Welcome to 2021! As we look back on 2020 (a year most of us are happy to leave behind), we can also look forward to a better 2021. We all hope to be able to move about more safely and regularly visit with friends and family again at some point during the coming year. Now is the perfect time to focus on a healthy lifestyle, which will not only help combat the winter blues, but will support your spirits as we enter what we all hope are the last months of the pandemic.
After age 50, we all need to pay closer attention to what we eat and how we keep moving around to stay limber and balanced. Healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated, here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind:
- Fruits | 3–5 servings (one serving = one small peach, ¼ cup dried fruit, ½ cup sliced apples)
- Vegetables | 2–4 cups leafy vegetables (spinach, kale)
- Protein | 5–7 servings lean protein (one serving = one egg, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 tbsp peanut butter)
- Grains | 5–10 servings (one serving = one small bran muffin, ¼ cup brown rice, 1 slice whole wheat bread)
- Dairy | 3 servings (one serving = one cup milk, one cup yogurt)
- Oil | 6–8 servings (one serving = ¼ cup avocado, 1 tsp olive oil, 8 olives)
- Sugar & Solid fats | Keep to a minimum (chips, cookies, animal fats)
- Eat fish 2x per week
- Drink plenty of water (at least 64 ounces)
- Limit caffeine & alcohol intake
If you are caregiving for older adults, here are some tips for making meals and snacks easier:
- If the person has a hard time using a knife and fork, serve finger foods. Try bite-sized pieces of sandwich, meat, or cut-up fruit or veggies.
- Serve one or two foods at a time. Too many choices can be overwhelming.
- If chewing or swallowing is a problem, mash, puree, or moisten foods with broth, sauce, or milk.
- Add flavor to meals with spices and herbs.
- If salt is an issue, there are many salt-free spice blends that add flavor to any dish.
- To reduce salt use, add salt AFTER food is cooked – you’ll use less because you’ll be able to taste it more.
- Put out bowls of nuts and fruit to encourage snacking.
- Serve nutritional supplement drinks or smoothies with protein powder and fruits.
Vitamins and minerals are important for keeping our emotional, mental, and physical well-being in balance, and needs do change over time. As we age, other nutritional supplements may also be needed. Check with your doctor about what supplements are right for you and your loved ones:
- Fiber to stay regular
- Potassium for blood pressure and to help avoid fatigue and depression
- Healthy fats to lower chances of heart disease
- Vitamin B12 for energy and brain function
- Vitamin D and Calcium for bone health
- Iron to help keep red blood cells healthy
Exercise benefits people of all ages, but as we get older it becomes even more important to keep moving. Create a weekly exercise routine that includes some walking, swimming, biking, yoga, or other gentle movement five times a week. Just 15-30 minutes per day, five days a week, will make a big difference. Be sure to include strength and flexibility exercises as part of the routine. The benefits of exercise for those over 50 includes:
- Increased mental capacity: Research links physical activity with slower mental decline. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including our brain.
- Disease prevention: Exercise is beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise can also delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more.
- Improved healing capacity: Injuries can take longer to heal as people age. Regular exercise may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25 percent.
- Increased balance Exercise can help improve balance, which can help prevent falls. Falls are a major cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disability and hospitalization in older adults.
If you or your senior loved one needs assistance with food preparation, mobility, and medication reminders, Assisting Hands Home Care serving Columbus, OH can help. Give us a call today for a free consultation.