If you read our last blog article, The Secret to Health & Longevity That’s Too Important to Miss , you are familiar with the concept of “The Village Effect.” This metaphor for how human connection significantly impacts our minds and bodies points to the powerful link between socialization and lifespan. It’s an incredible concept supported by studies in social neuroscience, and it makes the case for just how important human connection is in the life of a senior.
It could be argued that no widespread experience has shed greater light on the universal need for face-to-face contact and personal connection than the global pandemic. Amidst this seismic threat to public health, people around the world have been rattled by overwhelming fear, stress and social isolation. For many, this reality has been accompanied by an unmistakable appreciation and longing for the kind of interaction that used to mark our everyday lives before the onset of COVID.
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There are simply some factors impacting Alzheimer’s and its severity that are completely out of our control, including those like age and genetics. There are others, however, over which we have a great deal of influence, and one of the most prominent is nutrition. Advances in science and research have suggested that a person’s diet can have a significant impact on their ability to think and remember as they age.
Stress doesn’t discriminate based on generation, and no matter what’s going on in a senior’s life, there’s potential for them to suffer from the physical and emotional effects of stress. Circumstances like illness, loss of a loved one, loss of independence, a strained relationship, a move or other difficult changes to their daily life could be major contributors to stress. Learning how to understand and identify that stress is critical to working through it or supporting the senior in your life as they experience it.
While the pandemic wages on and we edge closer to one full year of the often overwhelming threat of COVID-19, some things remain steady as ever—like the clockwork transition from one season to the next. As the onset of blustery, cold weather kicks into high gear, many seniors and their loved ones are challenged to maintain a strong focus on safety and social distancing, all without succumbing to the potentially harmful effects of social isolation, cabin fever and boredom.
With holiday spirits and festivities in full force, there’s a great deal of focus on the sweets and treats that make the season bright. It can be tempting to overindulge in the many tasty desserts that typically grace our tables this time of year. Although it’s often a challenge to keep one’s health and nutrition in mind while enjoying the tasty pleasures of the holidays, it’s especially important for seniors to prioritize healthy habits and manage appropriate levels of sugar, salt and fat.
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.
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.