Georgia, in the former Soviet Union, and two remote areas in Pakistan and Peru have all found the key to improving daily life for seniors. All three areas are well-known for their significant numbers of elderly individuals who obtain healthy longevity.
Still, there's no need to pack your bags yet; you can remain in the hometown of your choosing and still live a long, happy, and productive life.
Tips for Improving Daily Life for Seniors
One of the most comprehensive studies about elderly longevity finds that these and other regions noted for citizens with long, healthy lives have common characteristics, such as geography and tradition.
Most of the longest living people reside in regions that are mountainous. Life in the mountains, high above sea level, reduces pollution risks. Attitude also contributes to the difference in these regions. In the three areas mentioned above, elderly individuals are traditionally thought to be wiser with age, are well-respected, and considered important to social order.
Your community may hold different traditions and may lie flat at sea level. But, there are other important strategies to borrow from these regions.
- These strategies include:
- Healthy nutrition
- Family and community interaction
- Daily exercise and relaxation
- Continued employment or volunteerism.
We all can easily apply these tips to our own lives as we age and to the lives of the elderly we care about.
Healthy Nutrition Tips
Some people think that as we get older, our vitamin and mineral needs decrease. The opposite is true.As people age, their capacity to break down food and use nutrients is less efficient. Additionally, our digestive system becomes sluggish and its efficiency is reduced. Other factors that affect aging individuals from getting the proper nutrients include a decreased sense of smell and taste. Dental problems can make eating difficult as well, so seeing a dentist regularly is important.
Senior nutrition can be improved with the following nutrition tactics.
- Studies about the healthiest and longest-living elderly show that these individuals have moderate diets comprised of mainly fresh vegetables and herbs, along with whole grains and small amounts of meats and fats. This is an obvious nutrition ideal for many, but for seniors, changing nutritional needs make it even more important to choose healthy foods.
- Many elderly individuals take medications that can affect nutrient intake. It's a good idea for all seniors to talk with their doctors about diet once a year. A doctor can help seniors to sort out which medications may deplete vitamins or lesson nutrient absorption.
- An often overlooked point when it comes to proper senior nutrition is company while dining. Elderly individuals who always eat alone often eat quickly and more irregularly than seniors who eat with friends and family.
Family and Community Interaction
Improving daily life for seniors can be as easy as inclusion. A common variable among long-living seniors is that all of these seniors live in areas that consider family and community important. Integration of the generations, frequent get-togethers with friends, and inclusion in community events make people feel needed, wanted, and cared for.
Daily Exercise and Relaxation
Seniors can reap many benefits from staying active and by learning relaxation techniques. Regular exercise can be as easy as a daily 10-minute walk. Although increasing the time spent exercising daily will also increase the benefits. Just like any other individual, seniors should always check with their doctors before staring a new exercise routine.
Some of the benefits of regular exercise for seniors include:
- Greater flexibility and endurance.
- Greater lean body mass.
- A better sense of balance, fewer falls, and broken bones.
Physical activity combined with good nutrition can also help to preserve a healthy immune system. Relaxation techniques are useful to people of all ages, but stress and seniors often go hand in hand.
For seniors, the process of learning relaxation techniques can be just as useful as the techniques themselves. Seniors who engage in yoga or tai chi classes get to spend time with others, sharpen their thinking caps, and gain valuable wellness advice all at the same time.
Relaxation can also include time spent taking a midday nap or socializing with friends or family in the evening.
Continued employment for seniors is a tricky issue. On one hand, there is a set standard for retirement age and many companies follow these standards. On the other hand, studies show the longest-living and healthiest elderly work throughout their life. In the rural communities from Georgia, Pakistan, and Peru, seniors will complete farm work, cleaning, and child care into the last years of their life. And while farm work at age 80 may be pushing it for some of us, there are ways that seniors can continue to work well into their golden years. Before quitting a job simply because you're the right age, think about the choices: stay, stay on part-time, or change to a new job. Human resource departments are a great place to start when looking for information about your current job. You can also learn more about late age employment through senior citizen vocational training.
There are also numerous volunteer opportunities, such as mentoring youth or tutoring at an elementary school. Volunteering is a great way for seniors to get out and share their skills while interacting with the community. Some seniors are comfortable with volunteering at hospitals as patient friends. Many hospitals now have individuals, some of them seniors, who can lend an ear to sick patients or tell stories to the children's ward. Ask at your local hospital what volunteer options they offer.
For more information about improving daily life for seniors check out USA.gov's Senior Citizen's Resource pages. They have a virtual smorgasbord of helpful links that can help you and the seniors you love stay healthy, age smarter, and live more productively.