Amada Senior Care is committed to enriching the lives of seniors, and we believe the following three things are vital to seniors living happier, healthier lives.
1. An Aging Plan
Most seniors take steps to ensure they have a will in place should anything happen to them. However, only 25 percent of Americans have recorded their end-of-life medical wishes in a legal document. The problem with this is that more than half of patients are unable to participate in end-of-life decisions when they need to be made. The solution to this is creating an Advance Directive for healthcare, which can easily be completed by a healthcare professional.
An Advance Directive will ask an individual to address whether they want to accept or refuse life-saving treatments such as CPR, breathing machines, and feeding tubes. It also allows a person to detail whether they’d like to receive pain medications and whether they prefer to donate organs or tissues. It can serve as a power of attorney for healthcare, and allow a person to appoint an agent on their behalf. If a patient is unable to make a decision at the time of treatment, an Advance Directive gives the doctor a road map that allows them to know the patient’s wishes and who to talk to about treatment decisions.
When creating an aging plan, you should consider your financial options. At some point, even the healthiest seniors will likely begin to have trouble performing activities of daily living (ADLs). Being financially prepared for the cost of long-term care can be a lifesaver; otherwise a senior’s (or their loved one’s) life savings can be quickly exhausted, creating more financial troubles. At Amada Senior Care, expert senior advisors can assist you or your loved one in navigating the options available for funding care. We can help you unlock a long-term care insurance policy, apply for veterans’ benefits, and more.
An aging plan should also include housing options. Many seniors say it would be ideal to “age in place” in their own home; however, it may not always be the safest option. While it may be convenient and cost-effective for a senior to move in with a family member, the caregiving responsibilities can quickly become a burden physically, mentally, and financially. An in-home caregiver from Amada allows a senior to age in place at home and receive assistance with ADLs. Another option is an assisted living or skilled nursing community for those needing more medical care or round-the-clock assistance. Amada offers senior housing advisory services to help seniors find the best living options for them.
2. A Healthy Lifestyle
As seniors age, the number of health risks they face increases. Heart disease – including hypertension, vascular disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease – is the most widespread condition for seniors and the number one cause of death for those over 60. Other top health risks for seniors include cancer, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s or dementia. These health issues may be due to old age or heredity, but often times they can be prevented by a healthy diet and exercise.
It’s never too late for someone to start eating a healthy diet that includes high-quality protein, lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, and high dietary fiber. It’s also important to avoid processed foods with excess sugar and bad carbohydrates. Exercise has been proven to not only improve physical health, but also mental health. Seniors should include exercises that improve endurance, strength, flexibility and balance in their regimen, while being careful to modify any exercise that is painful or too difficult. Regular exercise will help seniors maintain independent lifestyles. To maintain energy, seniors should remember to drink plenty of water and get adequate amounts of sleep (seven to eight hours) every night.
Many seniors visit the doctor when they are sick to get healthy again, but it’s just as important to schedule regular preventive care visits. Preventive care includes regular exams, check-ups, vaccines, and screenings. While regular doctor visits may seem costly now, they more than pay off in the long term by saving money, worry, and time in the future. Any warning signs of disease can be caught early with preventive care, and vaccines protect seniors’ weakened immune systems against harmful infections and viruses.
The effects of aging can make it difficult for seniors to get out and stay socially engaged with friends and family. Isolation can have devastating effects on not only emotional health, but physical health as well. Some of the risks of social isolation include loneliness and depression, being less physically active, high blood pressure, and a greater risk of death. While some cases cannot be avoided, dementia and depression can be avoided by keeping the mind stimulated with social interaction. A recent study from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center found that seniors who are highly social have a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline than their less social peers.
There are several ways for seniors to stay socially engaged besides maintain close personal relationships with family and friends. Senior centers offer clubs, classes, and many other opportunities for seniors to socialize with each other. Seniors who like to travel can find a senior-friendly travel package. Finding a new hobby or rediscovering an old one can give you the opportunity to meet others. Finding a job or volunteering in the community is great for socialization, and can also give seniors a sense of purpose. Staying socially engaged almost always requires that seniors and their loved ones be proactive and look for opportunities, but the physical and mental health benefits are worth it.
“Three Things Every Senior Needs,” Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.