In many ways, the art and science of self-care is about doing a little bit every day. And for seniors, it’s more important than ever to bolster your health by filling your daily life with productive and enjoyable activities. Relatively simple healthy habits go a long way to maintaining a strong level of overall wellness, and having a daily routine is thought to be helpful for seniors’ mental and physical well-being.
If you’re looking for some healthy new habits to pick up that will help you look and feel your best throughout your golden years, here are eight simple daily strategies for improved health and wellness. Each by itself can be a difference-maker for a better life, but when combined into a holistic, healthy lifestyle, they become a powerful force for maintaining good health as you grow older.
Take a healthy blend of preventative supplements.
Taking your prescribed medication every day should be a given, but it’s also important to talk to your doctor or nutritionist about what kind of additional supplements may help you. That’s because, unfortunately, even a healthy diet doesn’t always provide a complete slate of the nutrients that some people need. From a senior multivitamin to fish oil to probiotics to calcium, there are all kinds of supplements that can benefit seniors, and most are available over the counter. Of course, not every supplement is safe for every senior, so make sure that you involving medical professionals at every step of the decision process to get a combination that’s safe and effective.
Get some exercise.
Your body is slowing down some, but that’s no excuse to quit exercising. In fact, it actually makes it more important to stay active late in life. Exercise is associated with numerous senior-specific benefits, including reduced risk of falling, better heart health, and controlling joint pain and swelling. Remember to choose an exercise routine that’s gentle enough for your body, such as water aerobics or senior-friendly fitness classes. Finally, if you’re having trouble sticking with an exercise routine, try recruiting family or friends as exercise partners to help keep you on track.
Engage in social activity.
Not everyone needs to socialize every single day, but it’s definitely important to combat loneliness and isolation by prioritizing regular social interaction. Try joining a local community or civic organization, starting a book club, or something as simple as meeting a friend or family member for lunch. Seniors who live in retirement communities can often find great planned activities organized by their communities, so take advantage of what’s on offer or look into organizing an activity if you don’t see what you’re looking for.
Take care of your skin.
Your skin starts to become thinner and more fragile as you age. Proper skin care is important for maintaining the health of this vital organ, and it’s most effective when done every day. You can often start improving your skin care by making some simple changes to your bathing habits, as well as applying moisturizer daily. Avoid excessive sun exposure, and make sure to use sunscreen when you go outside for an extended period.
Perform a mentally stimulating activity.
Seniors’ brains need cognitive stimulation to keep them sharp and healthy, as low levels of mental activity are considered to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia. People who live in retirement communities can be particularly vulnerable to this, as the daily tasks that once occupied a lot of brainpower are often done for them by other people. Crosswords and Sudoku are great for people who like games, while others might prefer to read a book or write in a journal. The important thing is that you’re getting some kind of activity that keeps your mind active—much like the body, it needs to be exercised to stay in shape.
Eat healthy, balanced meals.
Your body needs great nutrition at all stages of life, so don’t give up on fruits and veggies. Consult a doctor or nutritionist about whether your current diet is meeting your body’s nutritional needs, and remember that older adults often need greater amounts of certain nutrients such as vitamin B12 and calcium. Cooking delicious and healthy can be another fun activity to keep you occupied, so try doing it with a glass of wine and a friend!
Do some meditation and breathing exercises.
Getting older often comes with lots of worries that can cause depression and anxiety. Meditation techniques, such as transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, and guided image meditation, have many suspected benefits for older adults, including reduced stress, improved digestion, and better cognitive function. Meditation classes are available at many senior centers, and once you’ve mastered the techniques, you can often use them at home on your own. Learning some simple lung exercises such as pursed-lip breathing and belly breathing is also a great way to relax and center your mind. Whether it’s meditation or practicing lung exercises, take a little time to learn the simple techniques that can benefit the mind and body.
Treat yourself to something enjoyable.
Finally, what’s life without the joy and the fun? Try to find some time in your day to squeeze in something you really enjoy, whether it’s a movie, a scoop of your favorite ice cream, or playing a musical instrument. Remember that life is meant to be lived and that your senior years can offer some of the best opportunities to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures. Perhaps the best part is how the other tips on this list can make these pleasures more enjoyable. The healthier and happier your body is, the more ability you have to appreciate what’s best in life.
There’s no substitute for a healthy daily routine that addresses the most crucial needs of an aging mind and body. Talk to your doctor about how to incorporate these practices into your daily life, and never be afraid to take a step back and ask whether your routine can be improved for better health.
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