Some of the first images that come to mind when thinking about the holidays are those so-called sugar plums dancing in our heads. From stuffed turkeys and sweet potato pies to rich side dishes and sweet treats, there’s a seemingly endless array of festive delights to tempt the taste buds. While it’s fine to indulge in seasonal savories from time to time, it’s also important for seniors to keep their health and nutrition in check.
Approximately one third of seniors are lonely, according to the most recent National Poll on Healthy Aging. Notably, this poll was conducted before the onset of a global pandemic that spurred dramatic protocol for social distancing and self-isolation. Spread-prevention measures have brought on an even more severe state of loneliness for people of all ages, but especially for older adults, who are already at high risk of experiencing these types of feelings.
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It’s completely natural for seniors to experience some changes in their sense of taste. In fact, many have lost about two thirds of their overall taste buds by age 70, impacting their sensitivity to tastes like sweet and salty. Certain medications and medical conditions can also diminish a senior’s taste, causing some foods to seem bland. That’s why it’s common for seniors to overcompensate with higher intakes of sugar and salt.
Nutritional needs are finicky things. As we age, our bodies change, our appetites transform and our health requirements evolve. In response to these adjustments, some seniors face unintentional weight loss or experience other dietary realities that put their overall health at risk. Therefore, seniors must be extra vigilant about what and how often they eat.
Autumn is arriving, and with it comes the rush of thoughts about upcoming holidays, changing temperatures and what’s in store for winter this year. There’s no doubt some of this unknown will be faced with anxiety about how to plan for the next several months. In particular, many seniors and their loved ones worry about how to handle any necessary quarantine measures.
As each calendar day ticks by, we’re reminded again and again how deeply the coronavirus has impacted every single one of us. For months, we’ve scrambled to discover new ways of coping, new ways of living and working, new ways of defining “normal” in so many aspects of our lives. Unsurprisingly, these challenges have triggered a range of emotions, from fear and anxiety to sadness, loneliness and stress. If you (or a senior in your life) are struggling with these types of feelings, it’s important to prioritize your mental health and take advantage of opportunities to enhance your personal well-being.
The aging process is an interesting one for sure. And like any other phase of life, one’s golden years are accompanied by unique ups and downs, joys and sorrows, moments of anxiety and moments of peace. There are changes to mind, body and spirit. There are new things to learn and new opportunities to embrace. And while there’s no stopping the aging process, there’s much that can be done to live your senior years with the utmost satisfaction and enjoyment. In most cases, this journey is best supported by a healthy approach to diet and nutrition.
When you’re caring for an aging loved one, it’s easy to get caught up in the self-defeating inner dialogue that’s tied to feelings of guilt.
Many adults who are navigating the nuances of their golden years can experience a sense of loss in terms of engagement with activities that fill their days with purpose. What they may not be considering is that this stage in a person’s life is often the ideal time to take up a new hobby. From physical benefits to mental and emotional health advantages, engaging in an enjoyable hobby can offer seniors immense meaning and value. As you acknowledge this reality and begin to think about what hobbies pique your interest as well as meet your individual needs, you might defer to senior staples like gardening, knitting and painting. And while these are certainly excellent choices if they suit your particular fancy, there are also some lesser-known options you may never have considered before.
As seniors look forward to summertime after the long, dreary months of winter’s chill, the idea of having to continue social distancing may feel incredibly disappointing. In the midst of a global pandemic, safety remains a primary concern for older adults who face increased risk in contracting the virus. But the cancellation of community gatherings and in-person events doesn’t have to be devastating. There is still a host of fun and energizing summertime activities for seniors to enjoy even as they remain safely socially distant. It’s more important than ever for older adults to stay physically and mentally healthy. The change of season is a perfect time to capitalize on the socially distant activities—both indoors and out—that put a swing back in your step, or that of an aging loved one.
Caregivers are called upon to do so much, continually giving of themselves in any number of ways. Many are sandwiched between the needs of their elderly, dependent parents and the responsibilities of tending to their children who haven’t yet left the nest. In the midst of balancing this complex family life with a potential career, there’s often very little time and energy devoted to caring for themselves. But when the caregiver neglects their own needs, they risk some highly detrimental outcomes, not the least of which is physical, mental and emotional burnout. According to the most recent Caregiving in the U.S. study, conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute: