As people grow older, the importance of nutrition and exercise only gets more important in maintaining their health and fitness. Eating a well-balanced diet and getting daily activity is a great start. But there are specific things home health caregivers can make sure elderly persons are incorporating into their diet and routine to help them stay vital.
Incorporate meals rich in these nutrients:
- Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease, arthritis and some cancers. These are found in different fish oils and flaxseed oils. Older persons should eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids at least twice a week.
- Calcium and Vitamin D become increasingly important as people grow older. These nutrients help preserve bone density. Additionally, calcium helps keep blood pressure at manageable levels. In addition to dairy products, many leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium and essential vitamins.
- Limiting sodium content helps to prevent high blood pressure, so caregivers should prepare meals that are low in sodium. This doesn’t just mean cutting back on table salt: frozen and processed foods are often high in sodium unless the label specifically says otherwise. Fresh fruits and vegetables have the lowest sodium content.
Incorporate the following exercises into a regular program
- Cardio and endurance exercises should be performed for 30 minutes every day to get the heart rate up and increase breathing. Walking, riding a bicycle and swimming are all excellent low-impact cardio exercises. If the older person gets tired quickly, this routine can be broken up into ten minute segments.
- Strength and resistance training helps older persons maintain their bone mass, improves balance, and strengthens muscles – all of which are important in preventing falls and broken bones. Weights, resistance bands, or even walls and furniture can all be used for resistance. 2-3 workouts a week should be performed and all muscle groups should be exercised.
- Stretching is very important to a good exercise program. Stretching before and after exercise helps the muscles warm up and cool down. It also helps improve overall flexibility, reduces muscle soreness and stiffness, and can prevent injuries.
Cancer is the nation’s second leading cause of death and every day it seems we learn about a new risk factor or something to avoid. Well, instead of thinking about the “don’ts”, think about the “dos”. HealthFlex tip of the day: eat more tomatoes! This fruit/vegetable/berry is the ultimate cancer-fighting super food.
They’re a good source of vitamin A, C, and E, which are all enemies of cancer! The tomato’s red hue comes primary from a phytochemical called lycopene. Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, it belongs to a group called the “red family,” and has displayed anti-cancer potential! However you do it, find a way to add tomatoes to your daily diet. Stop by your local framer’s market and get some fresh, organic, juicy tomatoes today!
When the sun hits our skin, changes occur within the cells. These changes contribute to a sped up maturation process of the skin, increasing susceptibility to the most common type of cancer; skin cancer. Be aware that the rays of the sun are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you are out in the sun always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
Check your skin once a month for growth, sores, moles, or birthmarks that correspond to the following characteristics (remember this mnemonic):
- Asymmetry Cancer spots will not look equal on both sides if an imaginary line in drawn down the center of it
- Borders A mole or spot with blurry and/or jagged edges
- Color A mole that has changed colors or consists of more than one hue
- Diameter A spot larger than a pencil eraser should be evaluated
- Elevation Cancer spots are often raised and have uneven surfaces
If you identify with any of the above, please have your skin evaluated by a doctor.
Tai Chi is an exercise of the mind and the body. It involved proper breathing, coordination and balance. The goal is to successfully combine these components through slow intentional movements, breathing, and neurological channels including mindfulness and imagery. Originating in China, the number of older adults participating in Tai Chi continues to increase all over the world.
About 1 in 3 older adults will fall one or more times per year. Tai Chi has proven to be a successful intervention, in preventing, and reducing the risk for falls. According to the Logghe’s Group (Netherlands), fall risks are decreased through Tai Chi by an extraordinary 49%. Tai Chi can be particularly helpful for people with Parkinson’s disease, stroke survivors, and frail elders.
Tai Chi is a weight bearing exercise that increases leg strength. Leg strength increases balance; therefore, the risk of falling decreases. Proprioception is a “sense of how our bodies are positioned”, a perception that can generously develop through practicing Tai Chi. Partakers state that the practice has helped them become more “conscious of their bodies”. Tai Chi also boosts neuromuscular coordination- the connection between nerves and muscles, increasing reflex and reaction time.
One of the greatest predictors of falls, is the FEAR of falling. It’s hard not to be afraid of falling especially when there has been a history of falls. Tai Chi reduces the anxiety associated with this fear, and helps people feel more comfortable and confident with their own bodies.
It’s important for patients to visualize their health in a systematic oriented way—the way Tai Chi is designed. Find a Tai Chi school in your community and help fuel your journey to better health.
The video provided below is a montage of individual stories of how Tai Chi has benefited their lives.