This article was written exclusively for our SCT readers and family, by our good friend, Hazel Bridges, of AgingWellness.org
Physical health becomes more important as we age. Chances are getting older has come with some challenges to your mind and body. That’s why in order to thrive as we age we need to focus on physical and mental health. Taking charge of your physical well-being is a major confidence booster, but it also takes your mind off some of the negative thoughts that can creep in during our golden years.
Sometimes we feel resigned to just accept things as they are — unchangeable or inevitable. In some cases acceptance can be a powerful tool, but for others it can limit our ability to take control of our physical and mental well-being. Are you feeling stuck or know a senior who seems lethargic or depressed? Here are a few tips to help them rise to the moment.
Getting Good Sleep
A good night’s sleep is critical for physical and mental well-being. For seniors, poor sleep can have serious health consequences relating to dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity and weakened immune system. Sleep also plays a crucial role in mental health, particularly for seniors. Trouble sleeping can be connected to mood imbalances, difficulty with decision-making, depression and anxiety. Sleep issues can worsen chronic mental health conditions, making a situation that was once manageable feel overwhelming.
Getting a good night’s rest could be as simple as getting a good mattress. The best mattresses for seniors have sufficient support to maintain neutral spine alignment, enough contouring to relieve pressure points (heels, hips, shoulders), and some means for regulating body temperature. It is recommended that mattresses should be replaced every seven to 10 years. If you are waking up with aches and pains after a night’s rest, it might be time to replace your mattress.
Social isolation is a major concern for many seniors, from those who live alone to those that spend a large chunk of time as a caregiver for a spouse or partner. It’s no surprise that social isolation can lead to depression, but did you know that it can also double your mortality rate? Seniors who are isolated are at a higher risk for premature death than obesity, and at rates comparable to smoking, according to some studies. Some ways seniors can stay social include:
- Taking a class at a senior center or community college, such as a computer or painting class.
- Participating in group fitness classes for seniors such as Silver Sneakers.
- Adopting a dog or cat for companionship and a deeper sense of purpose.
- Volunteering for a local charity or cause.
- Securing easy access to transportation.
Staying social is one effective way of impacting both mind and body. Making social activities and outings a habit can help motivate you to get out there.
Easing Money Woes
Money can take a taxing role on a senior’s mind and body. Money troubles can lead to high stress, which can lead to high blood pressure, digestive issues, migraines, hypertension and obesity. Seniors can ease the burden of financial planning by:
- Creating a budget that factors in both needs and wants.
- Downsizing to a smaller home.
- Understanding health insurance policies and choosing one with reasonable premiums and full coverage.
- Paying for and planning final arrangements in advance.
Financial stress is the last thing a senior wants to deal with while enjoying retirement. It’s not uncommon to feel engulfed by money and debt that stress leads to depression, anxiety, addiction or suicidal thoughts. Being proactive about money can help you tackle these challenges head on.
Taking control of your physical and mental health may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. If you commit to healthy sleep, keeping in touch with friends and family and facing financial concerns head-on, you’ll likely notice an improvement in your overall well-being.