Top 10 “Worries” of Older Americans
Aging Happy - Part 1, 3-part series
Have you heard that an estimated 10,000 baby boomers turn age 65 each day? The collective voice of this growing group is redefining how we age. The National Council of Aging and others recently analyzed the top concerns of older Americans. The results are both insightful and a call to action. In this 3 Part Series entitled “Aging Happy” we’ll discuss the Top Ten “Worries” of Older Americans. Part 1 speaks to Maintaining Optimal Health, Mental and Brain Health and the importance of Social Ties and Support. This foundation will serve as a catalyst for meaningful conversations about next steps along the journey to aging gracefully with health and vitality.
Maintaining physical and mental health in addition to preserving memory is a significant concern. Be encouraged that the strategies and tools for each one of these areas support all of these at the same time.
Do you feel rested? The latest sleep recommendations for adults over 65 years is 7-8 hours; 5 to 6 hours or 9 hours may be adequate but amounts outside of these ranges can be a concern. Feeling rested when you rise in the morning with sufficient energy for activities is the goal. Protect and support this essential part of your plan for health.
Did you know that adequate hydration can decrease your risk for heart issues and stroke? Our perception of thirst decreases as we age and is not a reliable indicator of the need to drink. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine if there are any special recommendations for your daily water intake.
An eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, healthy carbohydrates and fats will provide the cellular nutrition to fuel your body and support overall health, fitness, and vitality. This is foundational at any age and especially important to minimize our risk of chronic illness and disease. The social connection at meal time is important. Dining alone most of the time can be a risk factor for malnutrition.
Stress is a part of daily life though allowing it to overwhelm our lives can lead to health issues including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other illnesses. Stress management solutions include: finding a hobby; time with friends; singing and dancing; deep breathing, meditation or yoga and connecting with nature to name a few.
Movement is an excellent stress reliever and experts recommend moderate exercise for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week. Muscle-strengthening activities for two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups is also important. Statistics show that less than one-third of Americans aged 65+ meet this recommendation. There are many proven programs that help keep seniors active. Silver Sneakers and EnhanceFitness are two such programs. Participants report increased strength, improved balance and flexibility. This boost in activity can also elevate mood.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 seniors suffer from depression and increased activity, as well as the social connections that happen in the process, can be helpful. How can you tell if someone is depressed? Often difficult to determine this contributes to misdiagnosis and undertreatment according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Depression is often thought of as a normal part of aging especially if there is a chronic illness or loss of function, but it is a true and treatable medical condition. Someone who is depressed has feelings of sadness or anxiety that last for weeks and may also experience:
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment
It is important to share with family, health care provider, clergy, counselor or other trusted professional your concerns in this area so that you can access the necessary support. It is recommended that when concerned about a loved one being depressed, offer to go with him or her to see a healthcare provider.
Brain health, specifically memory loss is a top concern and there is a lot we can do to support optimal health in this area. Attention to ALL the areas we have discussed is essential. If you have ever forgotten your doctor’s name when you see her at a restaurant, missed your regular appointment at the hairdresser or worried about Alzheimer’s you may just be suffering from a “frazzled brain” according to Sondra Kornblatt, author of “A Better Brain at Any Age”. Kornblatt cites the “combination of stress, overwork, normal aging, unhealthy habits and information overload” as the culprit and offers a holistic way to improve your memory, reduce stress and sharpen your wits with over 100 tips and exercises. More on this topic available from the educational workshop at Aging Tree.
There is a wealth of resources to help us preserve and support optimal health and independence to the fullest extent possible for the longest time possible. This aging gracefully is not simply a “catch-all phrase” but an opportunity as we stop at significant mileposts on our journey through the years. In Part 1 we have laid a foundation for the journey. Part 2, in May Legacy, we’ll discuss – Staying in Your Own Home, Cutting Costs, Sudden Bills, and Financial Security. Join us, you are most welcome to come along!
Cheree M. Albert MSN, CRNP, CPNP is the owner of Integrity Health Source LLC. You can contact Cheree by phone: 407-902-8945 or email firstname.lastname@example.org