Healthy habits are important at any age, but they can be especially critical for the wellbeing of seniors. As your loved one grows older, you may find you need to take on more and more responsibility, especially when it comes to your loved one’s medical care. Building good health habits together can help both seniors and caregivers manage health challenges with ease and allow for seniors to enjoy a healthier lifestyle as they age. Here are ten tips to help caregivers and seniors promote wellbeing through all stages of life.
1. Take a Free Physical
The first 12 months of Medicare comes with a number of benefits, including free physical exams for seniors. After the first year has passed, seniors can still schedule free annual wellness visits. Take advantage of these free checkups to discuss your loved one’s health needs and how you can help them age well.
2. Make Prevention a Focus
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so the saying goes. This is especially true when it comes to the health and wellness of seniors. Preventative care visits can help catch potential health issues before they become a bigger problem. Health screenings for cholesterol, cancers, heart problems, and other health conditions are covered by Medicare. Keeping up on immunizations is important, too, since influenza and pneumonia are threats to seniors.
3. Review Medications
Medications can be a careful balancing act for many seniors. When they have an appointment with their care provider, take the time to review their medications carefully with the doctor. Ask about drug interactions, side effects, and new symptoms you’ve observed, and the dosage and correct way to take each medication. This is an important step after your loved one starts a new medication or changes dosages of their current medications.
4. Schedule Dental Appointments More Frequently
Dental health can affect a senior’s life considerably. As we age, visits to the dentist should be scheduled more frequently than once a year. The risk of cavities increases as we age, and oral infections pose a real health risk. Regular checkups can help you to ensure that your loved one will be able to eat and speak more comfortably, too.
5. Get Regular Vision Screenings
Vision changes can be subtle, but can have a big impact for the daily life of your loved one. Schedule yearly vision screenings to be sure that their glasses prescription is correct, and that their eyes are in good health. Proper glasses can help prevent falls and other accidents, which is why the right prescription is important.
6. Don’t Forget Mental Health
Emotional changes, cognitive decline, memory issues, and other mental health issues can affect seniors. Staying engaged is important to keep neural pathways strong, preserve memory, and protect cognitive health. Conversation, crossword puzzles, reading, writing, and learning new skills or hobbies can not only encourage emotional health, but also can stave off cognitive decline. Recreation therapists are experts in encouraging mental exercise and helping seniors protect their cognitive abilities.
7. Encourage Physical Activity
We all slow down as we get older, but that doesn’t mean that your loved one should skip exercise completely. Physical activity can increase energy levels, prevent depression, and help improve memory. Whether taking short walks, taking up a new sport, or engaging in a physician-recommended workout routine, the benefits of physical activity can benefit all seniors. If you’re not sure what activities are safe or appropriate for your loved one, ask their doctor to refer them to a physical therapist, who can design workouts based on their needs and abilities.
8. Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
Eating well can be challenging for many seniors. They may not be able to make their own food, or may rely on pre-prepared foods. Many seniors experience food differently, so they may be drawn to less healthy options because their sense of taste isn’t as sharp as it was. Additionally, texture can play a huge role in the foods seniors choose. As we age, our digestive system slows down, making it even more important to eat a diet that is healthy and high in fiber. Hydration is also important for seniors, so it’s important to drink plenty of water. Your loved one’s doctor may recommend consulting a dietician to learn more about choosing healthy foods that meet your loved one’s nutritional needs and are easy for them to enjoy.
9. Get Plenty of Sleep
While it is true that many people find their sleep patterns changing as they grow older, sleep is critical for healthy brain functioning. Setting a night time routine can train your loved one’s brain to prepare for sleep, and can reduce insomnia and restlessness. Turn down the lights in the evening, and make sure that their room is cool, comfortable, and quiet to encourage a good night’s sleep.
10. Get Out and Socialize
Humans are social creatures, and isolation can lead to serious cognitive consequences. Sitting down to eat with them, connecting with friends and family, and encouraging conversation can have numerous benefits for your loved one’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
At King Street Rehab, we’re familiar with the challenges many caregivers face when trying to provide the best possible care for their aging loved ones. Our Westchester County long-term care center provides care and services to help seniors flourish and continue to live their best lives. Schedule a free tour of our facilities to learn more about our compassionate care and experienced staff.
Contact our long-term care center today by calling (914) 937-5800.