We all engage in everyday activities that might not be the best for our health. But as aging adults, we want to optimize our health in every way, shape and form. Simple bad habits can alter our physical, and mental health, and can worsen conditions overtime. If you are looking to re-evaluate your daily behavior to be the healthiest version of yourself, here are some examples of bad habits to avoid.
Being active is a healthy activity for anyone to engage in, and inactivity is a bad habit to get into. Inactivity for an aging adult is especially detrimental, and you’re passing up on opportunities that can increase cardiovascular health, improve blood glucose, and support continuing cognitive function. Low-impact exercise can lead to benefits that help assist and maintain mobility. As adults age, they are more likely to suffer from impaired motor movements necessary for ambulation, and exercise assists in circumventing negative consequences.
Weight-bearing activity can also be beneficial for some older adults. For conditions like osteoporosis (thinning of bone mass), weight-bearing activity creates demand on the body to enhance bone structure. This should always be done in moderation and safety, and should be supervised by a relevant health professional. Some communities offer free programs that support elderly health and are conducted by a health professional. They will monitor your blood pressure and heart rate, and alter exercises accordingly.
As protein synthesis decreases in the aging adult (the ability to convert protein into muscle fibers), it becomes more difficult to sustain posture. However, because muscles are involved with sustaining posture, proper posture can help bring about other health benefits like treating osteoporosis. Proper posture also decreases the likelihood of falls, as elderly persons are able to maintain balance throughout their body. Using the muscles required for posture consistently improves muscle retention, and can strengthen both ligaments and bones.
Proper posture while sitting is important to assist with some current conditions as well. Sciatica pain, troubles many older adults and proper posture can help alleviate these symptoms, and reduce the amount of pressure placed on the nerve. In dealing with sciatica and the pain it brings, it is also important to pay attention to what you are actually sitting on. Using seat cushions can help reduce the pain you may be feeling in your lower back.
Good posture also maintains cardiovascular health and improves blood flow. This can lead to a reduction in blood pressure and improved oxygenation. Having a better flow of oxygen to the brain can improve mood and energy.
Lack Of Daily Socialization
Most people require social interactions throughout the day in order to stay sane. Unfortunately, many elderly persons are unable to meet their social needs because of mobility issues or a lack of a social network. Participating in social groups or volunteering in the community helps improve mood, and can have a host of physical bonuses too. Daily socializing helps with maintaining communication skills and prevent declining cognitive health. Blood pressure, and mood are also elated, and seniors who are actively social tend to have better relationships with their spouses and families.
Almost everyone knows by now that smoking is not the greatest for our health. It can lead to decreases in pulmonary (lung) functionality, and have extremely bad consequences on our heart. Risks of stroke, and heart attack are significantly increased when tobacco consumption is involved. COPD can become exacerbated and lead to problems with breathing and requiring medical therapies such as oxygen administration. Many older adults feel that it’s “too late” for them to change their ways and decide to keep smoking.
Quitting smoking at any age comes with its assets, and carbon monoxide levels start to drop just 12 hours after the last cigarette. Regardless of if you’re an aging adult, one way to make an immediate improvement in your life is to quit smoking. Your risk of heart attack will decrease, as well as stroke, and you won’t worsen COPD. You’ll also increase the amount of oxygen available to the brain and body and this will give you a boost in energy.
Drinking above a moderate amount as a senior can lead to adverse side effects. There can be a decrease in sleep quality, and an increase in falls and chronic pain. Drinking in moderation comes with a slew of benefits, but metabolism decreases as we age. The amount that seniors need to drink is reduced to receive these benefits. Drinking can also lead to a depreciation of cognitive function if it’s occurring over a long period of time.
Drinking a moderate amount helps to reduce your risk of falls, increase your sleep quality, and improve vitamin absorption. It’s always best to talk with your doctor to see how many drinks you’re recommended to have based on whatever medications you’re on. Mixing alcohol with some medications may reduce their efficacy and you won’t be getting the treatment that you need.
Taking Medications As Prescribed
Many people attribute senior’s confusion of taking medications to their old age, but this is absolutely not true. Most people who have to take several medications throughout the day at explicit times would have difficulty adjusting to this regimen. However, taking medications as prescribed is mandatory to have good health. Pill containers that are labelled morning, afternoon, and evening are going to especially help keep track of when to take certain medications.
If your physician has recommended that you do not drink while taking medication make sure you adhere to their request. Alcohol can either exacerbate symptoms of a medication, or reduce its efficacy altogether. Alcohol may prevent some anticonvulsants from working properly, or it may reduce blood pressure far below an acceptable standard.
If you’re noticing a negative side effect when you’re being introduced to a new medication, speak to your physician immediately. Many of us dislike trips to the doctor, but trying to live a functional life while in older adulthood is difficult if we’re experiencing negative symptoms. Your doctor can likely adjust the dose or the medication to make things easier on you.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
While it’s true that older adults require less sleep than other stages of development, they still require a healthy sleep schedule. Older adults are recommended to get between 6-9 hours of sleep every night, and falling below this threshold may be unhealthy. Poor sleep hygiene has negative health effects such as increasing cardiovascular problems, and developing poor mood. Ensure that you’re going to bed at the same time every night if you can, and allowing yourself to sleep the amount that your body needs.
Older adults also suffer from insomnia more than other age groups and this can make getting an adequate level of sleep difficult. Make sure you talk to your physician if you’re experiencing any difficulty sleeping over an extended period of time. Attempt to practice good sleep hygiene skills, like turning off any screens before bedtime, and going to bed at the same time every night. Exercise is also shown to improve sleep quality, and reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
Many older adults are unable to provide their nutritional requirements due to decreases in fine motor function or mobility. This isn’t always the case, but it does happen. Social isolation can further decrease nutritional intake, and if you’re unable to meet your nutritional requirements see if a familial or local support group can assist you. Some organizations are not-for-profit and provide the elderly with meals throughout the week. Other local groups like Churches are perfect examples where the community helps meet the needs of its members.
When you’re eating your meals make sure you’re still getting your fruits and vegetables and eating healthily. Getting adequate nutrition can improve your systemic health and help with both your mood and cognitive function. Seniors tend to have a slower metabolism and high fat foods are more easily stored and increase weight.
When you’re older you can still get the most out of your life, and find joy in activities. Getting outside and being a part of the community can help improve your mood and keep your body moving. Utilizing proper posture can keep reducing your risk of falls, but it can take a lot of energy to keep up. Try avoiding one of the other bad habits on this list to increase your energy so you can keep up the good posture.
Try socializing daily and finding local social support groups in the community if you don’t have a family network. Volunteering is also a great way to help out the community in your later years! Quitting smoking or drinking less can have benefits no matter your current age, and it’s likely to make you enjoy a lot more out of life. Make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition and sleep to keep yourself feeling vibrant. Always talk to a doctor to make sure you’re taking medications as advised, treating your conditions is necessary to living a good life. By avoiding these bad habits you can optimize your health, and your quality of life, and enjoy your later years.