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The NSPA Blog

Boosting Mental and Physical Health For Seniors

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Posted on July 22nd, 2020 by Guest Blogger, under Mental Health, Physical Health, Seniors, Take Charge

Your golden years are when you need to boost your mental and physical health the most. That’s because it’s in these years where health issues tend to get magnified or crop up with more regularity. To wit: 80% of older adults are already afflicted with at least one chronic disease, according to aging-related facts released by the National Council on Aging. Even if you don’t have a chronic disease today, you’re susceptible to getting one later on — often by age 55, when 90% of Americans become at risk of hypertension. Worse, you’re likely to experience some form of mental disorder, as is the case with 1 in 4 older adults, including 7 million older Americans who’ve experienced depression.

CREDIT: Unsplash

That said, it’s entirely possible that your quality of life will decline the older you get — but fortunately, there are steps we can take to avoid it. The most important step to take in this case is to give both your mental and physical health a boost. Below are some ways to do so:

Boosting Your Mental Health

Play Games

Keeping your mind active is one way to strengthen your brain, with NBC’s Kalhan Rosenblatt reporting how cognitive stimulation delays the onset of degenerative neurological diseases (e.g., dementia, Alzheimer’s). You can get such stimulation by playing games, like word puzzles and board games (e.g., Monopoly, Pictionary). Alternatively, you can follow in the footsteps of octogenarian Audrey Buchanan, whose game of choice is the video game Animal Crossing. With their fast pace, varying challenges, and complex controls, video games provide the kind of mental workout older adults like you need to stay sharp — all while having a good time. Regardless of which games you prefer, what’s important is that you keep challenging your mind so that it continues to function optimally.

Make a Difference

There are many benefits to helping out, and better mental health is one of them. Galaxy Digital’s Addison Van Auken writes how seniors who do volunteer work tend to be happier, in part because of the positive impact of helping others and because doing so gives them a sense of purpose. Volunteering can even decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression — three factors that can negatively impact your mental health. You can start by tutoring neighborhood kids for free, running a local food drive, or organizing prayer groups. You can also get in touch with a Habitat for Humanity affiliate, local church groups, or community nonprofits and offer your time and services. In doing so, you’ll not only make a difference in others’ lives but also on your own.

Get Some Help

Life can get lonely when you’re an older adult, and that can adversely affect your mental well-being. So, whenever you’re feeling down, or are concerned about your mental health, don’t try to beat it by yourself. Instead, look to get some help, whether from family, mental health experts, or even our advocates here at NShore. You can also check out organizations online such as the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, which has a database of therapists in various locations all across America. By getting help, you’re making a positive step towards taking care of yourself and overcoming the mental challenges that come with old age.

Boosting Your Physical Health

Stay Active

You may have slowed down, but it isn’t an excuse not to be active. The older you get, in fact, the more you must strive to move about. Consider: A recent Swedish study found that physical activity contributes to longevity as it reduces the impact of illness, improves balance and flexibility (making you less vulnerable to falls), and helps you maintain a healthy weight. That said, you don’t necessarily have to do anything special, as simple things like taking a long walk, doing house chores, and gardening are a form of physical activity already. If you’re up for a challenge, you can join fitness classes for seniors, which you’ll likely find in your local YMCA (check nearby gyms, too). You can even give low-impact sports like tennis, badminton, and swimming a try. In this way, you’ll be adding both years to your life and life to your years.

Get Lots of Good Rest

Your energy levels aren’t what they used to be, which is why rest is more vital for you. The best kind of rest is sleep, with lifestyle writer James Gonzales pointing out how shut-eye is vital to good health. So, you’ll need to avoid doing things that can cut down on your sleep time, like watching TV through the wee hours. You’ll also need to set aside enough time daily for waking up and winding down comfortably to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Additionally, make your bedroom as conducive to sleep as possible by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet (especially since you become more sensitive to noise now that you’re older). In doing so, you’ll replenish used-up energy and help your cells recover. Not to mention, consistent good sleep can lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases, weight problems, and diabetes.

Take Preventive Measures

There’s a saying that prevention is a cure, and that rings true even in old age. Put simply, you’ll need to do things that’ll keep you healthy and away from illness. Unsurprisingly, Healthline’s staying-healthy guide for seniors recommends a few of these preventive measures, including taking supplements to enhance your immune system and taking precautionary steps against infections, like getting flu vaccines regularly. You’ll also have to avoid contact with people sick with infectious diseases, as you’re more likely to contract infections when you’re older. Lastly, schedule annual physicals, too, so your physician can check for the possible onset of sickness and treat it before it gets any worse.

Article made only for the use of northshorern.com

By Aureen Sanders

Teri’s Corner

How to make the most of Telehealth visits. Daily Herald. https://www.dailyherald.com/entlife/20200711/how-to-make-the-most-of-telehealth-visits

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