Healthy, Happy and Independent: Tips and Resources for Seniors
According to the National Institute on Aging, one-third of all American seniors not living in nursing homes or hospitals live on their own. That’s good news, because it means a great many older adults are able to remain independent, which most prefer. But it also places a premium on the need to maintain beneficial self-care habits and to utilize available health resources.
Exercise for seniors
Maintaining muscle strength and flexibility is paramount for seniors, particularly those who live alone. Seniors are especially susceptible to falls, the leading cause of injury among older adults in the United States and Canada. Regular exercise can help older adults avoid falls by improving strength and agility, and it can be achieved without the expense and inconvenience of a gym membership. Simple exercises, such as walking heel to toe in a straight line for 20 steps, and back leg raises (lift your right leg straight back keeping knees straight; hold for a second, then bring your leg back down slowly, repeating 15 times per leg) can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Health care is probably the single most important resource for older adults. Seeing your doctor and dentist on a regular basis will make it easier to identify symptoms and prevent serious problems, so don’t skip those appointments. If you’re looking for extra coverage, signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, such as those offered from Cigna-HealthSpring, may be your best option. These plans can cover dental and vision care, prescription drugs, and even membership to fitness facilities.
Seniors who live in isolation may be tempted to opt for easy food options like fast food, candy and chips, and highly-processed foods. These are, for the most part, non-nutritious and can contribute to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular degeneration. There are plenty of simple, nutritional recipes that are ideal for older adults. Start the day with a bowl of pumpkin oatmeal, a combination of steel-cut oats, canned pumpkin, skim milk, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whip up a roasted tomato and rosemary soup with kale and potatoes – a healthy meal in a bowl – for lunch.
A mixed veggie lentil bake is an easy dinner recipe, a powerhouse of superfood and tasty ingredients, including lentils, spinach, mixed vegetables, parmesan and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. For a tasty and healthy dessert or snack, try a bowl of frozen berries dipped in Greek yogurt. Eating healthy can be simple, fun and delicious featuring dishes made with common, everyday ingredients, many of which you probably already have on hand.
There’s plenty of information online with vital health resource information tailored to the needs of seniors. The National Institutes of Health and Healthfinder.gov provide abundant information designed to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eldercare Locator and the Administration on Aging connects older adults with health services for them and their families. Goodwill NFP is an initiative aimed at helping seniors who live alone maintain self-sufficiency through financial stability and good health practices.
Finding healthcare providers
Medicare and Medicaid are powerful healthcare resources for seniors, but finding providers who accept Medicare/Medicaid can be time consuming, depending on your situation and location. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allow you to search for Medicare-covered providers through its Physician Compare website. Simply enter all or part of a doctor’s last name or group practice. You can also search by medical condition or specialty. You’ll get a list of covered practices and professionals in your area, as well as specialist profiles and directions to their offices.
There’s no trick to leading a healthy lifestyle. With a little knowledge and dedication, you can incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into your daily routine, feel better and stay active. Include a variety of physical activity and foods to avoid getting bored and ensure you’ll stick with those positive self-care practices.
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