From aches and pains to general boredom, life as a senior can be difficult. However, aging does not mean you have to resign yourself to a sedentary life void of excitement. Even as a senior, you can stay physically and mentally active. Here are some tips for you to maximize your quality of life in your golden years.
Why Older Adults Should Take Control of Their Health
Whether you live independently, with family, or in an assisted living facility, there is no reason why you cannot take control of your physical and mental health. While over 80 percent of older adults have at least one health issue, and health problems are frequently accompanied by mental issues like depression and anxiety, the good news is that through a combination of activity, community involvement, and the arts, less than 15 percent of seniors have major depression.
The key to staying healthy in body and in mind is to make the conscious decision to take care of your health. Even the process of making that decision will boost your mental health, because one of the main triggers of negative emotions, like frustration and sadness, is a lack of perceived control. By deciding to take your health into your own hands, you have transferred the sense of control back to yourself. Also, choosing and designing your own health routine makes it more likely that you will follow through with it for the long term.
How to Stay Physically Healthy as a Senior
Exercise will help your physical health, of course, but it also can boost your mental health thanks to the endorphins released after a workout. Exercise helps with balance, which reduce the chances of a fall. Regular workouts also strengthen your muscles and minimize the amount of daily aches you may feel. Finally, exercise can help you experience a higher-quality of sleep, with a higher energy level throughout the day.
However, this doesn’t mean you should jump feet first into a heavy-duty workout. Take into consideration your capabilities (do you have arthritis, difficulty balancing, or trouble walking?) and decide on a workout routine that fits your needs. Start out with some light cardio to get your heart rate up. Keep it interesting by mixing up walking, swimming, and group fitness classes, such as water aerobics or yoga. Many gyms and recreation centers offer workout programs specifically designed for seniors that can accommodate your abilities.
There are other low-impact activities that can help you stay in shape. Though lifting weights may be difficult for you, it can actually benefit your muscles if you stick to using lighter weights. Even gardening can improve your physical fitness while also offering enjoyment. Since golf requires walking and swinging a club, it’s another great way to keep you in shape by increasing endurance. You can optimize the benefits of playing golf with the right clubs; be sure to factor in size, grip, and performance when it’s time to purchase them.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may already be covered for senior-focused health and wellness plans, so you won’t have to pay for a fitness club membership out of pocket. If you don’t have these types of programs in your Medicare plan, it’s worth looking into adding this coverage. Just make sure to check enrollment dates and eligibility requirements for your state.
How to Stay Mentally Healthy as a Senior
The mental health boosts that come from physical exercise can be extremely useful for seniors. The accompanying increase in energy will give you the impulse to get out and do something away from your accustomed habits. One of the most important things seniors need is to feel needed themselves. Many seniors find fulfillment by volunteering with an organization close to their heart, such as an animal shelter. This can help seniors’ need for social belonging as well. You can also become socially connected by joining an interesting group or class. To keep your intelligence alive and moving, try to stimulate your brain each day with puzzles and unusual situations. Even something as simple as a daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle can help keep your problem-solving abilities sharp.
Keep in mind that staying healthy ultimately is a choice, even as a senior. Try out a simple cardio-based workout routine for a month to see how it affects your mental and physical health alike. After you get into the habit, it becomes much easier to make your daily health a priority.