Healthy Habits and Seniors:
A Win-Win Affair
By Sheila Johnson
For many seniors, taking control of their physical and mental health is a bit more challenging than they expected — and that’s especially true when you are also dealing with painful illnesses or chronic health conditions. A person over 65 who is in fine health can experience a domino effect of serious conditions if they don’t enact some healthy practices right away.
Fortunately, there are many ways to control your health, possibly even reversing some of the symptoms of the damage you’ve accumulated all these years. Here are a few ideas people 65 and over can explore to help stay focused and committed to your health.
Live Independently, but with Access to Assistance and Support
Some seniors worry about the dangers of living alone. Falls, slips, and senior isolation can plummet your health in a matter of weeks. Seniors who want to have control of their choices, while also supported in their daily activities should consider an assisted living facility. They empower seniors to remain self-sufficient by offering help with taking medications, preparing meals, arranging social activities and handling personal needs. In these communities, you’ll likely have a condo or apartment in a large facility with shared common spaces, dining halls, activity rooms and areas for outdoor recreation. There’s a lot of flexibility here for budget, which can be reassuring for seniors living on a fixed income. For example, in New Mexico, you can expect to pay around $38,000 per year, depending on a variety of factors.
Prioritize Your Dental Care and Oral Health
Dental procedures for seniors can be costly, so it’s not unusual for people 65 and over to just let it go. However, dental health is directly related to your overall health. Oral health is linked to heart disease, joint health, and lung conditions, and it can also be an indicator of diabetes. Seniors may think that their dental problems are irreversible, but that is not often the case. When you learn more about how oral health impacts overall health, it is easy to see why visiting the dentist is important at any — and every — age.
Practice Yoga and Meditation Daily
A regular yoga and meditation practice can help keep you young in ways you could never have imagined. Yoga will rejuvenate your body and mind. You can join a fitness class at the gym or take a free first-time student yoga class at a studio near your house. Studies show that the breathing exercises you learn in yoga can help manage stress, while the stretching and flowing movements can help with joint and muscle pain.
Reduce Your Risk for Injury at Home
Every 11 seconds, a senior is rushed to the emergency department for a critical situation related to a slip or fall that occurred in the home. That’s why it’s important that you make your home as safe and secure as possible. Rooms with water have an increased risk of falls over others, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Consider replacing the floors with non-slip flooring or use non-slip mats near slick areas. Also, make your home brighter so you can see potential hazards better. Make sure your light bulbs give you 800 lumens or more and make sure access is close to the entry point, so you don’t have to cross a dark or dim room to get light.
You are not only what you eat, but also what you do. Taking charge of your physical and mental health means pushing beyond your comfort zone and breaking out of your safe — yet tired — outcomes. Healthy habits truly give you the tools to age gracefully and comfortably.