There are two ways to look at your health. You either respond to symptoms you’re experiencing, or you can work to prevent symptoms from occurring. Preventative health is very important, especially as you age.
Luckily, there are many simple lifestyle changes seniors can make to lessen the chances of suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, GERD, or heart disease. Things like eating healthy, exercising regularly, practicing spirituality, and making sure you have easy access to high-quality care can all make a huge difference.
Eating Healthy & Exercising
Healthy eating habits and regular exercise are things you often hear touted when the topic of health is brought up — and for good reason. These two simple changes can go a long way in keeping you healthy for years to come.
As you get older, it can be harder and harder to prioritize healthy habits. It’s true — eating healthy and exercising can take up a lot of effort and energy. But if you can develop and keep healthy habits, you are more likely to live a long and happy life.
You can start by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, not giving in to junk food, and keeping away from fast food, sugar, and alcohol. Choose organic vegetables whenever possible and avoid processed foods. It can take some time to retrain your taste buds, so be patient and give your new diet some time to stick. If eating is becoming difficult, there are lots of adaptive eating aids to help you grip dishes and prevent messes.
If you’re able, try going for a walk outside every day. It doesn’t matter how far you go or how fast you walk; just getting fresh air and moving your body is very beneficial for preventative health. Exercise promotes endorphins, making it a mood-booster as well. Both mental health and physical health can be improved through exercise. If you’re having a hard time moving, discuss mobility aid options with your doctor. You don’t want to overextend yourself, but it’s important to keep your body moving for as long as you can.
Treating illnesses like GERD with diet and lifestyle changes is a simple and effective way to positively impact your health. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your body as free from toxins as possible makes you less likely to suffer from chronic symptoms, and helps you be healthier overall.
When you look at health holistically, mental and spiritual health is just as important as physical health. In fact, they often impact each other. Your health involves your entire person – not just your body. A healthy mind can help a body heal, so finding a way to incorporate mental health and spirituality into your routine is an extremely important factor in staying healthy as you age.
Spirituality looks different for everyone. For some, it might mean going to church on Sundays. For others, it could mean taking daily walks in the woods to connect with nature. It could also mean something as simple as sitting down to meditate and clear your mind for five minutes every morning. Any way you practice spirituality will contribute to your overall health and wellness.
Spiritual care is an important part of patient-centered care, which seeks to make healing more of a discussion instead of simply a directive from a physician. You’re more likely to stick to a health plan if you feel understood and heard, and know why you’re doing it.
According to Duquesne University, “A growing body of evidence shows spirituality is an important component of emotional wellness for many patients, particularly those facing chronic or life-threatening illnesses.” Your beliefs matter, and it’s important that anyone helping you on your health journey respects that and helps you on your path.
Incorporating spiritual care into your plan for preventative health will go a long way in leading a happy and healthy life.
Accessing High-Quality Care
No matter how you look at it, education and communication are going to be big parts of your preventative health plan. The benefits of finding lifelong healthcare providers are huge; there’s just nothing quite like having a physician or healthcare professional that you trust and respect.
High-quality care could take the form of a counselor who helps you sort through your feelings or a nurse who takes the time to talk to you, educate you, and listen. “By offering education and counseling, nurses significantly can aid in preventative health efforts nationwide,” researchers at Bradley University attest.
If you have ever been rushed in and out of a medical office in 10 minutes or less, you know that it doesn’t feel good to feel like you’re nothing more than a time slot on someone’s schedule. The value of clear communication with your healthcare providers and easy access to screenings that are part of preventative care cannot be overstated. When you have a cooperative relationship with your healthcare team, your health and spirits will be more likely to soar.
Committing to lifestyle modifications for preventative health doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your everyday routine. Take things slow and add more as time goes on. By working toward a healthier diet, regularly exercising, practicing spirituality, and finding a great team of caregivers, you’ll have a strong plan for preventative care.