In general, people these days have a longer life expectancy. Mini Jacob led a research analysis which dealt with the correlation between leading a healthy lifestyle and minimum years of disability. She, along with her fellow-researchers, took into account data that was gradually collected over more than two decades. Mostly the participants were above 65 years of age. They were neither shifted to an institution nor did they take to a wheelchair. In other words, they were independent. The participants of this research belonged to 4 different countries. The study concluded that all those seniors that adopted a healthy lifestyle gained longer lives. At the same time, they also experienced fewer numbers of years where they fell ill as against the unhealthy seniors. Does that seem inspiring for you, and do you feel the urge also to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle? The good news is that you can start just now as it’s never too late to do something good for your health.
1 Getting older – What are the changes that occur in your body?
Lack of regular workout or physical activity teamed up with a poor diet can lead to heart attacks, other heart issues, a shortage of sexual activity, and a poor quality of life even at a younger age. Henceforth, if we have to appreciate the worth of being blessed with a healthy lifestyle, it is vital to acknowledge and be well-versed about the changes that occur in our body as we age. It is when you’ll stay aware of the changes that you won’t be surprised or worried about when they occur. Life changes that occur with old age are both emotional and physical. With the loss of career opportunities, the busy life, loved ones, and independence; emotionally every senior struggle.
On the other hand, physically, the bodies of seniors are no longer as vibrant as what they were when they were younger. In spite of your bodies going through these inevitable changes, you can still have the zeal of leading a good quality fulfilling life. Let’s take a look at how you can take good care of your hay days.
2 Bring about the best changes in your lifestyle today
No matter whether you’re making your New Year resolutions or you’re in the middle of another lazy year where you didn’t take any care of your health, don’t forget that it’s never too late to start acting positively. Resolutions are often unrealistic, and hence they are most often broken. Hence, you have to bring about a few real changes in your life so that they last for the longest time and also bring about a real change to your old age. Studies reveal that making slight changes can matter most in enhancing the quality of life that you lead. Here are a few steps that you may take as an aging senior.
- Get as active as you can
In 2013, the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that seniors who workout regularly are seven times more likely to age gracefully and healthily. Disability due to dementia is one of the most significant challenges of old age, as reported by most disability care providers. Still, thankfully, there are ways in which you can delay the onset of such diseases and avoid fatal falls. Staying active can preserve your cognitive health and social functioning skills for a longer time. Seniors can engage themselves in activities like chair volleyball or chair aerobics to keep their body parts moving. You can stave off the most dreaded diseases that spoil your golden years.
- Eat right as You are What you Eat
No, by eating right, we don’t mean we have to cut off all fat, carbs, sugar, and above all, your taste. It just means that you have start moderation with whatever you eat. Curb down your sugary drinks, stay more hydrated, take a small slice of cake rather than a larger one, or have a small scoop of ice cream instead of the worth of a cone. Planning is the key to proper eating. You can make larger quantities of food that can be refrigerated so that you take lesser time to prepare a meal every day. This will help you with instant food whenever you’re hungry. Go for meal-delivery services if you’re too old to go out for grocery shopping. Drink lots of water and add fruits to your diet.
- Give up smoking
As most people begin to smoke during their teens, it often feels purposeless to quit smoking after they turn 60, but you can’t deny the fact that quitting smoking at any age has its benefits. The US National Cancer Institute found out that the age at which you can quit smoking can affect the number of years you live more. Doctors often recommend seniors to surrender their habit of smoking as smoking cessation is always right, no matter at which stage of life you are in. You can revive your smell and taste sensitivity, and you will know how to appreciate the outdoors and fresh air.
- Stay socially connected
One of the main factors of attaining a healthy lifestyle during your old age is your mental health. Most seniors tend to embrace isolation as they age. They feel that they won’t be able to involve themselves in activities that they previously found enjoyable due to age-restrictions. Regardless of engaging yourself in social, spiritual, or mental activities, seniors need to stay socially connected with their peers. If you’re a senior who lives alone at home, you are at a heightened risk of feeling isolated. However, if you can be a part of the senior communities, you’ll get chances to interact. Encourage yourself to use adaptive technology through which you can stay in touch with your estranged family members, with your son, daughter, and grandchildren. No matter whatever you do, bring about small changes to your lifestyle to make a big difference in the way you spend your golden years.
3 Coping with lifestyle changes – Is it time for a conscious move?
When there is an aging member in a family, there will be a time when you may suddenly notice changes to his cognitive health or physical health, which prompts you to consider moving to a senior living community. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are often the most common reasons behind sharp cognitive decline among the seniors, which finally leads to a shift to either an assisted living community or even worse (for the seniors) to a nursing home. Although there is help for dementia patients at home, yet when things get worse, you have to decide to move to a senior living community.
Seniors usually possess resiliency as they have been subject to several life-changing events and experiences. Nevertheless, relocating to a new place is one of those life changes that evoke stress and anxiety. This is called RSS or relocation stress syndrome, which occurs to an older person even when he voluntarily decides to move. Depression, anger, sleep issues, and disorientation are few symptoms to stay aware of. Go through the following tips to ease off the change in your life and support your dear ones as long as it is time to make a move.
- Involve your loved one in the decision-making process
Don’t forget that your aging parent is a person and not an object. If you’re hoping to decrease the stress of your loved one’s move to a senior living residence, you have to include him in the process of decision-making. Firstly, you have to find out the best place where you can shift your loved one, and this has to be done after taking the input of the person who is preparing himself for the move. If you leave out your aging parent from the conversation, he might gradually lose the sense of control in decision-making. Once you include them in this step, this will make a move easier and way more comfortable.
- Validate his concern about the move
Though you may feel comfortable enough if you could avert this entire conversation yet in the long run, it can make your move less comfortable. You will find it natural to reassure and tell them how positive or useful the move is going to be, as this is what they want to hear from you. Once they’re allowed to express their fear, anger, or confusion, they will feel heard and respected. Don’t lie about where you’re going to take them as this can set a stage for utter confusion and distrust.
- Initial few days demand extra care and attention
Constant observation added emphasis and support can always spell the most significant difference, specifically during the first days post-move. Once you have shifted your loved one to a senior living community, check with staff whether he could regularly stop in to interact with him and talk with him. Try to know whether or not there is a resident ambassador that welcomes residents in such a manner so that they feel at home. If used correctly, this can offer a high chance of striking new relations.
- Be a part of their coping method
You’ll find some elderly adults who can adapt to any changing situation very quickly without throwing too many tantrums. You can also find others who show too many signs of withdrawal and go through emotional outbursts at the thought of relocating. Once you have a clear idea of how your senior response to stress, you can inform the community caregivers to stay a bit more watchful to predict your needs. Guide the caregiver to watch out for potential signs of anxiety and fear so that they can easily understand whenever something goes wrong. If a senior prefers having a clear sense of purpose and one of his best ways of coping is to assist others, the caregiver should also do the same to help the person.
- Include your friends and family
While most respondents in a different manner to this move but they have to be always assured about the fact that they still haven’t lost connections with their greater community, which is their family and friends. Ask the senior living community whether they allow residents to go out for dining or planned outings with their family members. Make sure family members can visit them as frequently as they wish to.
4 Recommended changes to your lifestyle post dementia diagnosis
- Exercise and diet
While it is true that exercise prevents you from developing dementia, it is also true that exercise can help even those who have already been diagnosed with dementia. You can follow the brain-healthy MIND diet, which relies on fruits, grains, veggies, lean protein, olive oil, and fishes. Try at least 30 minutes of a daily walk.
- Sleep is important
When you’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you will find a change in your sleep pattern. If you can monitor the exposure of light to a dementia patient, you can regulate sleep patterns. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to changes in the brain, as is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. If you notice your loved one to snore loudly and gasp for breath in intervals, speak with a sleep specialist.
- Create a safe aura for both patient and caregiver
As long as helping people with dementia is concerned, you have to make their life safe and secured by installing several fall prevention tools, firearms, driving security, and safety from environmental hazards. The caregivers should make their providers aware of any potential threats that have to be immediately addressed. Physicians should take the lead in case driving restriction is needed, as this can become a divisive issue for most families.
So, now that you know everything about how to lead a healthy lifestyle despite being diagnosed with dementia, you needn’t worry about it. No matter what your age is, you always have to take care of your health in order to keep diseases at bay.