Lifestyle Modifications for Healthier Seniors

Exercise and diet, we hear how important it is all the time, but does it really hold its value as we age?  We live in a time where every week there is a new fad diet or exercise program in the works that promises instant results, so you would think staying healthy would be a no brainer. As we age maintaining health and hygiene is still important, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as signing up for a aerial pilates class or switching to a no carb, high protein, no sugar, I only eat green on Wednesday diet. There are simple things you can do to promote health. In order to live an overall happier and healthier life, there are some important, but basic, practices to remember.

Routine dental care

Daily brushing and flossing are essential for good oral health because plaque can build up quickly. If too much plaque builds up, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Make sure to brush twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride, floss at least once a day, use an antiseptic mouthwash and visit your dentist regularly.

Regular Doctor Visits

This includes dental, primary doctor, eye doctor, and foot doctor visits. It is important to keep up with your health and visit the doctor regularly for preventative measures and to improve your health. Ask your doctor about any medications that are necessary for your health, and go over any side effects with your doctor.

Sun & Skin Protection  

The sun produces UV rays that can harm and damage your skin, and cause skin cancer. As we age, our skin loses fat and water content, which makes the skin thinner and allows UV light to penetrate more deeply. Always apply sunscreen and moisturizers to your skin to protect and hydrate. The hours between 10AM and 4PM are usually the most UV-intense, so make sure to cover up and use sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 or greater.

Make sure to check your skin regularly for any new or suspicious growths from head to toe.

Adequate Sleep

Not getting enough sleep has major effects on your body. The metabolic activity of your brain decreases significantly, and your body temperature decreases. Sleep deprivation can cause your immune system functions to decrease, and can lead to an increased heart rate variability, which can lead to serious health conditions and complications. Experts believe 7 and half hours on average is an adequate amount of sleep for seniors, but you may need more. Decide how much sleep you need based on how much helps you function best throughout the day.

At times it seems like as we age we have so many things to remember and accomplish, so many things we want to enjoy for as long as we can, and these big important things can get in the way of us remembering the little things. But what you have to remember is that these little things can prevent you from dealing with big problems later. These little things keep you healthier longer and allow you to enjoy the important things as long as possible. Focus on yourself, remember the little things, and put your health first so you can keep your mind and body in top shape.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important things that we need to survive and function on a daily basis. There are often times when we are busy, or something important comes up, and staying up all night to complete a task does not seem like a big deal. In reality, that lack of sleep hurt our brain’s ability to function and productivity. Sleep is needed for our brain and body to function correctly, and going for a long period without it can kill us. There are many negative effects on our psyche, body, and health if you do not get the adequate amount of sleep your body needs.

No sleep reduces brain function.
Not getting enough sleep reduces your brain’s ability to properly function and attain information you learn.

Effects of Lack of Sleep

Depression-Studies have linked lack of sleep to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior. Kids and teenagers who do not get enough sleep may not get along with others, have mood swings, lack motivation, and have issues paying attention in school resulting in lower grades and stress.

Less Productive– Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep improves learning because our brains are creating pathways to help you learn and remember information. Lack of sleep on the other hand makes it hard for our brains to remember and you may find yourself having trouble making decisions and problem solving.

Weight Gain– Lack of sleep increases our chances of gaining weight and obesity. I know what you’re thinking- how?? The simple reasoning is that the longer you are awake, the more hungry you will be because your body needs energy to keep it going. The longer you stay up, the more energy it will need which will come from, you guessed it, food! Studies have also shown that people who sleep the amount of hours needed will snack less throughout the day.

Higher Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke– The University of Warwick conducted a study that found that getting less than 6 hours of sleep on a continuous basis makes you 48% more likely to die of heart disease, and 15% more likely to have a stroke.  

Higher Risk of Diabetes- Sleep deficiency results in a higher blood sugar level. This is because sleep affects how our bodies reacts to insulin (the hormone that controls your sugar level).

Weakened Immune System- The less you sleep, the harder it is for your body to fight of diseases and viruses, it simply does not have the energy to do so.

Adequate Sleep Needed By Age

  • Adults need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
  • Kids in school need 9 to 12 hours of sleep every night.
  • Preschoolers need between 10 and 13 hours a day, including naps.
  • Toddlers need between 11 and 14 hours a day, including naps.
  • Babies need sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day, including naps.
A sleep schedule will help you fall asleep easier at night.
Getting on a sleep schedule will help you fall asleep easier, beating the clock.

Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night, set a schedule.
  • Try not to eat a big meal close to your bedtime.
  • If you have issues falling asleep, try meditating, or reading a book until you’re sleepy.
  • Try to stay away from coffee or caffeine products during the day.
  • Finish your planning for the next day ahead, do not do it at bedtime or your mind does not stop.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet, turn off the TV, and do not get caught up on your phone.

The negative effects on your body from lack of sleep can affect your quality of life more than you think. Losing 1-2 hours of sleep at night has the same effect of your brain and body’s function as not sleeping at all. It is crucial to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night for a healthier, more productive life. I used to think that getting extra sleep the next night would make up for the lack of sleep from the prior night, but it doesn’t work that way. We can never make up for that sleep that we lost. The Centers for Disease Control, CDC, reported that at least 1 in every 25 adults stated they fell asleep at the wheel at least once a month. It is estimated that about 6000 car accidents that occur due to lack of sleep are fatal. Sleep can literally save your life, so make sure to make time for it.