Diet and Wellness Tips for Senior Citizens

(5 Minute Read)

Approximately 80% of seniors have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two, according to the National Council on Aging. Managing these long-term and chronic conditions can be frustrating and time-consuming, but the improved quality of life is well worth the change to diet and exercise.

While the best place to begin moving down a healthy living path is by checking with your doctor, here are a few tips for managing some of the most prominent chronic conditions through diet and exercise.

Heart disease

Those with heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, can experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or pain in the arms and legs. This may make it difficult to exercise, but over time it can decrease blood pressure and improve breathing which can lessen these symptoms.

The best type of exercise for those with heart disease is cardio because it’s going to increase your oxygen intake and your heart rate. Simple ways to do this are walking or going up and down stairs. You should be moving fast enough to raise your heart rate and breathe harder, but still be able to talk while engaging in these activities.

Exercise is important for the heart but make sure you don’t overdo it. A healthy regimen is 30 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week, but you can work up to this if you need to. To prevent injuries, alternate your exercise days with rest days or days doing a very different type of exercise. If you lift weights, focus on resistance training using lighter weights and more repetitions.

For a healthy heart diet:

  • Avoid trans fats and choose healthy fats like those found in avocados, olive oil, tuna, and salmon.
  • Prepare meat healthfully by baking, broiling, and roasting. Trim any outside fat or skin before cooking.
  • Don’t ignore serving sizes. They can help you keep your good habits in check.
  • Use spices and herbs to flavor foods instead of salt which is bad for your blood pressure.

Dementia       

Loved ones of people with a dementia condition can find them slipping away. While dementia doesn’t have a cure, you or your loved one can live a better life with the implementation of simple diet and exercise tips.

People with dementia sometimes forget to eat or think they have already eaten which leads to not meeting their daily nutritional requirements. One way to combat this is by having a simple, but familiar table setting which can act as a prompt to encourage them to eat.

Remembering words for certain foods may become difficult and so communicating preferences might be frustrating. Using picture menu cards can help communicate food choices. These could be taken from their own cookbooks and stored in an album for later use. View other practical diet tips for those with dementia.

Exercise doesn’t always have to look like exercise. Doing simple housework chores like dusting or vacuuming engages muscles and lends itself to routine, which can be helpful for those with dementia. Gardening is another relaxing and stimulating alternative to keep joints moving. Also, don’t forget to exercise the brain along with the body. Some non-strenuous activities that can help boost brain activity include listening to music, reading aloud, and playing musical instruments.

Diabetes

Individuals with diabetes are much more likely to develop other health conditions and complications.  Some of these risks can be mitigated with proper diet and exercise while also helping to manage the disease itself.

It goes without saying that controlling blood sugar should be a primary consideration for those with diabetes. A couple of simple tips for limiting your sugar intake:

  • Eat sweets with a meal, rather than as a separate snack so that your blood sugar won’t rise as quickly.
  • When cooking, you can reduce the amount of sugar by one fourth to one third and add sweetness with mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla extract.
  • Use recipes like these to manage your sugar and carbs.

A common issue of those with diabetes is nerve damage in the feet which causes numbness or painful tingling. Though this can make exercise difficult, there are a lot of exercises that you can do while seated that don’t put pressure on the feet, such as leg extensions and knee tucks. Whether you are doing seated exercises or not, you should check your feet daily for cuts or blisters that you might not be able to feel to ensure you don’t cause any damage.

Cancer

There are more than 100 types of cancer and about 38% of people will be diagnosed at some point in their lifetime. Oftentimes these cancers are treatable and can be managed despite the symptoms of the treatments.

Certain cancer treatments can weaken the immune system so it is important to avoid foods that may contain foodborne illness. If you are eating out, be sure to avoid salad bars, sushi, and undercooked meat since they are more likely to have harmful bacteria. When cooking at home, keep foods at the correct temperatures using a thermometer.

If you are feeling fatigued, try doing only 10 minutes of light exercises to prevent muscle atrophy and reduce treatment side effects. Though those with weak immune systems should avoid public gyms until their white blood cell counts return to safe levels. Since you might be losing fluid due to treatment side effects, be sure to drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration regardless of your level of exercise intensity.

Arthritis

Arthritis could end up costing you independence along with medical expenses and potential lost wages, but you can reduce pain and financial burden by taking control of your health.

Getting the proper nutrients is important for any healthy diet, but can have a great impact on those with Arthritis, specifically omega-3 and vitamin D. Omega-3 helps with inflammation and because a good portion of arthritic pain is caused by inflamed joints, you can adjust your diet to include more foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory such as:

  • Salmon
  • Olive oil
  • Soybeans
  • Cherries
  • Green tea

If you have arthritis, there are ways you can stay active without causing pain or further damaging your joints. The first key is to stretch every day in preparation, then do low-impact physical activities that are gentle and allow you to be active without the added pressure. This would include activities such as swimming, yoga, and tai chi.

Each person and each chronic condition is unique and has a separate set of guidelines that can take time, but investing in your physical health can reduce pain and improve living. The improved state of well-being you receive from regular healthy eating and exercising habits affords benefits like allowing you to engage in your hobbies and stay independent for longer.

The health costs associated with a chronic condition often present a financial burden, but you may have a hidden asset in the form of your life insurance policy. Did you know you can sell all or a portion of a life insurance policy, even term insurance? To see if you qualify to sell parts of your policy that you don’t utilize, reference our qualification calculator.

Leo LaGrotte
Life Settlement Advisors
llagrotte@lsa-llc.com
1-888-849-0887

Download our resource, How to Plan for Healthcare Costs in Retirement, for more information on common age-related health issues, their costs, and how you can pay for the care you need.

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