Today, more people of all ages are recognizing how mind, body, and spirit are connected. This holistic approach to living carries with it many benefits for young and old alike. Encouraging your older loved one to embrace a more holistic approach to senior living is a beautiful way to not only demonstrate how much you care about someone but also to help them improve their quality of life. Holistic living is all about honoring the fact that we are more than simply the sum of our parts, and acknowledging the needs of one’s whole self. Let’s look at three ways your senior loved one can do just that.
Our bodies are meant to move, and that doesn’t change as we age. In so many ways, regular movement becomes a cornerstone of overall good health the older we get — and this doesn’t necessarily mean physically exhausting exercises. What it means is choosing movement over lethargy: taking steps instead of the elevator, walking someplace instead of driving, dancing more, gardening, playing with grandkids and pets. It’s important to remember that regular movement and activity aren’t just good for the body; they’ve been shown to elevate mood and stave off depression, something that seniors often experience. Staying able-bodied and active can lead to happiness that penetrates every aspect of one’s life.
The importance of mindful eating and maintaining a healthy diet can’t be overstated. Mindfully eating means paying attention to what nourishment your body needs and how it responds to the food you put into it. Mindful eating also asks why you eat. Is your senior loved one eating out of boredom or loneliness? Are they eating because they’re dealing with sadness or grief? Identifying and addressing the root causes of unhealthy eating habits and making sure there are plenty of wholesome and healthy food choices available to your loved one can help them see the benefits of nourishment both physically and emotionally.
Humans are social beings and need a connection to others for companionship and friendship. Staying socially connected can instill a sense of belonging and security and can alleviate anxiety, depression, and other mental stressors. Regular and meaningful interactions with others have also been shown to:
- Lead to an increase in longevity
- Strengthen the immune system
- Enable quicker recovery from disease and possibly injury
Many seniors live isolated lives. If your loved one spends too much time alone, either by choice or circumstance, try to visit with them more often or arrange for companionship care. If they’re able-bodied and independent enough, encourage them to socialize more. Suggest volunteer opportunities, social activities, or worship services as ways for your senior to enjoy more engagement with others.
As we age, the quality of our sleep tends to deteriorate. This is due in part to changes in our sleep-wake circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that’s part of the body’s internal clock. Health issues such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis can also compromise a good night’s sleep. Because older adults are often diagnosed with more than one health condition and may be on medications that interfere with sleep, seniors are at increased risk of not getting enough. Below are a few ways family members can encourage their loved one to improve their sleep:
- Eat a healthy breakfast: eating a wholesome breakfast helps sync up our internal clock, whereas skipping breakfast can lower energy and increase stress, factors that can disrupt sleep.
- Avoid long naps: long afternoon naps might feel good, but they can interfere with our ability to sleep later at night—limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
- Don’t go to bed too early: giving in to nighttime drowsiness too soon can mean waking up later in the night and having trouble getting back to sleep. Do something mildly stimulating, such as washing dishes or calling a friend (more social interaction!) to stave off sleepiness until bedtime.
In the end, living more holistically is really all about making small changes in life that can lead to meaningful differences.
To find out more information about how your senior loved one can embrace a more holistic approach to senior living, reach out to Senior Care Authority today!