Aging Gracefully – With Exercise

There are many reasons that senior citizens should exercise on a regular basis, but the main one is that it helps to increase your overall health and ward off life-threatening diseases – especially those associated with aging. Simply put – exercising helps us age more gracefully.

Almost everyone knows the sort of problems we face when aging – slower metabolism, bone loss and stiffness in joints, muscle loss, balance problems, less endurance and heart and lung problems. We all want a quick fix to aging, such as injections and facelifts or a pill we can take to halt or reduce the aging process. But, in reality, regular exercise is the only thing we can do for ourselves that will increase our overall health and well-being.

Exercise can help us maintain the ability to do things we love and to accomplish everyday tasks that we need to do rather than depending on someone else. Even if you’re a very out of shape senior citizen, there are simple exercises you can do that will make you feel better and enjoy your life.

Stretching is simple to do (you can even stretch while sitting) and can make remarkable strides in improving your joints and muscles. You can find online stretching exercises, choose from the many television shows that promote exercising or get a book from the library or bookstore. You’ll want to be sure to choose exercises that stretch your back, arms, calves, thighs, stomach and chest – but don’t overdo it. Stretch for 5 to 20 minutes per day or whatever you feel up to.

Any activity that increases your endurance is great for senior citizens. Those exercises might include gardening, biking, swimming or simply walking the dog. Try to increase your breathing and heart rate, but don’t exercise so strenuously that you lose your ability to talk. Take it easy and you’ll benefit more than you realize.

Strength exercises are very important to engage in as you age. The more you can strengthen your muscles, the better able you’ll be to increase your metabolism (maintain a normal weight) and keep your blood sugar at normal levels. Strength exercises can be in the form of machines at a gym or fitness center – or, you can even use items around the house, such as books and cans of food.

Exercises designed to strengthen your back should be an important part of your exercise program. Back pain can be excruciating and life-changing and is common in senior citizens. Ask your doctor for a list of exercises you can do to strengthen back muscles or research on your own to find some that are right for you.

One of the worst maladies that can affect senior citizens is balance problems. Aging can cause loss of balance, but so can certain medications. There are exercises to specifically build your leg muscles and increase your perception of balance so that you’re less likely to fall. Keep in mind that in the United States, hospitals admit over 400,000 people per year for broken hips – and most are senior citizens.

Eating Right and Aging

As you age, food choices become important daily decisions that may affect the quality of the rest of your life. Seniors need fewer calories, and everything you eat should be based on weight gain and the nutrients that can maintain or boost your immune system and keep you healthy. Too much added weight and not enough vitamins and minerals can cause untold health problems.

Choose your foods to make sure you’re getting enough of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • B-Vitamins – Seniors need to be sure they eat lots of foods with B-vitamins. Vitamin-B12 isn’t found in plants, but you can get it in your diet if you eat fortified breakfast cereals. Tuna, lean beef, chicken and eggs also provide vitamin-B12, but if you don’t eat enough of these foods, be sure to take a supplement.
  • Vitamin-B6 is also an important vitamin for seniors. B6 vitamins can be found in foods that provide protein such as pork, fish and chicken. Again, fortified cereals can be a great source of vitamin B-6. Bananas, spinach, wheat germ and bran are among other sources for vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin-A – Cantaloupe, carrots, Brussels sprouts, peppers and most colorful plant products are rich in beta-carotene, which provides vitamin-A. Fish liver oil, eggs and fortified milk are also abundant in vitamin-A. If you don’t think you’re getting enough vitamin-A in your diet, talk to your doctor before taking a supplement as it can form toxic levels in your body.
  • Folic Acid – A synthetic form of folate, folic acid can be found in foods such as fortified cereal, enriched breads and some grains. Foods containing folate are bananas, asparagus, turnip greens, spinach wheat germ and orange juice.
  • Riboflavin – Milk, yogurt, eggs and whole grains are rich in riboflavin. Milk should be purchased in cardboard cartons rather than glass or plastic containers because it loses much of the vitamin from exposure to light. Other food sources high in riboflavin are asparagus, turkey, almonds and chicken thighs.

Some other vitamins that should be included in the foods seniors should be eating are vitamins C, D and E and choline. Eating a diet that’s balanced with these vitamins and minerals is best, but if it’s difficult for you to eat a balanced diet on a regular basis, talk to your doctor about supplements.

As you age, it’s important to fill up with foods that contain vitamins and minerals that will help us to maintain a healthy immune system and provide you with the best caloric intake rather than foods rich in sugar, fat and not much else. Eating right can help us age gracefully and live longer.

Basic Dental Care for Senior Citizens

As you age, dental care becomes more and more valuable to your overall health. Many senior citizens experience dental problems, but it’s good to know that these problems can be reduced and improved by a few simple techniques. Basically, changes take place in your mouth as you age — gums soften and the muscles in your mouth become weak. Saliva production is reduced as is the ability to chew your food.

Tooth decay may increase as you age – one of the results of reduced saliva in the mouth. It’s more difficult to use fillings to restore teeth because the decay often occurs near the gum line. Teeth often become brittle with aging because the pulp of the tooth becomes smaller, resulting in less fluid to the teeth. Teeth become brittle and can be easily chipped.

Periodontal disease often happens during the aging process. This causes swollen gums that bleed even when brushing your teeth. Loss of teeth can occur when food is trapped between the teeth and gums in tiny pockets. If you suspect periodontal disease, you should seek treatment immediately to avoid tooth loss.

You can improve your dental hygiene by practicing a few basic techniques, including:

· Brushing and flossing – It’s best to use a medium soft brush and paste. If you can’t appropriately grip a toothbrush because of arthritis or other joint problems, you can purchase a rubber strap that helps you secure a better grip. Be sure to brush your teeth, tongue and gums thoroughly after every meal. Flossing every day gets rid of debris that toothbrushes can’t reach and is essential to good dental hygiene.

· Rinse – As the flow of saliva is reduced, it’s more likely that food particles will damage your teeth and gums. Rinsing gets rid of the particles. Since some mouth washes are irritating to the gums, dilute it if necessary.

· Gauze wipes – If it’s difficult for you to brush or rinse, try wiping your teeth with gauze – this will help remove some of the debris found around the teeth and gums.

· Electric tooth brushes and irrigators – Electric tooth brushes are a boon to senior citizens. They’re easier to handle and very effective in cleaning teeth. Irrigators remove debris from teeth that toothbrushes miss, but can damage gums if it pushes food particles into gum pockets.

· Glycerine – A flavored lubricant that can stop irritation of the gums. It can also help stimulate saliva production.

A plan for better oral dental hygiene can reduce your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. If you have dentures, talk with your dentist about the difference in promoting good oral hygiene. Dentures are like your real teeth in that they can cause problems with gums if they aren’t properly taken care of.

Do your research on good dental hygiene and develop daily techniques that will ensure your dental health as you age. Your dentist can also help you develop a plan.