No one said getting older is easy. But while most of us think about the challenges of living on a fixed income or paying for prescriptions, we don’t address the bigger issues — like how we’ll cope with changing bodies or the death of loved ones. Unfortunately, avoiding issues doesn’t make them go away. If you want to enjoy your best health during the senior years, these are five big questions you need to think about.
Muscle mass, bone density, and joint mobility naturally decrease with age. The resulting stiffness and weakness makes everyday tasks more difficult and turns minor falls into major health threats. However, you don’t have to accept frailty as a fact of growing older.
Staying active through middle age and into your senior years preserves your strength and mobility. It’s important not to limit yourself to aerobic exercise. Going for a jog is great for your heart health, but it’s strength-training exercises that offer the most benefit to muscles and bones.
Good nutrition also plays a role in mobility. In addition to promoting a healthy weight, which reduces strain on the skeletal system, a balanced diet provides your body with the protein and micronutrients it needs to maintain strong muscles and bones.
Coping with Loss
Loss becomes a normal part of life as we enter the later years, but that doesn’t make it any easier. On top of the emotional pain of loss, grief poses a real risk to senior health. Seniors stricken by grief are more likely to experience a cardiac event or catch an illness due to the physical effects of grief. Seniors who lose a spouse or another close companion are also at increased risk of loneliness and depression.
All seniors should have a support system to help them through times of grief. Support from friends, family, and even online bereavement groups protects against the stress of grief and helps you process painful emotions in a healthy manner.
Social circles tend to shrink as we get older. From the time we start families until the day we retire, life just seems too busy for an active social life. But if you enter seniorhood with limited social connections, you’ll be in bad shape when your loved ones start to pass away. Social isolation and loneliness are rife with health risks, including depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to make friends. Seniors can meet new people by becoming active in their faith community, picking up a social hobby, volunteering, and a number of other ways. The important thing is to do it now because getting out and meeting new people only gets harder as you get older.
Eating a Healthy Diet
Older adults face many barriers to a healthy diet. As you age, you might struggle to walk around the grocery store, afford healthy food, or find the motivation to cook for one. It’s why seniors suffer from malnutrition at such high rates, but seniors today have more options for healthy eating than ever before.
If shopping and cooking meals is a challenge, get your groceries delivered or subscribe to a meal delivery service. If your budget is the issue, apply for additional government benefits. Philips Lifeline has more suggestions for overcoming barriers to good nutrition.
Navigating Long-Term Care
While low-income seniors can receive subsidized long-term care services, relying on the government to pay for long-term care leaves you with few options for where and how you receive care. You might also be subject to long waiting times before being placed in a long-term care facility.
If you’d rather direct your own care, planning ahead is imperative. Long-term care is costly regardless of whether you receive care at home or in a long-term care facility, but setting aside extra funds for retirement helps you afford the care you’d prefer.
Getting older has no shortage of challenges, but that doesn’t mean the senior years are all doom and gloom! When you’re proactive about protecting your health, you can enjoy a high quality of life throughout your retirement. Start planning how you’ll conquer these five health challenges so you enjoy a brighter future.
Article by: Karen Weeks
Image via Unsplash
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