Taking care of one’s health during the golden years may seem like a daunting task. After all, the vigour that used to run freely during our halcyon days of youth is now a precious commodity and for those who are just starting out, there’s always that measure of uncertainty regarding whether or not the actions we take will even make a difference. But an older body is just as capable of achieving good health as a young one, and it doesn’t have to require a medical encyclopaedia either!
The “standard” rules still apply for seniors when it comes to good health – eat well, sleep well and stay active. However, you can’t expect to adopt the same approach as someone on their mid-20s. While the human body does champion physiological adaptability, its capacity to do so does diminish over time. As such, minor tweaks will need to be made in order to keep the body functioning in its optimal state.
- Supplement what you’re deficient in
While the imagery of an elderly person toting around an ammo box full of prescription pills is commonly frowned upon, there is nothing wrong with having a sound supplementation protocol in place for certain nutrient deficiencies. The body’s ability to break down food for absorption does decline with age, so it can help to provide key nutrients in easily absorbed forms.
- Modulate training intensity
Bone mineral density and lean body mass are some of the first things to decline with age, so engaging in resistance training can help when it comes to retaining strength and vitality. However, this must be done intelligently. Aside from the risk of injury, there is also the matter of recovery to consider. Even if you used to lift heavy on a weekly basis in your younger days, you will not be able to maintain that level of intensity when you get older. Instead of cutting it out completely, periodise your training so that you go heavy once every 4 – 6 weeks instead. Use what’s left to focus on accumulating quality training volume in order to improve ligament and tendon strength.
- Get plenty of sun
Getting your fair dose of sunlight is more than just about getting a good bronze going. Vitamin D is a huge component of bone health, working in tandem with calcium and magnesium to ensure that bones remain sturdy and strong. Due to incidences of falling increasing amongst seniors, it is very important for their bones to be able to withstand the impact of such accidents. Vitamin D can also be obtained through dietary means such as salmon and beef liver.
- Regular de-stress sessions
Senior years are often thought to be filled with quiet and stress-free days, but the truth can be quite different from what we’d expect. Making use of every ample opportunity to relax and unwind, be it meditation, yoga, playing a board game, taking a walk or having a chat with some friends can mitigate the risk of stress-related inflammatory conditions.
- Optimise sleep protocols
Older persons often report having trouble falling asleep. This, combined with how seniors are typically considered to be light sleepers, makes achieving a deep and uninterrupted sleep an important matter. Some ways to decrease sleep latency and instances of fragmentation include eliminating screen time an hour prior to sleep, using blackout curtains, taking a bath to cool down and relax before bed, and having a small glass of milk.
While useful for maintaining good health, these measures are also imperative when it comes to rehabilitation. Seniors who suffer from minor physical impairments and illnesses can benefit from taking such steps either at home or at rehabilitative centres like the Metta Day Rehabilitation Centre. Such institutions also run social programmes such as arts & crafts sessions and outings that are designed to impart new skills and experiences while keeping seniors physically and mentally active in a social setting. The recent Blacklight Run is one such example, where elderly beneficiaries of Metta got together and hand-painted 100 medals, which were then awarded to participants who donated $30 or more. Attaining newfound health can be quite the boon, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with giving such a gift to yourself!