Top four health concerns for seniors and how to prevent them

SeniorsExercisingHC1510_X_300_C_YBy Steve Guntli

According to WebMD, the most-visited medical reference site on the Internet, the following afflictions are some of the most common concerns for senior citizens as they grow older. Making an effort to live a healthier lifestyle can lead to a longer, healthier and happier life.

Obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of adults ages 65 and older are either overweight or obese. Some seniors are vulnerable to metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of risk factors like high blood pressure, high blood sugar and belly fat, which can lead to heart disease or diabetes.

What to do: This will come as no surprise, but the best way to combat obesity is with exercise and a healthy diet. The American Geriatric Society recommends at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, such as walking or jogging.

Reduce your calorie intake by eating fewer sugary foods and drinking less alcohol, and increase your uptake of healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, eggs, salmon and peanut butter.

Arthritis

Some seniors find exercise difficult due to joint afflictions, such as arthritis. Nearly half of the world’s elderly population suffers from some form of arthritis, and it can make everyday activities very painful.

What to do: Manage your weight, and don’t overdo it when you’re exercising. A 1990 study by the Framingham Osteoarthritis Society found a weight loss of just 11 pounds could reduce the risk of arthritis in knees by nearly 50 percent. Also, when you notice a pain in your joints while on a walk or a run, don’t ignore it or play through the pain. Listen to your body and take it easy.

Mental health

Many seniors worry about losing their mental faculties as they age, whether to a disease like Alzheimer’s or the memory loss that is common as you grow older. While everyone, regardless of age, is prone to a “senior moment” from time to time, the likelihood of those moments worsening has a direct correlation to stress and anxiety.

What to do: Researchers at the Central New York Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Syracuse say the best way to prevent some of the memory-affecting symptoms of aging is to stop overburdening your brain with multitasking, and find ways to relieve your stress.

Exercise, cognitive puzzles such as crosswords or Sudoku, and (pending your doctor’s permission) the occasional glass of red wine may help keep your memory sharp.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to thinner, weaker bones as you age. This could lead to sudden fractures and can make even minor falls major injury risks. Many may assume that weaker bones is just a part of growing older, but the National Osteoporosis Association says osteoporosis is not a normal side effect of aging.

What to do: If you want to prevent weakening bones as you age, start taking preventative measures now by giving up some bad habits: Kick those cigarettes and sugary sodas to the curb, as they can eat at the calcium in your body. Also, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.

As people age, their bodies become less efficient at processing vitamin D from the sun, so take vitamin supplements and eat plenty of vitamin-rich foods.

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