At any age, we are naturally inclined to want to research healthy living tips to improve our quality of life. However, this research becomes even more important for seniors because staying healthy becomes significantly more complicated. Here at Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa, although we focus on heating health, we know that there are many ways to keep our senior clients happy and healthy.
Here are what we think are the top five healthy living tips for seniors.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the healthy living tips that many resources don’t mention is maintaining a healthy weight. Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy weight can become difficult as we age. Our body’s dietary needs change, and getting exercise can become more complex.
When seniors are less active, they may consume more calories than their bodies can use, causing them to gain weight. This can lead to being overweight, which can increase the risk for several health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, kidney disease, fatty liver disease, some types of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other types of dementia-related conditions.
Not consuming enough calories can also be a problem. Not eating enough calories can lead to weight loss, increasing the risk for weakness, bone loss, and other health conditions. On the other hand, an underweight senior may not be eating enough, indicating a more significant health problem.
Using tools like the Body Mass Index and talking to your doctor may help you to calculate your ideal weight range!
Eat as Healthy as Possible
A senior’s body needs fewer calories as they age but the same amount of nutrients.
That means that in order to meet their nutritional needs, it is essential to pay attention to what they eat. High fiber foods, like whole grains, beans, unsalted nuts and seeds, fruits, and vegetables are always good choices. Seafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggs are also nutrient-rich.
Seniors can make sure they have enough Vitamin D in their diet by drinking fortified low fat or fat-free milk, or milk products like soy milk or almond milk with added Vitamin D and calcium to keep bones strong. It is also key to make sure you drink enough fluids to stay hydrated as well!
When possible, seniors should avoid fried foods and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods. Foods made with solid fats like butter, margarine, and shortening and foods high in added fat or salt should also be avoided as much as possible.
Another healthy living tip for seniors is related to restaurants. Many people actually eat more than they need to because many portion sizes in restaurants are so large. There are a few ways to help portion your meals better. For example, eating half of a restaurant portion and then taking the rest home for later means two meals in one!
Meal planning when cooking may also be helpful for portion size because you can make healthy food for the week and freeze it. Then each day, you will have a portion ready to go and won’t be tempted to eat junk food or eat out. And while skipping meals may seem like a way to eat less, it is not advisable. Skipping one meal will just make you more hungry for your next meal, and you will end up eating more. Eating on a consistent schedule and when you are hungry is important to healthy eating.
Get Aerobic Activity
Getting regular exercise can help improve strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance, as well as help seniors to maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic health problems.
It can also help seniors in their everyday lives as regular exercise will make day-to-day movements easier. But for some people, sustained movement and high-impact activity can be difficult or even impossible. Luckily even a little bit of low-impact exercise is good for you!
Things like walking the dog, yard work, dancing, and playing with grandkids get you moving. Even little movements help. If you cannot move easily because you have a walker or cane, just raising your arms or legs a few times a day can help keep you moving. Doing an aerobic activity with a friend is good motivation and can make the activity more fun.
All seniors should always consult their doctor about any medical condition that might make physical activity dangerous.
Supplement When Necessary
When you maintain a balanced diet, supplements may not be necessary. But as you age, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients. Some foods may also be challenging to chew or digest, and so you may become deficient in some nutrients. There are a few essential nutrients that your doctor may recommend.
- Vitamin B12
- Folate/Folic acid
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 Fats
Always consult your doctor before starting any new supplements!
Rest is Important
Rest is vital in maintaining good health. Getting the right amount of sleep every day can boost your immune system, help prevent weight gain, strengthen your heart, and improve your memory. A good night’s sleep also helps boost your mood and your productivity.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule will help you fall asleep faster at night and make getting up in the morning easier. Other essential habits to sleep better include avoiding naps during the day and avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Turning down the lights in the afternoon might help you wind down at the end of the day, and making sure your bedroom and bed are comfortable will make going to bed easier.
Help From Meals on Wheels
We hope that these healthy living tips for seniors have been helpful!
Since healthy eating is one of the most important tips we have to offer, we know that many seniors have a difficult time preparing or procuring healthy foods. That’s where Meals on Wheels of Contra Consta and our partners can help.