Finding a way to keep yourself or your loved one healthy is a major concern during the winter years of life. The truth is that the keys to health are in your hands. There are plenty of things you might find that you cannot control. What you may not see is that there are many things that you are in control of even if you are homebound. If you have a caregiver or if you are a caregiver of a senior, work together and be committed to do what you can to be whole and healthy. Below you will find a few common-sense keys to a healthy life.
Lead in your health care
- Take the lead and know what your health concerns are.
- Know what your weaknesses are and what you can do about them.
- Have a list of questions ready for health care providers before you go.
- Have a loved one accompany you to health visits and take notes for you or record the visit so you can listen again later.
- Keep your own medical records in a way that is easy for you to understand. Keep everything in the same place.
- Make informed decisions with your family about medical care. It is easy to ride the medical train from one thing to the next.
ExerciseYou don't need an elaborate plan or training manual to get the exercise that you need. The main point of exercise is moving your body and maintaining strength and heart health. The best exercise prescription for Seniors includes: aerobic exercise, strength training, and balance and flexibility.
It is imperative for you to ask your doctor what the best exercise is for you and your particular needs. If you are currently in physical therapy, your best exercise is to cooperate fully with your physical therapist. Also, you can ask your physical therapist for exercises to do when she/he is not present. Keep exercising your entire life so that you can do what you want to do!
Benefits from exercise found in research:
- Prevents loss of muscle (increasing strength and preventing injury)
- Increases bone mass (preventing breaks)
- Increases cognitive function (less dementia)
- Helps to regulate bowels
- Improves mood
- Can improve different medical conditions (i.e. heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer's)
Maintain a Balanced Low-Fat DietEating well helps you feel better in a whole-health way. It can be tempting to let your diet get easy and greasy. It can be simple to eat healthy meals even if you are eating alone. It can be more difficult if you do not prepare your own meals, but you usually have some choice about what you eat. Eating the food that gives you strength and power in your body will help you stay healthy. Here are a few tips:
- Fresh is best...shopping often can be a pain, but eating fresh meals is best for you.
- Eat all the food groups: fruits and vegetables (vitamins); grains (carbohydrates); low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products (calcium); lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts (protein); limited amounts of fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
- Get your portions right. Don't overeat. Eat when you are hungry.
Get Proper Rest
Staying healthy requires that you get the proper rest that you need. Keep a regular schedule so your body knows when it is time to sleep. Try not to nap often during the day, and limit your caffeine intake in the evening. Get outside for some natural lighting during the day, and try to exercise daily. Create a bedtime routine with winding down activities such as bathing and reading. You will feel stronger during the day if you can sleep well at night.
Keep Medications Well-Controlled
If you are taking medication, make sure that your medication is well controlled. If this is too difficult, get someone to help you! Badly managed medication can interfere with your health and even be life threatening.
- Follow all directions for medications.
- Ask your doctor about the risks and side effects of medications.
- Read up on your meds; know what you're taking and why.
- If you feel you are in danger of abusing a medication, ask for help!
It can seem easier to just stay home or not have visitors, but social interaction is an important element in you or your loved one's health. How much social activity and interaction needed differs with each individual. It is important for you to consider this part of your health and commit to staying at least minimally social.
Your body needs water to function. Drink it! Drink water and count how much you have drunk by ounces--not by thirst.
Maintaining your faith practice can help keep you healthy. Going to religious services provides social interaction, physical activity, and support from others. Religious groups often offer activities and volunteer opportunities for Seniors and at times provide transportation as well.