Wellness and the state of being physically and socially active can help older adults to live longer, happier and more fulfilling lives. This is important because as people age, the likelihood of becoming socially isolated and physically unfit increases, which can lead to physical and mental illness.
Making the right lifestyle changes can be transformative for a person’s health. One study has found eating healthier and getting regular exercise drastically cuts the risk of diabetes for people aged over 60, while another found that even moderate exercise like a brisk walk reduces stress and anxiety and boosts the mood of older women.
It is important to note that wellness is not achieved through intense workouts and strict diets. Instead, wellness is physical, social, emotional and occupational wellbeing. It is finding personal satisfaction in daily tasks, interacting with other people regularly and being able to continue with an active lifestyle into old age. Actively pursuing wellness helps people to age better and retain their independence and zest for life.
So, encouraging wellness in older people is vital. If you have an older family member, you can help them by guiding them through daily physical and social activities. Regular physical activity is a great place to start. Walking and light exercise such as stretching and sit-ups are excellent for strengthening muscles and improving flexibility and balance. Being physically active also improves the state of mind as it shakes off lethargy and idleness.
Nurses can also help older people by outlining an exercise plan with realistic long-term goals. This plan could include different exercise activities for each day of the week. The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise each week for adults aged 65 and older. This exercise should be ‘moderate intensity’ exercise, which includes activities such as brisk walks, dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis, mowing the lawn and swimming. The CDC also advises older adults to stand on one foot for a brief period three times a week to improve balance.
If you really want to feel like you are making a difference by promoting wellness and helping older people on a daily basis, you can complete a Holy Family ABSN. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can apply for an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program today. This program will teach you the theories of ageing and help you to understand how specific physiological and psychological factors affect people as they get older.
Nurses can also promote wellness by encouraging older people to eat healthier foods as part of a balanced diet. Poor eating habits can increase the risk of diabetes and heart conditions as well as depression. Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals are important for people over 60 even as energy requirements decrease. Trying new cuisines and meals is also key to wellness as it broadens the mind. These meals can also double as social events with friends and family.
This is another element of wellness that is often overlooked. Social wellbeing can be just as important as physical fitness to wellness for older people as they are more likely to lose touch with people and become isolated after retiring. Spending time with others and creating new, happy memories in old age will reduce the chances of becoming lonely. You can encourage older people to remain socially active by helping them to take on new hobbies and by cultivating their interests in new areas such as sports or the arts.
Keeping in touch with family is important too. If you cannot visit someone in person, try to make video phone calls via Zoom or FaceTime on a regular basis. Older people can become detached and anxious if they do not see or talk to loved ones, especially if they no longer have a spouse at home. You can really boost their social interaction by urging them to volunteer to work or provide assistance to a charity or other cause, even if it is only once a week for a short period of time.
Being intellectually curious into old age can also sharpen the mind and help people to find deeper meaning in life. Whether that is through religion or voracious reading of fiction and non-fiction books, encouraging adults to better themselves and improve their knowledge can reduce the mental decline which is often associated with the later years of life. This is true for emotional wellness too. People that have a positive mindset and are aware and accept their feelings, both good and bad, are generally more able to be active and happy on a day-to-day basis.
Other aspects of wellness include personal identity and dignity. Older people have been independent of mind and spirit for a long time, unlike children, so they usually place a greater value on maintaining a sense of who they are. People around them can help with that by providing the support they need to make personal choices and decisions and to respect what they say and want to do.
Nurses providing care to older people can support a person’s independence and identity by giving them the opportunity to pick their own clothes, meals and activities during the day. Making sure their most valued possessions are close at hand can also put them at ease. The main thing is to respect a person’s beliefs and interests and to offer advice and assistance where necessary. Wellness for older people is often a case of everyone viewing them as a unique person with their own goals and desires.
Finally, sleep quality and rest are other components of wellness. Older people should get around seven hours of sleep each night and be able to take naps when necessary. This will reduce instances of tiredness and irritability and give adults the energy to embrace each day with a positive outlook. Taking regular tests for hearing and eyesight will also help people to retain their senses well into old age. By promoting all these aspects of wellness, people will have a better chance of living joyful, rewarding lives, even as they get older.