Keeping up with the immediate health needs of senior loved ones can become an overwhelming task. Add that to the senior’s need for regular health screenings, check-ups and other routine health maintenance. To help you navigate senior health care needs, A Place for Mom has put together a list of 10 tips for maintaining your senior loved one’s health.
Physicals, medications, dental check-ups; the list of a senior’s health needs goes on. Not to mention, a caregiver’s health may suffer in the midst of putting the senior’s health first. How can you make yourself more aware of a senior’s health requirements, especially a senior with chronic illnesses or other serious health issues?
People who had good health habits when they were younger tend to become healthy seniors. But it is never too late. Good health habits can make a difference even to seniors who are prone to illness or have not made their health a priority in the past.
Consider these 10 tips for keeping up with the health needs of a senior loved one (many of these apply caregivers, too).
1. Take Advantage of Free Physicals
During the first 12 months on Medicare, seniors are offered free physicals. After that first year, they receive free annual wellness visits.
2. Focus on Prevention
Preventative care visits, including health screenings for cholesterol levels, heart problems, colon cancer and more, qualify for Medicare coverage. Seniors also need to get vaccinations that can help prevent pneumonia and influenza.
3. Get the 411 on Medication Management
Review the senior’s medications with their physician on a regular basis. Ask questions about possible drug interactions, and take note of any new symptoms (drowsiness, allergic reactions, loss of appetite and others) the senior shows after starting or changing medications.
4. Visit the Dentist Every Six Months
Our risk for cavities goes up with age. Plus, many mouth infections can be linked to serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So seniors should see the dentist regularly.
5. Screen for Vision Changes
Seniors who wear glasses should have their prescription checked every year for changes, and have their eyes screened for health issues. Having the right pair of glasses can reduce a senior’s chance of falling.
6. Remember Mental Health
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation recommends that seniors do crossword puzzles, read, write, and try new hobbies to stimulate their minds and engage with the world around them. Activities like these can ward off a decline in mental health.
7. Stay Physically Active
Exercise not only increases energy but improves memory and alleviates depression. Short strolls, long walks or an exercise program approved by a physician, can keep seniors healthier longer.
8. Eat Healthy
The digestive system slows down with age, so high-fiber fruits, vegetables and whole grains are as important as ever. Because seniors are prone to dehydration, they should drink plenty of water to stay energized and sharp.
9. Get Some Sleep
Insomnia and frequent waking in the night are common among seniors. Turn the lights down in the evening to spur drowsiness, and make sure the senior’s bedroom is quiet, comfortable and cool.
Time spent with friends, children and grandchildren help seniors feel connected, especially if they have mobility issues. And those visits can make seniors feel more upbeat and laugh, which is the best medicine at any age.
Healthy Seniors Get More Out of Life
With their health under control, seniors can do more and stay active, which is important to their overall well-being. Happy, healthy seniors can still present a lot of care challenges, but they can also contribute more to their health, which can give caregivers a little less to worry about.
10 Healthy Habits for Seniors to Keep