There are few things sadder than a once vibrant and energetic older relative rendered uncommunicative and inactive by depression and resignation. A loved one who has always led an active life, worked hard and enjoyed interacting with friends and family may change into someone you do not recognize when their quality of life as an isolated senior overwhelms their true nature and robs them of motivation.
It’s essential that seniors maintain physical and mental health if they’re to enjoy life during their golden years. Otherwise, frailty, decrepitude and, in too many cases, premature death are the likely results of such a decline. Pursue physical activity and mental acuity, and you’ll be rewarded in your body, mind and heart. Here are a few are a few tips to help set you on the path.
Make friends with technology
If technology can provide heart monitors and emergency alert systems, it can provide the means to help you remain active and stay in touch with those closest to you. Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, Twitter, texting and email can keep you in contact with family and friends day and night. These are powerful tools to help you combat loneliness and reach out for help and companionship. Many seniors are mistrustful of and intimidated by technology, yet miss out on the larger picture and fail to appreciate how modern communications technology can help them maintain an acceptable quality of life. The internet is your doorway to physical and intellectual exercises that will keep you engaged and physically active. YouTube videos alone can show you exercises designed to help seniors remain active. Take advantage of them.
Mental and physical health are closely linked. When the mind suffers, when you’re depressed or in a state of emotional anguish, your body suffers as well. An overwhelmed and emotionally overwrought mind is apt to turn away from physical and social engagement, which are important factors for an older adult trying to maintain quality of life. Keep your brain occupied with reading, online games, crossword puzzles, Sudoku and any other brain games that appeal to you.
Leading a solitary life takes a decided mental and emotional toll, no matter what age you are. Seniors need regular interaction to help stay active. Friends and acquaintances also provide an important support network when you’re feeling blue, need help or someone who’s just willing to listen while you vent a little. Socializing keeps you interested and involved in the world around you. Seniors who have a rewarding social life are more likely to avoid the cognitive, physical and emotional problems that other older adults deal with. It alleviates stress, depression and anxiety and increases the likelihood that seniors will get the exercise they need, which is a lot more enjoyable when there’s a friend to break a sweat with. Socialization also tends to boost one’s self-esteem and makes you feel better about your quality of life.
Physical exercise keeps seniors feeling active, alert, enthusiastic and invested in life. It increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain and supports muscle strength and flexibility and keeps joints limber. And even minimal physical activity each day can help prevent memory loss and cognitive decline, two all-too-common aspects of the aging process. Strength and balance exercises prevent falls, another common occurrence among older adults. If you feel stronger, you’re more confident about mobility and less fearful that you might fall. Check out a few YouTube videos to learn about exercises that can help boost strength.
Many exercises for seniors are of the low-impact variety; some can even be done from the comfort of your favorite chair. Try walking around the neighborhood or the mall with friends. Take a senior aerobics class or go for a swim together. Frequent motion will help you feel better and less stiff when you get out of bed in the morning; exercise is excellent for those who suffer from backache and muscle pain.
SilverSneakers is a fitness program for seniors that offers membership to those enrolled in participating Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement insurance plans. To be eligible, you must be 65 or older; living in the United States and enrolled in a Medicare plan, which offers the program. It’s intent is to help seniors achieve and maintain physical fitness and social interaction. Belonging means having access to over 13,000 gyms, wellness centers and YMCAs nationwide where you can participate in yoga, aquatics, outdoor exercise programs, senior sports leagues and more.
Quality of life is directly related to one’s mental and emotional well-being. Older adults who live a sedentary and isolated life are likely to suffer depression, a cause of debilitating psychological and physical conditions. Seek out friends and enjoy staying active together with people you care about and whose company makes you feel good.