The Baby Boom generation has produced more seniors than any generation in history – 54 million already in the U.S. alone. Every day, another 10,000 Americans turn senior and face the new health and wellness challenges that go hand in hand with aging. Senior health is a specialty for Naples Vitality, in Naples, FL. With our expert care and with guidance that builds healthy habits, our patients don’t just age well, they age with vitality.
Not only are there more seniors today than ever, but they are also living longer lives than any generation before them. People who are 85 years and older are actually the fastest-growing age group in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people 90 years and older has tripled over the last three decades.
Staying fit and healthy – physically and mentally — at these ages can be challenging. Our bodies begin to wear, and many seniors live with chronic conditions that must be managed, such as diabetes and COPD. By the time we’re 65, our immune systems don’t function as well as they once did; they need help. However, modern medicine and wellness routines are now able to make elder years into the truly golden years that every senior looks forward to.
The Most Important Healthy Habits
Healthy habits are more than simply the avoidance of harmful substances and behaviors, such as smoking and neglecting to exercise. More importantly, the development of these habits assists the body’s natural ability to regulate itself. In many cases, these are simple changes that make an outsized difference in wellness that you can feel almost immediately.
Stay Active & Mobile
Staying physically active helps both body and mind and actually fends off one of the biggest potential dangers for seniors – a fall. One out of every three people age 65+ fall every year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in seniors. Keeping your ability to remain healthy, safe, and independent means keeping up with your walking, even if you require a mobility aid.
Mobility challenges are the most commonly reported disability in the U.S. and many seniors have trouble walking enough each day. If your ability to walk is compromised by dizziness, pain, weakness, or imbalance, it’s time to get a medical assessment. Simple exercises can improve strength and balance and reduce the risk of a fall.
Keep Hormones In Check
Our bodies contain a network of sophisticated, interlocking systems that process nutrients, eliminate waste, and fight off disease. Hormones, which are produced by our endocrine glands, are chemical agents that work as messengers, informing and assisting these systems throughout the body. Hormones are responsible for coordinating activity so that the body’s internal functions operate in balance.
As we age, our hormone levels begin to drop. This can result in many unfortunate health effects, such as sleeplessness, anxiety, loss of appetite, or unusual changes in weight. Checking hormonal balance makes good medical sense for seniors. While clinical therapies for hormone imbalances are available, in many cases they aren’t needed. Proper guidance in diet, nutritional supplements, and even essential oils can help restore healthy hormone balance.
Manage Your Diet
“You are what you eat” is one of the oldest lines in the book. While there’s a lot of truth to this cliché, when you eat can be as important as what you eat. Digestion is a powerful process that takes up a surprising amount of the body’s energy, which is why we often feel tired after a meal. Some foods are quick and easy to digest, while others take hours.
Many seniors don’t think much about their diet, which is a mistake that can have serious consequences. There are many beneficial diets to choose from, such as keto, paleo, Mediterranean, and plant-based, among others. Good nutritional guidance optimizes senior health and one of the most important healthy habits.
Maintain Social Connections
The overwhelming majority of seniors — more than 75%, according to AARP — say they want to stay in their own homes as they “age in place.” The pandemic has only increased this hugely important decision At its peak in the spring of 2020, more than 40% of the deaths reported due to COVID-19 had occurred in nursing homes.
Along with the independence of aging in place comes an increased risk of isolation, which can lead to loneliness. This condition is extremely toxic: researchers believe that loneliness in seniors has an equivalent effect on the body of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is important to stay socially engaged, even if it’s on the phone or through today’s popular video chats.
Assist Your Safety
As we age, it’s natural to experience some loss of both physical and cognitive ability. Our vision becomes impaired, or our hearing, or both. Our depth perception diminishes and our walk pattern slows. Our reaction time isn’t what it used to be. Activities that we used to be able to multitask with ease, such as cooking and grooming, require more focused attention.
It’s vitally important to senior health to maintain a safe environment at home. Again, falls are the #1 injury for seniors, and most falls happen late at night or early in the morning, often on the way to or from the bathroom. Minor modifications to the home, such as handrails on the wall and grab bars in the bathroom go a long way toward keeping safe. Adequate lighting and non-slip floor mats can help avoid these often-deadly accidents.
Get Enough Sleep
Changes in our sleeping patterns are a natural effect of aging. Many seniors need less sleep, while others wake up in the morning earlier than has been their lifelong habit. Changes aside, healthy sleep is absolutely essential to both physical and mental health. Sleep lets your body repair itself and replenish the immune system. Poor or insufficient sleep creates a host of health problems, including a higher risk of disease.
Healthy habits for sleep are an important goal for seniors. For some, the solution is the introduction of naps into the daily schedule. For others, it’s a change in schedule; going to sleep at regular times instead of “when you feel sleepy.” Diet also plays a major role in sleep. The effects of caffeine or sugar are well known. But did you know that alcohol before bed can actually disrupt sleep? Expert nutritional guidance can dramatically improve healthy sleep.
By the time they reach age 65, many Americans are coping with the effects of a chronic disease. The National Council on Aging reports that 80% of older adults live with at least one of them, and 68% live with at least two. Generally, these diseases are managed with medications, which can be a double-edged sword.
When seniors take multiple medications each day, two risks occur. The first is non-compliance; forgetting to take meds or taking them incorrectly. The second and more subtle risk occurs when different medications interact with each other in negative ways. This condition is called “polypharmacy” and can lead to risk conditions such as dizziness, imbalance, and confusion. A holistic approach to senior wellness seeks to minimize new medications, favoring natural supplements instead that assist the body’s immune functions.
About 60% of an adult body is made up of water, but by the time we reach senior age, that percentage begins to drop. People who are 80 years or older may have lost as much as 20% of their body’s water. Water is essential for almost every bodily function. It keeps our joints lubricated, our skin supple and our elimination regular.
How much water should a senior be drinking each day? The recommended amount is about 7 cups of water per day. Another formula used by clinicians is one cup of water daily for every 20 pounds of body weight. Poor hydration leads to a host of health problems, including urinary tract infections and kidney stones. While it’s important to drink enough, remember that drinking right before bedtime may well mean an interruption of sleep for a bathroom visit later.
Do Cognitive Calisthenics
One of the most important healthy habits to maintain is keeping the mind active. Watching television all day doesn’t engage the brain; it’s a passive activity that can lead to sedentary behavior and cognitive decline. Without any workout, our memory starts to fade, which can begin a cascade of other health problems.
Besides social connectivity with other people, it’s important to keep your brain active. Word or number games, such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku, are popular choices and can be played even when alone. Reading and music are also healthy for the brain. An internet connection and a computer put the senior in touch with virtually any type of single or multi-player game, as well as mental calisthenics apps for “brain health” that stimulate the mind and keep it sharp.
Health and wellness are more than just the management of disease. Our body is already designed to keep itself healthy, but its effectiveness in keeping up with that workload diminishes with age. In particular, its ability to flush out toxins needs assistance through other means. Proper diet and hydration obviously help, but now it’s possible to go further.
A detoxification program that helps cleanse the body often the answer to a myriad of health issues. When most people think of “detox” they think in terms of alcohol or drug rehabilitation, or invasive colonic treatments. However, a detox program for seniors can be a simple matter of dietary adjustment, correcting imbalances in the digestive system (called “gut dysbiosis”) and managing stress. Our individualized programs for detox in seniors can improve both body and spirit.
There’s a big difference between aging and aging well. The word for this distinction is vitality: a quality that spans both body and spirit. Growing older doesn’t mean you have to learn live with pain, or be content with a diminished lifestyle, or be unhappy about how you look or feel. Our medical system is not designed to produce vitality; it’s designed to treat diseases, usually through medications. Most seniors would prefer to avoid more medications and our practitioners agree.
Vitality is a sense of physical and mental well-being that is brought about by a combination of the healthy habits described above and the expert guidance to direct them. The right recommendations for individual lifestyle modifications can keep seniors healthy and happy without additional medications.
How Can I Get Started?
Every journey begins with a step. If you or a senior that you love has been suffering from physical or mental ailments, a lack of energy, or negative changes in attitude or sociability, it’s time to get help. Our expert team is led by renowned health recovery expert and best-selling Amazon author, Dr. Linell King. Our practice combines science, behavioral health, and spirituality to bring about renewed wellness and vitality for seniors. Schedule an appointment with Naples Vitality, in Naples, FL today!