle mass. If you’re new to exercise or have a health issue, start slowly and work yourself up to 30-minute sessions.
Prevent Social Isolation: Research suggests that isolation from others can elevate blood pressure, increase the stress hormone cortisol, promote irregular sleeping patterns, increase depression, and affect one’s overall sense of well-being — all of which can reduce cognitive function. To prevent this from happening, build your social network early, and don’t be afraid to keep adding on. Make regular plans with friends, consider getting a part-time job, join a club or organization, volunteer, work out at a gym — anything that gets you out of the house. This is also important from a physical standpoint — if you don’t use it, you lose it, and sitting around all day isn’t going to help.
Eat Brain-Boosting Foods
Eating healthfully will help you maintain your weight, support your strength training routine, and reduce the risk of health complications. Incorporate brain-boosting foods like avocados, beets, blueberries, broccoli, eggs (with the yolk), and bone broth into your diet to feed both your mind and body. **Note these foods are considering brain-boosting due to the nutrients they contain. The research behind how beneficial each of these foods is does vary. Therefore, first and foremost, ensure well-balanced, varied meals.**
Challenge Yourself With A Brain Teaser
Actively engaging in crossword puzzles and games (both physical and video-based) on a regular basis has been reported to help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease, but it can also keep the brain sharp on the daily while providing a sense of accomplishment.
Get Enough Shuteye
Along with regenerating your body, scientists have been touting the fact that the brain requires sleep to retain learning and memory. To make bedtime more appealing, don’t nap too long during the day so you can get a solid seven to nine hours at night. Make sure your mattress properly supports your back and posture, and invest in good quality pillows. Make sure your bedroom is fall-proof in case you have to get up in the middle of the night.
Studies suggest that older Americans are living longer than ever, so it’s important that physical and mental health are addressed so you can live your best life. By incorporating more activities into your daily routine, the golden years can be all the more lustrous. Just make sure you discuss any of your plans with your doctor to ensure you’re not overextending yourself in any capacity.
**Guest Post by Kevin Wells of seniordiabetic.com**
Wishing you a week of health and wellness,
–Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”
**Image from: Pixabay**