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4 Basic Health Tips for Caregivers and Seniors

Posted by Constance Schein, RN
on December 26, 2017
A group stroll at Aegis Living

With our busy lives and packed schedules, we often forget the basics of good health.  In this article, we will remind you of four basic healthy habits that can be incorporated at any age and benefit everyone in the family.   If you are a caregiver who needs to stay strong for your family or if you have an elderly parent with compromised health, try focusing on these simple, healthy habits.

Four Basic Habits for Good Health

Get Your Zzzz’s.  It seems simple enough, but so many of us struggle to get enough sleep each night.  Many of us assume that we can run on less sleep as we age, but this is not true.  Older adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.   Your aging parent may be getting less sleep or suffering from interrupted sleep due to frequent urination, pain from arthritis, medication side effects, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, heartburn, and stress, to name a few.  It is essential to help them set up a bedtime routine that is conducive to good sleep—going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evening, sleeping in a dark and quiet room, turning the TV off, and not napping during the day.  Find more tips for a good night’s sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundationwebsite.

Walk More.  Many people see exercise as all or nothing, which can lead to them feeling defeated before they even begin.   As a simple change, try walking more in your daily lives. Purchase a Fitbit to monitor the number of steps you take throughout the day. Be aware of how often you grab the car keys when you could be walking instead.   Can you walk to the school to pick up your kids or walk with your mom around the mall on a rainy day?  Putting on your sneakers and hitting the pavement is free, convenient, and will leave you and your parent feeling energized.

Eat Healthy. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Seniors sense of taste and smell can fade with age, so make your plates colorful with a variety of produce in deep green, yellow, and bright orange to visually stimulate their appetite.  Remember to include nuts, beans, legumes and fiber-rich whole grains in your menu.  Stick to lean meat choices and incorporate heart-healthy fish at least twice per week. For healthy bones, include sources of calcium and vitamin D. When cooking use healthy fats like olive or coconut oil.  Add herbs and spices to reduce your need to add salt or more fat.

Stay Hydrated.  As your parent becomes older, their sense of thirst will fade.  If they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, they may forget to drink or eat.  It’s important to make sure your parent gets plenty of fluids throughout the day.  Hydration is vital to one’s health to keep electrolytes balanced, blood volume normal, aids in digestion, transportation of nutrients, and kidneys functioning. And if your parent becomes dehydrated, they have the added risk of mental confusion.  Dehydration is common among the elderly, so prevention is critical.

If you have questions about how Aegis Living helps our residents stay healthy visit one of the communities near you and speak with one of our expert staff members.

Profile image of Constance Schein, RN

Constance Schein, RN

Former Senior Vice President of Clinical and Health Services

Constance Schein is a registered nurse with more than 25 years of nursing experience in senior-focused healthcare organizations. She led Aegis Living’s major nursing and care initiatives and was responsible for managing and developing healthcare partnerships, technology, and wellness programs to improve resident care.

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