Your Guide to Self-Care for Older Adults
Older adults likely go through life caring for other people around them: their adult children, grandchildren and even sometimes, their grandchildren's kids. They prioritize others' well-being and they often forget about their own. As they age, seniors face close to an endless list of health problems. We are also still in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, wherein older people may feel socially isolated. Limited support and presence from family members, among others, can take a toll on their physical, emotional and mental health.
This is where self care for older adults is crucial. They are facing new challenges that can directly impact their overall health, and the best solution is learning to find ways to look after themselves too. Seeking greater happiness at this age can impact one's outlook and motivation to always believe that there's more life than sitting and staring out the window.
Common health issues among seniors
Aging people are at a greater risk of developing an array of health issues. As our bodies naturally age, our systems change, along with our capacity to physically, mentally and emotionally deal with our day-to-day tasks.
Here are some of the most common health issues among older adults:
High blood pressure
Otherwise known as hypertension, it's one of the most rampant conditions seniors experience at this age. Arteries are much more prone to become stiffer, which causes blood pressure to go up. If it's not managed better through living a healthy lifestyle, it can blindside anyone.
Falls are among the leading causes of injuries among aging adults. That's why it's key to continuously training one's mobility and balance.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults aged 65 and up. Managing one's blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels early is detrimental to a strong, well-functioning heart.
Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are very common among seniors. Proper posture, healthy eating and exercise can help protect one's joints and bones
Vision or hearing loss
Our senses naturally decline as we grow older. Macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma are just a few of the eye diseases that affect millions of older people. Hearing loss affects 43% of individuals over the age of 65.
Geriatric depression is a mental and emotional disorder that directly affects seniors. The feeling of being left behind by family and friends or having little to no means of being able to spend time with their loved ones could lead to negative consequences, which impacts their quality of life. Along with it, their overall wellness.
These and so many other factors can contribute to one's mental health, which can ultimately affect their physical well being. From loss of appetite and weight loss to the likelihood of developing an illness, healthy habits are just as imperative among seniors as among others.
Self care for older adults
Self care is often one thing we tend to overlook. However, taking care of ourselves inside and out means we value our self worth, whether we are still young or growing older.
Practicing self care is life-changing. It addresses mental health concerns, helps us develop a better sense of self awareness and self compassion. This will then lead us to developing a more positive outlook in life.
Without further ado, here are some of the most effective ways to start senior self care.
Eat a well balanced diet
Every older adult has individual health needs. Some may not be able to eat as freely as they used to. Some need to live by stricter diets. Certain health issues can make it hard for many older adults to prepare food.
Self care is first and foremost, what you put in your body, and nothing beats eating nutritious meals as regularly as you can, especially among seniors. A healthy diet provides you with essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs to feel energized and functioning. It also helps you maintain a good heart and sound mind. If you have difficulties shopping for your own food, don't be embarrassed to ask help from family members or your professional caregiver. What's important is the desire to eat a well balanced diet suitable for your age.
Supplement when necessary
Senior adults go through a lot of changes and complications in their health, which can affect their appetite and capabilities to eat. Supplementing is also a means for self care, and can be a good way to bridge nutritional gaps to prevent you from developing illnesses. Moreover, multivitamins will also help you feel more energized and able to tackle tasks and activities as they come.
There are a ton of supplements formulated for older adults out there. What's important is to seek advice from your doctor first and foremost. Moreover, go for ones that are manufactured trustworthily.
Far too many aging adults think that they are too old for exercise. However, it's exactly the opposite. Self care among seniors includes finding that physical activity that won't only drive you to enjoy the outdoors. It will also help manage your heart rate, keep your bones and joints functioning as well as keep your morale up. After all, good physical health is still optimal at this point in your life.
Walking and gardening are two physical activities that don't require a lot of effort and won't cause too much stress on your body. Doing it with someone like a family member or your caregiver also provides you with the social support you sometimes won't realize you need.
Get enough sleep
Seniors have a harder time sleeping. They tend to wake up in the middle of the night, which is not really the restful kind of sleep your body needs at this point. Moreover, waking up in the middle of the night also puts you at risk of injuring yourself.
To improve your sleeping patterns, try to keep a routine and go to bed at a regular time every day. It also helps you to stay active in the day and look forward to different ways for your body and mind to exercise. This way, you can fall asleep easier.
Start something with your peers
Whether it's a book club or a community garden, another one of our self care tips for older adults is to socialize. Starting something with your peers is yet another way to stay healthy not only socially, but also motivates you to keep moving. It also helps you maintain an active mind. Having a community also helps you look forward to your day to day. Furthermore, it alleviates you from anxiety and depression that can affect your psychological health.
This is the kind of support and positive impact that help empower and remind yourself that you are not a burden to anyone, and that you can continue to have the kind of everyday life that enlivens you.
Begin a gratitude journal
You'd be surprised how many self care activities you can engage in, even as an older adult. It's about finding an outlet, and one that can definitely boost your morale is starting a gratitude journal.
Give yourself time each day to record and write down the things and people you are most grateful about. Whether it's receiving phone calls from your loved ones, the kind caregivers you are surrounded with, the first bloom of the flowers you planted weeks ago, the list goes on. Counting the good helps you to steer clear from pessimistic thoughts.
Senior self care also revolves around connection. When you choose to isolate yourself and not experience the company of others, whether it's family members, caregivers, friends, or a therapist, it's much easier to lose motivation. It could also stop you from truly caring about yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Wellness isn't just about exercise, eating right or getting sufficient sleep. You have to create and thrive in an environment that doesn't give you things to stress or worry about. Self care is putting yourself first, which is extra crucial among aging adults.
Don't hesitate to ask for support if you need it. Your community isn't only the ones you immediately surround yourselves with. Talking to a therapist weekly could also help you make better sense of what's happening, as well as help you deal with your concerns, whatever they may be.