Take Back Your Physical & Mental Health: Tips for Seniors

 
seniors, elderly, physical health, mental health, depression, screenings, doctor visits, exercise, strength training, socialization, isolation, Medicare, memory, brain games
 

(The following is a guest blog post composed by Dylan Foster, a writer and contributor to the website Health Well Wise.)

Health is important no matter your age, but your age does play a factor in how you go about maintaining health. For seniors, this means staying on top of important health screenings, making a conscious effort to get daily exercise, exercising the brain, and staying social to avoid feeling lonely, isolated, or depressed. It might sound like a lot to juggle, but getting your physical and mental health on the right track is easier than you might think.

An Apple a Day Won’t Keep the Doctor Away

There isn’t a magical fruit that cures all ailments and illnesses, so no matter how healthy a lifestyle you live, it is imperative that you continue seeing your doctor to get important preventative health screenings. Some of the screenings you need to get annually include blood pressure, diabetes, vision, hearing, depression, and vaccinations, to name a few. Don’t ignore that annual dental check-up reminder either. Not only is it good for your oral health, but it can boost your mental health too, since poor oral hygiene is linked to feelings of depression and stress. More stress means higher cortisol levels, which increases your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Pull out your calendar and schedule your check-ups. While you’re at it, take a look at your healthcare coverage. Now might be the time to look into a Medicare Advantage plan that offers dental, vision, and wellness programs not offered through Original Medicare; learn more about Advantage plans to see how you and your health could benefit.

Get Up & Get Moving

As you age your pace might be a little slower and perhaps you can’t do the exercise activities you once could, but this doesn’t mean you should give it up altogether. Exercise improves your strength, balance, energy levels, and mood, and prevents senior-related diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. For seniors age 65 and older, the recommended exercise amount is 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a week. Your activities should include endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility, so be sure to mix it up. There are some great classes at the gym such as Silver Sneakers, yoga, or water aerobics, but you can improve your physical health at home too with these strength exercises, some of which are seated.

Take Your Brain for a Spin

Just like you need to exercise your body, your brain needs to be put to use too. Brain games and training are activities that challenge you to think hard, strategize, and recall information. By continually stimulating your brain, you can improve memory, concentration, reaction times, and cognitive abilities, all of which boost your mental health and enable you to remain independent. There are plenty of fun brain games out there, so you are sure to find something you’ll enjoy. This list, courtesy of Great Senior Living, has over 80 fun games to choose from with categories such as board games, tile games, and, word games, as well as indoor and outdoor games.

Remember to Stay Social

Socialization might not seem like something you need to work on, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to go without talking to friends or getting out of the house for days, even weeks, at a time. Seniors are at an increased risk of experiencing loneliness and depression due to lack of socialization. Make an effort to socialize with others. Whether it is going out to lunch, hosting a game night, attending an aerobics class, or chatting on the phone, you reap several benefits like improved mental health and physical health, boosted sense of belonging and self-esteem, and a new sense of purpose. You’ll also have someone to turn to when you have a bad day and hold you accountable for taking care of yourself too.

Improving your physical and mental health is more than just a suggestion – it’s a necessity. Age is just a number, but you have to put in effort to age gracefully. Follow the wellness tips above and you’re heading down the right path to keeping your health on track.

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