We all want our senior loved ones to be happy and healthy, so that they can age positively as long as possible.
Positive aging, in fact, is the focus of our parent organization Episcopal Retirement Services' upcoming sold-out TriHealth Refresh Your Soul conference, presented by the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati.
At that March 12 gathering, at Xavier University's Cintas Center, caregivers and seniors will learn from leading gerontologists and senior wellness experts about methods they can use right at home to promote positive aging for their older loved ones and for themselves.
We hope to see you there! Today, though, let's preview Refresh Your Soul by sharing with you some cogent health tips that seniors can use to stay well.d
1. Stay active
One significant contributor to the development of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes — especially in seniors — is a lack of regular exercise. Activity helps the body to burn excess fat and releases hormones that help to regulate blood sugar and mood.
The recommended guideline for adults is 75-150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, weekly. This may be hard for many seniors -- especially those with reduced mobility or arthritis pain. But any exercise is good exercise.
Water aerobics, swimming, jogging and power-walking can all be low-impact, high-yield ways to help you boost your metabolism and prevent obesity, high blood pressure and other high-risk factors.
Talk with your family doctor or geriatrician, or consult a physical therapist, to develop an exercise program that will meet your activity needs, without placing undue stress on your body.
2. Take steps to actively manage stress
Many seniors suffer from stress and anxiety, especially if they're facing financial difficulties, the loss of friends or partners or if they're feeling socially isolated.
Stress doesn't just cause negative emotions and depression. Chronic stress can also have a terrible effect on a senior's physical health.
Emotional stress causes your blood glucose level to increase and releases hormones — like cortisol — that cause your body to store increasing amounts of fat. That can increase a senior's risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes.
But stress can be self-managed. Try to incorporate some simple relaxation techniques into your daily routine, like deep breathing, meditation, light yoga, or listening to music. Active relaxation can lower your stress hormone levels and improve your mood for hours at a time.
There's strong evidence, too, that seniors who make it a point to take positive, daily steps to relax may experience cumulative effects — in other words, the more regularly you take time for self-are, the more resilient you become and the less stressed you'll feel in general.
3. Eat less and eat healthier
Obesity is one of the most pressing concerns for American seniors — especially for members of the Baby Boom generation, and particularly here in Kentucky and other states throughout the South and Southeast.
Carrying even a few extra pounds can increase your likelihood of developing diabetes by twentyfold. You need to manage your weight.
The answer? Get plenty of fresh fruits, crunchy veggies and lean proteins (grilled chicken and fish, especially).
Fruits and vegetables are full of water and fiber, so they fill you up faster and longer. Crunchy and leafy vegetables are relatively low in calories, so you can eat more, but take in less.
And if you, like so many of us here in the Bluegrass, love to snack during the game, try hard to ditch the chips and dips. Sub in salads with light dressing, baked sweet potato sticks, carrots with light ranch dressing, apple slices, or berries for your normal couch snacks.
Consult a nutritionist or registered dietician, He or she can help you develop a heart-friendly monthly menu, and even a shopping list of healthy ingredients!
Use these tips to stay healthy and age positively.
When a senior feels good — body, mind and soul — that's positive aging.
Our aging care experts here at Episcopal Church Home encourage all seniors living in Kentucky and Indiana to take a more active role in managing their physical, emotional, spiritual and financial health, so that they can continue living well into the future.