Category Archives: Senior Care

It’s Never Too Late To Become A Vegan

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A BIG Thanks goes to Jess Walter for submitting this excellent post!

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about going vegan for years but still haven’t taken the plunge. Maybe you think you’ve waited too long, and worry that it’s too late for you to make the switch. After all, only about 4% of American adults over the age of 55 are vegan or vegetarian — does this small number mean that it’s not a good idea? In a word, no. Older adults have plenty to gain from a plant-based diet. Here’s what you should know about going vegan as a senior.

Eating Made Simple

Many older adults end up adjusting their diets because eating becomes more difficult as we get older. A plant-based diet might be easier to chew than a meat-based one. Though not all vegan foods are healthy, if you maintain a good vegan diet that’s loaded with fruits and veggies, you’ll be sure to get plenty of nutrients while aiding your digestion. Vegan meals are also generally easier to prepare and waste less food, which is why it’s ideal for seniors who’d rather not spend extended amounts of time preparing elaborate meals.

The Perks Of Going Meatless

Aging is inevitable, our bodies will change and decline as we get older. Over time, our immune system will stop functioning properly, our joints will start aching, and our senses will begin to dull. But our diet can hold off the aging process. Research has found that vegans have the most antioxidants in their bodies compared to lacto-ovo vegetarians, pescatarians, semi-vegetarians, and non-vegetarians. Antioxidants protect cells from damage, potentially holding off the signs of aging for longer.

No matter what your diet, it’s important that you consume a varied range of foods. If you ensure that you’re consuming the nutrients your body needs, you can lower the risk of developing many conditions common to seniors. For example, vegans and vegetarians are less likely to have diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Your Changing Dietary Needs

As we age, our bodies need less calories to function, which means we can easily get our daily calorie requirements from a non-meat diet. However, just because your caloric requirements have decreased doesn’t mean you need less nutrients. Senior vegans should ensure that they’re getting enough vitamins and minerals to keep their bodies healthy.

Thankfully, there are plenty of plant-based sources for the nutrients our bodies need. For example, we can get calcium from soy milk and dark green leafy vegetables. Nuts and legumes are excellent sources of protein. And as you get older, it’s probably a good idea to supplement your diet with doctor-recommended multivitamins suitable for your needs — whether you’re vegan or not.

Do Your Research

Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t go vegan. Switching to a plant-based diet shouldn’t sacrifice your health; in fact, if done right, it should make you even healthier. If you’re seriously considering going vegan, read up on how you can make sure that you’re giving your body all the nutrients it needs.

Shifting to a new diet can be difficult, but you don’t have to rush into things. Start slowly by adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet and lessening your meat intake. And, of course, make sure to set an appointment with your doctor and a nutritionist so you can get advice on how you can safely transition to the vegan lifestyle.

 

Thanks again, Jess! You Rock!!!  Happy Summer, Everyone! ~Nina

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Improving Quality of Life for Seniors

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The following article has been submitted by Jason Lewis. Jason is a personal trainer and he’s the primary caretaker for his mother. Jason works to create programs that are considerate to the special health needs of those over the age of 65. 

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Improving Quality of Life for Seniors

When seniors reach their older years, they want to continue to maintain a high quality of life. Staying physically healthy is important, but that’s not all there is to life. We need to ensure their mental and emotional state is in good shape as well. Here are a few ways to improve seniors’ everyday quality of life and give them a positive outlook, which can ease stress and help cognitive function.

Monitor Depression

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says depression affects up to 5 percent of the elderly population. That number jumps to 13.5 percent for seniors who require home health care. Get acquainted with the signs of depression in the elderly and be on the lookout for them in the seniors you know and love, especially after major health incidents or events like the loss of a spouse. If necessary, take them to the doctor to get the help, counseling, and/or medication they might need.

Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity does wonders for both the mind and body. Exercise can keep the blood flowing, relieve stress and anxiety, sharpen the mind, boost the immune system, encourage better sleep, build stamina, and even create fun. This doesn’t have to a huge workout for seniors. Even something as simple as walking or swimming can give them the benefits they need. They don’t even have to leave their home. There are many at-home exercises that seniors can do inside using exercise videos or fitness apps. Staying active is the key.

Another excellent exercise for seniors is playing golf. There’s nothing like spending time with friends at a golf course while breathing in fresh air and enjoying the sunshine. Golf is also a great low-impact workout; seniors can burn calories by walking and swinging their clubs.

Stay Mentally Active

Mental activity is important as well. Find something the senior in your life enjoys and help them stay mentally engaged. This can take the form of reading, games, and puzzles, such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku, or even learning a new instrument if they’re feeling adventurous. Some seniors may even want to go back to school for a class on a topic they’re interested in.

Keeping the brain sharp isn’t all about puzzles. A plant-based diet can help improve memory and cognitive function, slow the aging process, increase energy levels, and even help seniors get better sleep. Next time you go to the store, encourage seniors to try new fruits and vegetables or visit the farmer’s market together. If you help with food prep, put veggies front and center. You might even consider starting a garden together to pair low impact exercise with healthy eating.

Fight Substance Abuse 

Sadly, dependency and addiction are issues with seniors that you may have to face as you maintain their quality of life. While Americans over the age of 65 comprise about 13 percent of the population, they take about 33 percent of all prescription drugs. Even when they take medicine for legitimate reasons, it can lead to abuse, addiction, and dependency, especially with opioids. Statistics also show that up to 17 percent of adults over the age of 65 struggle with alcohol abuse. 

If you see any signs of dependency or addiction, talk to them about it. Research treatment options and get them into a program if necessary. Let them know you’re there for them and you’re not going to leave them, even when things get tough. 

Overall Happiness

You can do several little things to give seniors a brighter outlook on life as well. Create beauty in their lives with fresh flowers, their favorite music, and sunshine. Make sure they’re eating well. Get them out of the house for community events or even just a country drive or walk in the park. Arrange their medications and any treatments they’re undergoing so they don’t have to spend so much time and energy managing details. Share details of your life with them and include them in family events; they love to be part of what’s going on with their loved ones.

Although seniors face challenges in their later years, they can still live a fulfilling life if you follow a few simple guidelines. Giving seniors a high quality of life is the least we can do after all they have done for us.

Thank you so much, Jason! I really appreciate your contribution and the work that you do! Happy Spring, everyone!