Healthy aging and wellness is made up essentially of four topics. These include:
BALANCE – which refers to finding the balance between physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of one’s life.
SOCIAL CONNECTION – maintaining a sense of connection with family and community; which is extremely important for maintaining vibrant health.
CHOICE – allowing one to keep control over one’s options and circumstances. This has been shown to be crucial for healthy aging and wellness.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT – partaking in social interaction and involvment in activities, as part of one’s contribution to the community. This allows for recognition, achievements and respect, which all play an integral part in healthy living.
We sometimes take balance for granted. When a child falls they shake it off and move on, but when a senior falls, there’s often consequences. Each year 5% of Canadians die before leaving the hospital from broken hips. By improving your balance you reduce the risk of fall-related injuries.
Balance exercises can be a fun and easy part of everyday life. Below are a couple of examples of balance exercises:
1. Stand next to a counter. Don’t hold unless necessary
2. Alternate lifting one knee at a time as high as possible
3. Do this for 1-2 minutes
1. Sit in a chair that doesn’t have arms
2. Cross your arms over your shoulders, left had on right shoulder and right hand on left shoulder
3. Looking forward, stand up and sit down (try not to lean forward as you stand u
It’s important for people of all ages to stay socially active. Some of the benefits include:
Minimizing the Risk of Disease – when you become socially active you decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers
Lowering Symptoms of Depression – people who build new and maintain old relationships are often at less risk for depression
Strengthening the Immune System – socially active seniors have stronger immune systems, a study showed lonely people were prone to more illnesses
Extending Life Expectancy – It is a proven fact that seniors who remain socially active live longer than those that are isolated
Improving Cardiovascular Health – seniors that are isolated reported to have higher blood pressure, therefore lack of social connections may lead to higher risk of cardiovascular disease
This is one of the most important things involved in one’s level of health & wellness. Being active, eating healthy and remaining social help senior’s live longer lives. Continuing to be mentally active helps seniors enjoy life. Volunteering and staying active are also important.
Most seniors say community is a strong contributor to good health. The types of services and programs vary for each individual and their personal interests. Walking trails, indoor tracks, swimming pools, water aerobics, yoga, and t’ai chi are some programs available to seniors to help them maintain social networks & stay active. The Key benefits to community involvement are:
Enhanced Mental Health – Being with other people doing something fun helps keep a positive outlook on one’s life and mental health. Social isolation is the main cause for depression in seniors.
Sense of Belonging – For those that may have lost a friend or spouse, the need to belong may be stronger. Keeping company with those who have similar interests can help one to feel like they belong.
Better Self-Esteem – Any type of positive interaction with friends, family and neighbours help us feel confident. The more they socialize, the more they feel like they are contributing to the community.
Improved Physical Health – Doing things they love with others, their body releases chemicals that boost the immune system and make them feel healthy. Socializing also promotes healthy eating, those that are isolated are more likely to skip meals.
Increased Cognitive Functioning – Socializing is the key to keeping the brain sharp. Encourage learning, conversation and activities as they are great for exercising the mind.
Accountability – No matter the age, we are likely to keep oneself well, if people are holding you accountable. One is less likely to develop bad habits if they have people around them. If they have plans to go to lunch with friends or family they are likely to be groomed and ready to go.
Purposeful Living – Staying social helps one feel their life has purpose. Having something to do and somewhere to go makes one have a stronger will to want to get out of bed. Spending time with those we love and spending quality time building strong relationships helps gain a sense of fulfillment.