Top 5 health tips for seniors according to experts

When it comes to the health of older adults, there is a pervasive narrative that older adults are in steady decline, that their best years are behind them, and that the road ahead will be fraught with health complications. But this presents a very, very narrow view. In fact, older age can bring some of the most fulfilling and fulfilling years of a person’s life, provided that person has prioritized a few aspects of their health, experts say.

Dr. Ronna New, geriatrician with Holston Medical Groupnotes that some conditions can be considered “normal aging” – for example changes in vision or hearing – but that there are many health complications that can be reduced or even avoided altogether.

“For example, falls are a significant risk, but staying physically active helps us stay strong as we age and also reduces the risk of falling,” she points out. “Memory loss is more likely to occur with age. However, staying mentally active by reading and learning new things is helpful, as is staying socially active and engaged with others.

Here, experts share the best senior health tips that caregivers can follow to help seniors prolong their good health (and prevent complications) through the years.

“Staying mentally active by reading and learning new things is helpful, as is staying socially active and engaged with others.

—Dr. Ronna New, geriatrician

Health tips for seniors

Studies have shown that having a primary care physician can significantly improve the health outlook of older adults — and that’s something New emphasizes.

There are certain risks as we age that can sometimes be reduced if a senior’s health care provider knows the process and risks of aging and can advise (seniors) on the best ways to reduce these risks , she explains. “As we age, it’s important to have a good relationship with a healthcare professional to discuss screenings and other preventative services recommended for older adults,” New adds.

2. Prioritize physical activity and focus knee and hip joint mobility

When an older person’s physical activity level decreases, it can often weaken the muscles surrounding the knees. The tissues therefore have to work harder, points out Dr. Fred Cushner, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. In this case, he says, “people with arthritis may experience more severe symptoms and those without arthritis may develop tendinitis.”

He notes that working on flexibility and range of motion in the knee and hip joints can improve quality of life. “Hip problems can lead to back problems,” says Cushner. “And flexibility is important for performing daily activities, like putting on your socks. Daily tasks become even more difficult if you lose flexibility in your knees.

He recommends that seniors ride a stationary bike to avoid putting too much pressure on the knee. “I recommend at least 15 to 20 minutes with a goal of 30 minutes three to four times a week,” says Cushner.

He also says that although older adults feel the need to take it slowly, it’s important that they feel some effort. Multitasking (think: reading a newspaper) is a no-no, as seniors need to focus on working out and sweating.

And as long as the senior doesn’t have severe arthritis in the knee, about 30 minutes of brisk walking a day can do wonders to support (a senior’s) health, advises Nancy Mitchell, a registered geriatric nurse and writer for THE Assisted Living Center.

According to experts, walking and stationary bike work aren’t the only activities designed to build strength and stability. Look at this roundup of exercises to try for seniors of all levels.

3. Prepare small meals rich in fiber and vegetables

As New explains, an older person’s digestive tract goes through changes in their later years, which also requires changes in the way they eat.

“Older people often do better small frequent meals or snacks throughout the day, as opposed to three big meals,” she says. “There are changes to our digestive system and the way we process food as we age, and many times older adults feel better when they eat smaller amounts of food more frequently.”

Additionally, Mitchell notes that digestive problems often stem from weakening intestinal muscles with age. But there is a useful solution. “Introduce more fiber into their diet,” she recommends. “Fiber crowding stimulates greater muscle contractions.”

Here are some foods rich in fiber to include in an elderly person’s diet:

  • groats
  • quinoa
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Berries

Furthermore, the National Council on Aging recommends a few other key nutrition tips for seniors:

  • Prioritize certain nutrients: Try incorporating lean proteins (like seafood, eggs, turkey, chicken, and tofu), fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products into a child’s diet. elderly person throughout the day. Here’s How to Determine an Appropriate Serving Size. MyPlate.gov also provides an easy-to-assess tool for estimating appropriate portion sizes.
  • Look at nutrition labels. Reach for low salt productssugar, fat and preservatives.
  • See if they might qualify for financial assistance for food. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) matches eligible seniors with local food banks. Learn more here.

Routine screenings can alert older adults to potential health problems, such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, prediabetes and heart disease.

—Tina M. Baxter, gerontological nurse practitioner

4. Plan for changes in taste perception and thirst

As New explains, an older person’s taste buds (and perception of thirst) will change as they age, so it’s important to change their eating and drinking habits as well.

“We tend to have less sense of thirst, as well as taste sensations, as we age,” she explains, adding that this makes it even more important to consume enough fluids throughout the day.

Although the amount a person should consume depends heavily on a number of factors (again, a primary care physician can help!), Mayo Clinic recommends about 3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 for women.

Dr. New also says it’s common for older adults to have a diminished taste for salt, leading them to continually reach for the shaker. His advice when a salt craving calls: Replace salt with lemon in dishes.

5. Stay informed about screenings and vaccinations

Routine screenings can alert to potential health problems in older adults, such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, prediabetes and heart disease, points out Tina M. Baxter, a certified gerontological nurse practitioner.

And some projections become even more important as the years go by, New points out. “For example, bone density scans are very important as we age because they can detect if bones are getting weaker,” she explains. “If osteopenia or osteoporosis is identified during a bone density test, steps can be taken to try to increase bone strength, which can help prevent fractures.”

While New emphasizes that the most important thing a senior can do is stay in communication with their primary care doctor about what screenings and vaccinations to prioritize, here are some common ones:

  • An annual eye exam. “Glaucoma and cataracts are common in older people. But you can prevent vision loss with early detection. An annual eye exam could save most patients from seriously compromised health,” says Mitchell.
  • A review of colorectal cancer. Risk increases with age, and the chances are even higher for older adults with a history of smoking, low-fiber diets, or untreated inflammatory digestive diseases, Mitchell says. All adults over the age of 45 at normal risk should expect a colonoscopy every 10 years or a CT colonography or flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years. (People over the age of 75 should discuss the benefits of an exam with their doctor.)
  • Breast examination (women). For women aged 65 to 74, aim for a mammogram every two years, CDC said. For people aged over 75, consult a doctor first.
  • Bone mineral density test. The American College of Obstetricians recommends that women begin having bone mineral density tests to look for signs of osteoporosis at age 65, and then again every 15 years if they are otherwise healthy. However, a doctor may recommend that an older person undergo more frequent testing if he or she deems it necessary.
  • Shingrix, Tdap vaccine, COVID, pneumonia and flu vaccines. Again, New emphasizes that caregivers work directly with primary care doctors to ensure a senior is up to date. “It is important to discuss not only the recommended vaccinations with a healthcare professional, but also the recommended schedule for each of them, as well as remember that some of them must be repeated, such as the annual vaccination against influenza. Here are the CDC general timeline for each of these vaccines.

Bottom line: Older people’s health doesn’t have to mean slowing down. There are many steps older adults can take – from keeping up with routine screenings to making regular exercise part of their routine – not only to avoid chronic health problems, but also to improve their physical health and mental.


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