Four Tips to Help Seniors Live Their Best Life (Guest Post by Jason Lewis)

You are never too old to improve the quality of your life, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Change is often uncomfortable, but it can be exactly what we need to thrive. If you are looking to improve yourself, here are some tips to get you going on the right track.

Avoid Dependency

Unfortunately, substance abuse is all too common with seniors, for a variety of reasons. It is often ignored or overlooked. Addiction can come in many forms from alcohol and drug abuse to dependence on medications. Substance abuse at any age is dangerous, but it’s especially so as our bodies get older. Liver function is already diminished, but dependence on substances can injure it further. Abuse also can lead to loss of appetite, which is especially unsafe at this stage as our bodies need better nutrients to keep up our immune system. Addiction can bring anxiety and lead to devastating consequences.

To avoid addiction or dependency, it’s imperative to keep healthy physically and mentally. You may need to make some changes to your lifestyle to feel at your best and maintain health. If you are at risk of dependency, reach out and ask for help. The symptoms are easy to misdiagnose, so to get the support you deserve, be open with a trusted loved one or your doctor.

Changes to Help Physically

Staying physically active is necessary for good health. Being active boosts your immune system, helps your bone density, and improves your balance, which can, in turn, protect you from falls. Limit alcohol and make sure you check in with your doctor regularly. If you are able, start an exercise regimen and work out regularly. Aerobic work can keep your cardiovascular system strong, and it’s a good way to stay healthy overall. Weight-bearing exercise, or strength training, is good for bone health. Don’t overlook flexibility training either. You could start yoga classes specifically designed for seniors. If you’re not part of a gym, try your local community center or the YMCA. They often offer instruction for those with little experience or limited mobility. You don’t even have to leave home to stay fit. Try some at-home exercises using exercise videos, fitness apps, and Wii games.

Changes to Help Mentally

While many suffer from conditions that may affect memory or other aspects of the brain, it is not a necessary part of typical aging. There are steps you can take to keep your mind sharp, and thereby healthier. Engage yourself and your critical thinking as frequently as you can. Take up puzzles, either word or numerical, like Sudoku. Read daily if you prefer that, or even practice a new form of art to keep your brain young. Engaging in things that involve concentration, especially learning something new, can be beneficial. By doing so, you can improve your ability to recall information and to stay focused throughout the day.

Changes to Help Emotionally

We all get lonely sometimes, but lack of mobility or distance of close friends and relatives can make staying connected hard for many seniors. It is especially important for seniors to feel safe and connected to those they love. Stress can lead to emotional upheaval, depression, or anxiety. This can turn into a more serious issue if left unchecked, including running the risk of addiction. If you need a private outlet for your emotions and thoughts, you might start a journal. Writing down how you feel can be a form of catharsis and help you to focus your thoughts and emotions.

Reach out to those who can support you, whether that is friends, family, or even your church. Stay active in the things that bring you joy. If these activities need to be modified, talk to someone about how that can be accomplished.

It may take effort, and it may be uncomfortable at first, but these changes may be just what you need to improve your life. Take the time you need and stick with it. There is help available for each stage to make transitioning to a healthier lifestyle easier. There is no need to go at it alone. — By Jason Lewis (Strongwell.org)

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