It’s easy to throw caution to the wind in your youth and engage in a lifestyle that doesn’t necessarily support healthy aging. But once we reach our golden years, priorities change and a new outlook on life and health begins to emerge.
If you have aging loved ones, their health and happiness are probably as important to you as it is to them. Thankfully, there are several options that you can introduce them to for encouraging healthy living in retirement.
Your loved one’s health is going to begin with his or her diet. From there, their comprehensive lifestyle is going to determine their overall health. It’s best to begin with the basics and ensure that your aging relative is eating a nutritious diet.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few ideas for health and nutrition that you can share with your aging loved one so that they can begin living a health-supporting lifestyle.
Immune System Support
One thing that you should remember is that your immune system needs to be properly cared for throughout your life. This becomes extremely important once you reach old age, and a balanced diet is vital to a healthy immune system.
While you can get the right amount of nutrients from eating a balanced diet, you may not be able to get sufficient nutrients all of the time. This is why introducing different foods that are rich in immune-boosting vitamins can be a best-practice for ensuring that your loved one makes proper health choices.
Here are a few options to consider for optimal immune support:
- Elderberry supplements
- Citrus fruits
- Green tea
- Vitamin C supplements
In addition to these foods and supplements, Vitamin D is also a big player when it comes to supporting the immune system. Since the body can synthesize Vitamin D through sunlight exposure, encouraging your loved one to spend at least 15 minutes outside each day is great for soaking up the life-giving sun and essential Vitamin D.
Those who have lived a sedentary lifestyle for most of their lives often will develop health issues, such as poor circulation, joint and hip pain, diabetes, and even mental health decline. Unless you want your elderly loved one to end up in a nursing home where they may not be cared for properly, encouraging daily exercise is highly recommended.
Daily exercise allows the body to release a feel-good cocktail of hormones and chemicals such as endorphins, which act as natural stress-relievers for the body. Even 15 to 30 minutes of light-to-moderate exercise each day can work wonders for your aging loved one.
You’ll want to remember that along with aging comes the depletion of muscle mass. Still, engaging in any type of strenuous workout in old age should only be done with a doctor’s recommendation. Light–to-moderate exercise is often the best strategy for staying physically fit.
A few light exercises to encourage your loved one to try are:
- Hiking or walking
- Playing Golf
- Low-impact aerobics
Even if your loved one incorporates exercise only a few days a week, this will be better than sitting on the couch watching TV or any other sedentary activity.
Being Socially Active
As we get older, we tend to withdraw from social functions, which can be problematic because it’s been proven that prolonged social isolation can lead to depression and anxiety. Be proactive about encouraging your loved one to get out and be social whenever possible.
Humans are social creatures by nature. After all, this is how we’ve survived for millennia by forming groups so we can better respond to threats — though going to an art function doesn’t need to involve hiding from a dinosaur in today’s world!
If you can get your loved one out of the house for just a few hours each week, it will be great for their mental health. With many community activities such as art walks, festivals, local attractions, restaurants and the like, you’ll have plenty of choices to offer your loved one for getting out of the house and being social.
Retirement may mean that you can finally relax and not have to worry about working so hard, but you still have to maintain your health. The more you encourage your loved one to take their health seriously, the better off they’ll be as they grow older.