Quality of life — it’s a term that means something different depending on the stage of life you are in. For young adults, it could mean a fulfilling work environment, travel opportunities, or personal growth. Perhaps middle-aged adults see quality of life as it pertains to a healthy family dynamic, a rewarding career, or personal goals. For seniors, quality of life is a term often thrown around, but what does it really mean to them?
According to a Pew Research study, seniors cited finding joy, living without pain, improving long- and short-term memory, and keeping their independence as contributors to a good quality of life. What does this boil down to? A senior’s quality of life is directly related to their physical and mental health. Here’s how you can improve both.
Don’t Skip the Doctor
No one enjoys going to the doctor, and it’s easy to toss aside those appointment reminders and get into a cycle of constantly rescheduling. However, it is crucial that you stay on top of health screenings and checkups so that problems can be detected and treated early. Be sure to get blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings, and stay on top of immunizations and dental, vision, and hearing exams. It’s also crucial that you keep up with oral health because poor oral health can lead to heart and digestive problems. And if you haven’t gotten your teeth checked in a while, use an online locator to find a dentist near you.
Nutrition Is Still Important
As you age, it’s easy to fall into that “treat yourself” mentality, but proper nutrition is still important. Thankfully, changing your eating habits can be made by implementing small changes, such as paying attention to portion sizes; eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and cutting back on your salt intake. Pay attention to the nutrients in the food you eat. Try adding foods that contain calcium and omega-3 fatty acids to protect your bones (and prevent fractures/breaks) and reduce inflammation to help prevent chronic pain and heart disease.
Exercise Your Body and Mind
Keeping your body and mind active is a great way for seniors to reduce pain, improve memory, and enjoy life, thereby tackling three of the factors that seniors say contribute to quality of life. Physical exercise is a little more difficult as you age, but there are plenty of low-impact exercise options. Walking, swimming, and yoga are popular among seniors because they are easy on the joints and can be adapted to your preferred pace.
Cycling is extremely low-impact and can help reduce arthritis pain, improve heart health, and regulate your blood pressure. Plus, with a stationary bike, it’s a quick way to sneak in exercise any time of day. As for exercising your brain, yoga combines both physical and mental exercise via slow movements and focused breathing, but there are other mental activities that require less movement. Puzzles, reading, journaling, socializing, and learning new things are all memory boosters. While most can be done independently, all are great social opportunities too.
Quality of life holds a different meaning as you age. For many seniors, physical and mental health directly impacts quality of life, but both are easy to improve. By staying on top of wellness visits, eating right, and putting your body and brain to work, you are on the right track to a happy, healthy life.