Maintaining good health is a priority for everyone, but it’s especially critical for seniors. Older adults are more likely to have chronic health conditions than younger ones. Further, they may be more susceptible to developing other issues. Seniors who embraced healthy habits earlier in life may find it relatively easy to maintain them, but others may need to start developing positive health behaviors. Fortunately, there are numerous ways for seniors to help protect their health.
Prioritizing sleep is important, as sleep quality tends to decrease with age. Having good sleep hygiene can help address this issue. Keeping bedrooms cool, dark and quiet and maintaining a regular nighttime routine also can support healthy sleep — as does avoiding alcohol and screen time before bed.
Good nutrition is critical. Seniors should choose a balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limiting sources of empty calories (e.g., sweets and chips) is a good idea. Drinking plenty of water can reduce the risk of dehydration, which is common among older adults.
Preventive care must be addressed, as well. Seniors should get regular checkups, and have screenings for conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and colon cancer when recommended. Annual influenza vaccinations can reduce the risk of getting the flu, which may be more serious for older adults. Annual vision checks and regular dental checkups should be conducted, too.
Seniors are more likely to take prescription medication than younger adults, so they are at higher risk for drug interactions and should be careful to take medication the way it has been prescribed. There are now apps that can help with medication management. Any new symptoms such as drowsiness, lack of appetite, or muscle aches should be reported to a health care professional immediately.
Mental health is another priority for seniors. Keeping the brain agile and engaged could help prevent a decline in mental ability. Making time for activities such as reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, learning a new language, and engaging in challenging hobbies should be emphasized. Staying physically active helps alleviate anxiety and depression. Exercise can also reduce the risk of developing health problems, as can staying connected with friends and family.
Seniors who have recently been hospitalized may face additional challenges when they return home. The accompanying resource provides helpful strategies for caregivers.
Graphic created by Options Home Health.