Spring is officially here, even if it doesn’t feel like it in Pennsylvania today! Pretty soon, we will turn our attention from shoveling snow and remembering our gloves, to whose barbecue we’ll be at this weekend and which pair of shorts to wear!
With a new season comes a new opportunity for you to make better decisions about your life and your health. Luckily, there are small changes that you can make in order to be healthier by summer!
Get Enough Sleep
You aren’t your best when you’re tired or groggy. You are irritable and have trouble focusing on everyday tasks. The bad news is that insomnia is very common for people at retirement age. The good news is that senior citizens need less sleep than younger adults (around 7 hours), according to a 2008 study.
If you’re having trouble getting to or staying asleep at night, try to avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol before bed. Also try to avoid working on the computer or watching television, as well as exercise. All of these things can stimulate your brain and keep you awake much longer. Try setting a goal bed time and aiming to get the correct, customized amount of sleep so that you feel perfectly rested!
Drink Enough Water
You’ve probably heard that it’s good to aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Well, that recommendation remains the same when you reach retirement age. Drinking the recommended amount of water per day has many health benefits, from weight control to healthier skin. But if you don’t love the boring taste of water, here are a few other ways to stay hydrated:
- Eat fruit
- Add fruit to your water for flavor
- Eat certain vegetables, such as cucumbers
- Drink Milk
Kick a Bad Habit
We’ve all got them. From sneaking our favorite cookies to smoking, there are plenty of habits that we develop that can have a negative effect on your health. But what do you gain by giving them up? It turns out that you get a lot. According to a 2012 study, “… A vibrant social life and quitting smoking can add five years to women’s lives and six years to men’s.”
That is five to six more years of growing your garden, celebrating birthdays with best friends, and watching grandchildren grow up. These are all things worth kicking your habits for! Whatever your vice, start small when removing it from your life. If necessary, consult the help of a doctor or a nutritionist who can help you make the right decisions for your health.
Add Super Foods to Your Diet
AARP recently came out with an article on “super foods.” These are foods that have an exceptional amount of nutrients and health benefits. The five foods that AARP highlighted were artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, arugula, and green peas. Explore your favorite recipes for ways to incorporate these super foods. And if this small list doesn’t sound very delicious, here is a list of 50 super foods that you can pile on your plate!
Protect Yourself From the Sun
The sun is a warm welcome after a winter filled with snowy days, but that doesn’t mean that the sun is always your friend. Seniors still need to protect their skin from harmful UV rays by choosing a broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection sunscreen with at least 15 SPF, but more is better! Check out this handy information from Bayhealth Medical Center on senior skin.
The small choices that you make each day can effect your health in big ways. Make the right choices and let this be the healthiest spring yet!
As a nice reminder to keep your heart healthy, February is American Heart Month. Heart disease can change your life in an instant, so it’s important to be informed about the risk factors and symptoms involved with problems like heart attack, coronary artery disease, pulmonary heart disease, and congestive heart failure.
Here is how the CDC defines heart disease:
“Heart disease is a term that includes several more specific heart conditions. The most common heart disease in the US is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaque.”
While heart disease is known to affect senior citizens, the CDC states that one in four deaths in the United States are due to heart disease. And while heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men, more than 50% of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were men. And for those who survive their ordeal with heart disease, there is still the risk of disability.
Here are some of the main risk factors for heart disease:
- Physical Activity
- Blood Pressure
- Alcohol Use
- Family History
Balancing a healthy diet, regular exercise, and managing your diabetes as suggested by your doctor are all great ways to lower your risk of heart disease. There are even some risk factors you may not even know about. For instance, according to AgingCare.com, “cardiovascular deaths spike by about 18 % [in the winter].” But with such prevalence in the U.S., how do you know when you are having a heart attack or suffering from another form of heart disease?
There are several kinds of heart disease, but they share many symptoms such as:
- Shortness of Breath
- Pain or a Heavy Feeling in Your Chest
- Increase in Heart Rate
Of course, these can also be symptoms of other issues or diseases, but if you truly think that you are having a heart attack, it’s important for you or a loved one to call 9-1-1. It’s important to act fast when every second counts.
If you have any questions about heart health, contact the medical care providers at Sherwood Oaks.
Summertime is full of wonderful opportunities to enjoy beautiful weather with friends and family. But with sunny days come some extra health risks for senior citizens. Plus, preexisting conditions such as heart disease and diabetes can make you extra prone to heat-related issues. Here are some things to keep in mind as you enjoy your summer!
Protect skin from the sun. You should wear sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. You can also choose to wear a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt. If you do happen to get a sunburn, soothe skin with aloe vera and take either aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.
Enjoy some cool treats. When the weather is sweltering, it can help to indulge in some sweet treats. There are plenty of iced options for those who have special dietary needs, such as sugar-free offerings. Some treats you should avoid? Anything including caffeine or alcohol.
Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated on hot days is crucial to being and feeling healthy. You should aim to drink at least 8, 8 oz. glasses of water each day. Not a fan of water? Sports drinks are also great for helping you stay hydrated.
Examine your medicines. Some medicines make you more sensitive to ultraviolet rays. Be sure to check the labels on your medications and check with your doctor about any precautions to take.
Wear sunglasses. Not only can the sun damage the skin on your eyes, but your actual corneas and lenses, too. To avoid any damage, you should look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
Watch for heat stroke. If you or someone else begins to feel nausea or dizziness, it may be heat stroke. If heat stroke begins, it is important to get this person in a cool area, have them lie down, remove any tight fitting clothes, apply ice packs and call for medical attention. Don’t take any chances!
Check in with friends and family. If you’re going to be doing an activity outside all day, be sure to stay cool and let friends and family know where you are. They will feel better knowing that you’re happy and safe.
Remember, if you are suffering from any heat-related problem, you can visit Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community’s health care center – located right on campus!