It is a fact of life that the human body and brain change throughout the lifespan, and the senior years are often a time when the body’s systems can decline. Bones become thinner and more brittle, reflexes slow, memory fades, digestion and circulation are not as efficient as they once were, and more and more wrinkles develop as the skin loses its luster. The changes are inevitable, but their impact and effect on a person’s quality of life do not need to be devastating. You can take control by following some simple steps.
Stay Physically Active
You may have heard the phrase “move it or lose it.” Well for seniors, this should be the motto. The back, hips, knees, and ankles are the joints that propel us through the world each day. The joints navigate all terrain and distance and often need to handle stairs and hills, or grass and uneven pavements. To fully function, they need to move. The key is not to be sedentary. You should change positions every 30 minutes even if only to stand and stretch or take a short walk. Do not discount the benefit of household chores like dusting and running the vacuum.
Even if you stay mobile, you may suffer from spinal issues, arthritis, or osteoporosis. These conditions weaken joints and, in the extreme, can cause falls. Falls and the complications resulting from them are the leading cause of death for those over 65 years of age. However, there are assists that offer support for ailing joints. Braces, canes, walkers, and stairlifts are all designed to help you preserve your mobility when your own joints can no longer go it alone.
Develop a Regular Exercise Regimen
If you have exercised all your life, there is no reason to stop now. However, to protect your joints, you may need to reduce the level of impact of your workouts. Swimming and cycling are excellent ways to improve your cardiovascular system while strengthening muscles and joints. Yoga and tai chi are workouts that will improve your core and overall flexibility, and weight lifting will help you maintain strong bones. A well-designed exercise program that fits your capabilities will help you to be pain-free and reduce the deterioration that is considered to be a part of the normal aging process.
Stay Socially Active
The brain needs exercise too. It makes sense to continue to work for as long as possible to maintain your problem solving and reasoning skills. When you do retire, you might adopt a hobby like model building, word or number puzzles, or reading. You might even volunteer in your community. All of these activities keep you mentally active. You should also stay connected with your family and maintain active relationships with friends. Even if the news is negative, you should remain aware of the world’s events and stay informed about new trends.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Excess weight puts added pressure on joints. This pressure can cause injury and ultimately constant pain. A well-balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and provide your body with the nutrients and vitamins that it needs to function properly. You can get the calcium and vitamin D you need for bone density in dairy products and green vegetables like broccoli and spinach. The protein you need for maintaining muscle mass can be found in lean meats, seafood, soy products, and nuts. Consuming the omega 3 fatty acids of cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel has been found to reduce joint inflammation and vitamin C is known to lessen the incidence of osteoarthritis. Also, you should drink plenty of water since senior citizens become dehydrated quickly.
Have Regular Check-Ups
Finally, be sure to visit your doctor for an annual physical and preventive screenings and all necessary vaccinations. You need to take any necessary medications only as prescribed and keep regular appointments with the dentist and optometrist. When those musculoskeletal changes do occur, do not be surprised if your doctor refers you to an orthopedic surgeon. Even if you have no need for surgery, these specialists are the best choice to treat those degenerative diseases that afflict seniors.