Much attention is paid to the cognitive health of seniors, and while everyone is aware that physical health is also very important, a healthy weight for seniors does not often get the attention it deserves. National Healthy Weight Week is scheduled for January 16-22 for 2018, and it’s a good time to consider the importance of maintaining a body weight which is healthy and supportable for seniors and for all people.
Your home caregivers in the Atherton area encourage everyone to establish a legitimate and sustainable New Years’ Resolution to work toward a physical body weight which will be beneficial rather than detrimental to your ongoing health. Here are some ways that you can work toward that goal, and achieve a greater sense of well-being in your senior years.
Proper Medical Care
While many of the activities and steps necessary toward maintaining a healthy weight for seniors are carried out in the home setting, it should not be overlooked that medical advice should be an essential part of the whole process. In fact, a good baseline should be established by consulting your doctor about your personal Body Mass Index, which is a figure derived by dividing a person’s body mass by the square of his/her height.
In effect, it calculates what your own body mass is, and a doctor can compare that to what it should be for a person of your age, height, and body type. If it is important for you to lose some weight, your doctor will be able to identify that situation, and if you are already close to an ideal weight, your doctor can recommend ways that will help keep you at that ideal situation.
Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle
By eating healthy and maintaining an active lifestyle, it will be much easier to maintain the proper weight for a senior. Of course, your physical and emotional health will have an impact on your ability to do that, but to the greatest extent possible given your personal constraints, this should be your goal. Eating healthy for older adults includes all of the following:
- eating lean meats, poultry, and fish
- including plenty of whole grains in your diet, such as cereal, pasta, noodles, bread, and rice
- having lots of fruits, vegetables, and beans in the diet
- adding dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese in the daily menu
- drinking plenty of water
- avoiding excess consumption of alcohol
- no usage of tobacco
Maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is another component of keeping your weight at a desirable level, and one which will contribute to your overall sense of well-being. To accomplish this, consider adding in the following elements of a healthy lifestyle:
- gardening, walking, dancing – anything which you can do for 30 minutes on most days of the week
- instead of driving to the store or other nearby destinations, do the walking instead
- when reading or watching the news, stand up and walk around, rather than sitting on the sofa or chair
- if sitting for long-ish periods, get up and stretch your muscles, and get your heart pumping more.
Losing Weight, Gaining Weight
If you are at an unhealthy weight as a senior, it is best to ask a doctor’s advice about how to get down to a healthier, more sustainable body profile. Embarking on any kind of weight loss program which calls for reducing dietary intake can actually be counter-productive, especially if it deprives the body of essential nutrients. Your doctor can advise you on how to lose weight safely, without depriving your body of nutrition. It’s never a good idea to try any of the ‘starvation’ diets which have received attention because seniors are more susceptible to complications from nutrition deficiency than are younger people.
It happens often enough that seniors lose weight unintentionally as they age, and this can be as harmful as gaining too much weight. This is another area that should be discussed with your doctor because over a prolonged period it can be a serious detriment to your health. When muscle mass is decreased in this way, it can lead to a whole host of other issues, such as an increased potential for slips and falls, which in turn can cause broken bones and other mishaps.
For National Healthy Weight Week this year, people of all ages are advised to follow some very general approaches to healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Obviously, as a senior, you must take this into the context of your abilities and your current state of health, but to the extent you are able, try the following ideas for healthy weight maintenance:
- eat several small meals per day, instead of one or two larger meals
- stay as active as possible, scheduling some activity every day for 30 minutes if possible
- take a good multi-vitamin daily, to ensure your body is receiving needed nutrients
- make fruits and vegetables one of the main components of your daily diet
- flush your body out of toxins which accumulate, by drinking several glasses of water each day.