Visiting Angels Richmond, VA Blog

Are You Well? Five Areas of Wellness Seniors Neglect

There are many changes that occur in our bodies as we grow older. Some change is inevitable. For instance, our bodies use less and less energy, so our metabolism decreases. We can’t walk as quickly as we could in the days of our youth, and our skin shows the results of a life filled with ups and downs. Our hair turns gray or falls out, and our eyesight diminishes as the years pass by. Thinking about all the changes that we have little to no control over as we age is depressing. However, there are many areas of our health and well-being that are in our control. By prioritizing their health needs, many older adults find that they feel confident and energized, even if they still find themselves moving a little slower than in previous years.

August is National Wellness Month, a month focused on self-care, managing stress and promoting healthy routines. With that in mind, here are five areas of wellness that seniors tend to neglect, and a few suggestions to help your aging loved one prioritize these aspects of their well-being.

Dental Hygiene
Over the years, the tough enamel that protects teeth from decay starts to wear away. This leaves teeth susceptible to cavities. Older adults are also more susceptible to gum disease. Dry mouth is also common amongst older adults, due to age or the side effect of medications. Dry mouth leads to tooth decay if not managed properly. Dental hygiene is very important for older adults, including those that have implants or dentures. Help your aging loved one prevent gum disease by reminding them to brush in the morning and before bed. Encourage them to floss daily and schedule regular dental appointments for them.

Hydration is another health area that many seniors neglect. As we age, our thirst sensation decreases, leaving many older adults dehydrated. Dehydration causes a slew of health problems for older adults. Stop the cycle of dehydration by reminding your loved one to drink water. Start with a glass of water first thing in the morning and with each meal, before sipping another drink. Then, teach them to look at the color of their urine before flushing. Pale and clear is a sign of healthy hydration; bright and yellow indicates they need to drink more water.

Skin Care
Many seniors neglect caring for their skin, including applying sunscreen regularly and eating the right nutrients. Our skin is a major organ that has many important functions to perform. It reflects internal health conditions that older adults are more prone to, such as liver problems, kidney disease, allergies, and more. It’s also our first line of defense against environmental hazards. Encourage your aging loved one to schedule a skin screening with a dermatologist. Ask the dermatologist to determine which vitamins your loved one needs to add to their diet. Establish a skin care routine that suits your loved one, including applying sunscreen when they head outdoors.

Muscular System
While some older adults may participate in regular cardio exercises, many older adults neglect training their muscular system. They view weight or resistance training for the youth or athletes. However, strength training is very beneficial for older adults. It can reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic pain, and depression. It also promotes independence in older age. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that older adults participate in 8-10 strength training exercises involving the major muscle groups, 2-3 nonconsecutive days a week. Visit the ACSM website for more information and ideas on how to incorporate strength training into your loved one’s exercise routine.

Social Connections
Finally, an area of health and wellness that many seniors neglect is their social health and well-being. The likelihood of an older adult living alone increases as they grow older each year. Many older adults have suffered the loss of their spouse, siblings, and closest friends. Making connections as a senior is challenging, especially when a senior has limited mobility or can no longer drive. Chronic health conditions also play a role in senior isolation. Tune in to your loved one’s social connections and ensure that they stay connected with others.

Visiting Angels Richmond wants all seniors to live well and enjoy their silver years. We are here to support your aging loved one so that they can live safely and independently in the comfort of their own home. Whether you’re looking for someone to support your loved one’s social needs or are a senior living alone and need assistance with basic hygiene, we offer a variety of senior in-home care needs that are tailored to your individual needs. From companion care to dementia care services, many of our clients have found comfort in connecting with a familiar face weekly or several times a week. To learn more about our team and what we do, please contact us today.
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