Yes, we all have to grow old someday. Some sooner, some later. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. But how about growing old gracefully and enjoying the process? With a little effort and some planning, we can ensure that the process is painless for both us and our families.
Apart from the inevitable health issues of aging, such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, arthritis, rheumatism, and so on, our dietary habits and lifestyles can make a world of difference to our health and how we age. Taking a few precautions, making a few adjustments and maintaining a little self-discipline, can prevent some of the mental and physical health problems that are associated with aging. And the earlier we start implementing these measures, the more we slow down the process of aging and can enjoy growing old gracefully. What’s more – we may even enjoy it!
Basic nutritional needs
Seriously, this list may look a little daunting, but when you pare it down to the basics, it’s really quite simple. And it’s all about portions – you only eat portions that you are comfortable with consuming. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. What is important here is what the portions comprise.
Here are a few simple tips to follow, in the easiest way possible, to ensure your daily nutritional needs are met with the passage of time:
- At least two servings of fruit per day
- At least three servings of vegetables every day
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. – at least three or more servings per day
- Fluid intake – water, soups, juices, etc. – six to eight servings per day, preferably more of the water than the others
- One serving of protein daily – preferably fish or chicken
- One egg every day
- Nuts to snack on
- Fiber/roughage – cereals, muesli, etc. – once a day
- Salt, sugar, oils, fats, spices, white flour, etc. – use sparingly
Making the most of meal times
Whether you live alone and have to fend for yourself, or whether you have a caregiver, certain measures can be implemented to make meal times easier to handle or even more pleasurable. The important thing is to understand that aging imposes certain limitations, that can be dealt with, without getting stressed out. Enabling you to enjoy growing old gracefully.
- Incorporate variety in the daily diet
- The food should be as appealing as possible in terms of taste, flavor, garnishing, etc. – it’s so much nicer to sit down to an attractive looking meal!
- Food should be at just the right temperature – who wants to eat food that scalds your mouth or is cold and congealed?
- Try to avoid eating in front of the TV. Sitting down to a meal at a well-laid table is far more pleasant and allows you to focus on your food and enjoy it
- Eat slowly and chew properly – enabling effective digestion
- Don’t add salt to your food while you’re eating
- Avoid alcohol with your meals – especially at dinner time
- Avoid coffee after sunset
There’s more to good health than just nutrition for seniors
There’s no denying that nutrition plays a huge role in our lives as we age. But good nutrition by itself isn’t enough to ensure that we grow old gracefully. There are a number of other factors, when combined with effective nutrition, that can contribute to the general wellbeing of seniors.
- Exercise – the most important aspect of maintaining good health as we age. You don’t have to indulge in strenuous activities that wear you out or may even lead to injuries. A 30-minute walk once a day or two 15 minute walks are equally effective. If you enjoying golfing, go for it. Swimming too is a gentle form of exercise but do it under supervision if you feel insecure about going it alone. Yoga too, can be a great alternative with long term health benefits. Remember, the more active you are, the higher your metabolism, and the more flexible your joints.
- Hobbies – if you’ve retired and time hangs heavy on your hands, try to take up a hobby that keeps you and your mind occupied. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had time for – like painting, gardening, or photography? A hobby stimulates you mentally and physically, keeps you alert and offers creative satisfaction.
- Socializing – one of the most common problems as we age, is that of isolation. This could be due to health issues, less mobility, lack of transportation, etc. But it’s important to interact with people, share views, eat together and generally enjoy each other’s company. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hang out with only other seniors. Go out; watch films and plays; go to a mall; or anything else that gives you pleasure. Take a friend if you don’t want to go alone.
Now, aging doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an old person. We basically start aging the minute we’re born! But yes, when we start reaching our 40’s or 50’s or 60’s, we do find our priorities change; our health isn’t what it used to be; and we tend to slow down a bit, both mentally and physically. However, we have fewer responsibilities as we get older and have more time to do all the things we’ve always wanted to do.
So, do it. Look after yourself, eat well, keep busy and enjoy growing old gracefully.