Staying Healthy in Your Golden Years During COVID-19
Retirement is a part of our lives where we look forward to relaxing and enjoying the abundance of extra time. We have a chance to explore the world, pursue hobbies, and spend time with our grandchildren.
But let’s not forget that the key aspect of having a vibrant and productive retirement means you have to keep your body and mind healthy.
Today, with the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping a high focus on our health is more important than ever. As our older loved ones follow all the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe and healthy, they can also include some additional activities in their routines to help keep their minds sharp and bodies fit.
Here are some ways for people in their golden years to stay healthy:
Exercising is one of the most basic ways seniors can keep active and healthy, especially during these stressful times. Elderly citizens who have a regular exercise routine have lower rates of mortality from all sorts of diseases. Exercise has been proven to help fight arthritis, hypertension, and even dementia.
According to the World Health Organization, older adults should engage in moderate activity 150 minutes per week. They also suggest that seniors should do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week.
Brain Training Games
Our brain is just like any other muscle in our body, and the more you exercise it, the more your mind will stay sharp.
As we age, we sometimes find ourselves becoming a little bit forgetful. Although frequent forgetfulness or memory loss can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, it is also a normal sign of aging. We can’t prevent our aging process, but we can slow down the brain aging process by keeping our brain active.
Crosswords have been popular among seniors for decades. You can easily find them online, in book format, or in the daily newspaper. The game requires you to apply spatial reasoning, recall, and word association skills. As crosswords help seniors’ association skills (they need to match the clues with the word that fits the field), they can help fight symptoms of dementia.
Believe it or not, bingo is more than just a fun activity for seniors. Research has shown that bingo has multiple health benefits for the elderly. The game improves concentration, listening, and short-term memory. Additionally, bingo promotes socialization, which is crucial for maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle.
As concentration and listening skills are required to play bingo, the game sharpens cognitive abilities. Research carried out by the University of Southampton revealed that bingo players had significantly better results in terms of memory, speed, and cognitive function than non-players.
Due to the speed and repetitive nature of the game, many older adults have shown hand-eye improvement, including seniors with dementia.
In spring and summer, cultivating a garden is a great purposeful activity for seniors. A blooming garden is enchanting and pleasing to all the senses. Apart from making your home cozy, gardening also has many health benefits – it can be great natural therapy for seniors.
A garden keeps seniors active, healthy, and strong as they grow older. Gardening requires fine and gross motor skills including walking, standing tolerance, squatting, and manipulation of tools and plants.
According to a recent study, horticultural therapy has many health benefits for the elderly. It is effective in improving sleep, agitation, and cognition in seniors suffering from dementia.
Fresh air and sunshine can clear the senses. As plants release oxygen in the air, spending time close to plants provides seniors with improved oxygenation. And, spending time in sunlight can increase vitamin D levels. Vitamin D increases calcium levels in our body, which strengthens the bones and boosts the immune system.
Engage in Creative Arts
There are many different ways to create art. Drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, playing music – these are only a few examples of creative outlets.
Studies have confirmed that art therapy, music therapy, and other creative activities, can positively affect individuals by producing psychological and physiological healing.
Creating art allows older adults to expand their minds and see things from a new perspective. The act of creating can stimulate the senses and trigger long-forgotten memories. And so, seniors dealing with memory loss can benefit from being creative.
Artwork can increase coordination as it requires small and purposeful movements. This can lead to less pain and an enhanced immune system in the long run. For instance, art forces seniors to concentrate on the creative process, and therefore they focus less on their aches and pains.
As we age we start to feel lonely. People around you move or pass away, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to leave the house and engage in activities we used to love.
Pets are a great source of comfort and companionship for seniors. They can also reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase physical activity.
Structuring our days becomes more important when we retire, and without a purpose, the risk of depression rises. Caring for a pet can help seniors keep a good routine, and provide a sense of purpose. Seniors aged 65 and over should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week, so owning a pet can help keep them physically active.
As pets provide companionship and exercise, it is no surprise that senior pet-owners have a decreased level of anxiety. Animals often engage in physical contact and have a great sense of appreciation which makes us feel loved. Studies show that owning a pet can help lower the stress hormone (Cortisol), while at the same time can boost serotonin levels too.
You deserve to spend your golden years relaxing, learning something new, and enjoying the retirement you worked so hard for. Retirement can be the beginning of a whole new life chapter if you choose to be active, positive, and creative.
Photo by Behzad Ghaffarian on Unsplash