8 Habits of Healthy Seniors

Better diets, better opportunities and better medical care mean Australians are living longer. Average life expectancy is now 82 years, meaning you may spend around two decades in retirement.

You want those years to be good. That’s why there’s so much emphasis on healthy ageing.

So here are 8 habits of healthy seniors.

1.     Maintain an active mind

Read the paper, do the crossword, play chess, complete a jigsaw, enrol in a course. Keeping your mind active as you get older has many benefits including maintaining your cognitive function, mental health and independence.

2.     Maintain an active body

If you’ve always been in the habit of regular exercise, then keep it up. If working life left you with little time to exercise, then this is the ideal time to get into better habits to keep your body strong and flexible.

According to some estimates, almost half the physical decline of old age may be due to lack of exercise. Being inactive reduces your strength, endurance, coordination, balance, flexibility, bone strength, heart health and respiratory function. It also increases your body fat and blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, anxiety and depression.

Thankfully, it’s never too late to get physical. Your body (and your mood) responds to exercise no matter how old you are. So find something enjoyable and get into the habit of regular physical activity.

Many local councils run exercise classes for seniors in parks or rec centres. Go along a few times and see if you like it. A regular morning walk with friends is another great option, combining the benefits of physical activity and social connection.

3.     Attend regular health appointments

Find a good GP and attend for regular check-ups to monitor your heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and moles and discuss the flu vaccine every year.

Women should be screened for breast cancer every 2 years and cervical cancer every 5 years while men and women should be checked for bowel cancer every 2 years.

Get your sight and hearing checked each year and have regular dental check-ups.

A falls assessment is also important. Many falls can be prevented, avoiding significant physical and emotional distress.

4.     Drink enough water

You need to drink even if you’re not thirsty (appetite and thirst can decline with age). If you’re not drinking enough, you’re more likely to develop an infection, fall or be admitted to hospital.

The best way to drink enough is to make it a habit. Drink with each meal, drink when you take tablets, drink when you watch TV.

5.     Enjoy social activities

Loneliness is bad for your physical and mental health. People who suffer from loneliness have a greater risk of heart attack and are more likely to be admitted to hospital.

Staying connected to other people is important for your mental health and can protect against anxiety and depression.

There are many ways to maintain connections or create new ones. You could volunteer somewhere, join an art group or craft club, call your kids and grandkids, invite someone over or catch-up with an old friend for coffee.

Give some thought to how connected you are and how connected you’d like to be. A thriving social life tends to need a bit of planning but it’s worth the effort.

6.     Manage your medicines

As you get older, you’re more likely to be living with multiple medical conditions. Among people over 65, 60% have at least two chronic diseases. Two-thirds of Australians aged over 75 take 5 or more medicines every day.

Those medicines are good things designed to keep you healthy. That said, there are risks to taking multiple medicines. You’re more likely to experience the side effects of each medicine and you’re also at risk of interactions between medicines that don’t go well together.

That’s why a Home Medicines Review can be helpful. Your pharmacist can help you keep track of your medicines, putting systems in place to ensure you take the right drug at the right time. Your pharmacist can also review your medicines and check if you’re on any medicines that don’t work well together.

7.     Make a meaningful contribution to the world

We all need a reason to get up in the morning. What’s yours?

You can continue to make a meaningful contribution to the world in so many ways. You could tutor kids, run playgroups, support young families, run a men’s shed, get involved with Rotary or your local RSL or throw your energies into supporting causes you care about.

Australia’s seniors play a vital role, engaging in economic activities and building social capital through volunteering and supporting families. Your role here is great for our country – and it’s good for your wellbeing too.

8.     Sleep

Many factors can affect your sleep as you age, including the need to go to the toilet more often overnight.

Sleep is vital though. It’s how your brain rests and your body repairs itself. You can promote a good night’s sleep by sticking to a regular bedtime and not napping for too long during the day. If you find it hard to get to sleep, then try eating a little earlier in the evening and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol.

How Focused Health Care can help

Focused Health Care is here to support your independence and enhance your wellbeing by providing care at home and assistance to get out and about. We are owned and operated by Registered Nurses, meaning you can rely on our caring ethos as well as our clinical skills.

If you’d like help to enjoy an active and healthy old age, then please give us a call on 1300 201 351.

Disclaimer

All information is general in nature. Consider your own personal circumstances.

 

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