For young adults life can be very stressful. This is the time to lay the foundation for their careers, start a family and so on. Taking care of health issues is often not a priority. Unfortunately, many problems quietly develop and progress during these years and remain unnoticed and untreated for too long.
Especially young adults should pay close attention to their weight, diet, physical fitness, stress level and sleep. Neglecting any of these will eventually come to haunt them.
Women in particular are at risk of gaining weight and developing heart disease. Those who try balancing careers and family life often push themselves too hard – at the expense of their health. Healthy eating, exercise, stress management and sleep hygiene should be placed on the top of their priority list.
Men also fall off the proverbial wagon quite easily. At young adulthood, males are inclined to overestimate their limitations. Many are unaware of their health needs or lack the basic knowledge how to meet those. They may feel invincible now, but the bill eventually will come due. It would be better to be pro-active, while there is time.
Generally, men tend to develop heart disease sooner than women, even when they manage to stay within a healthy weight range. The risk of heart disease increases with weight gain for both sexes. The typical male weight gain pattern is more troublesome, however, because men usually store fat around the belly and the waist, which is where most of the vital organs are located. For this reason, men are more vulnerable to a number of diseases in connection with weight gain, such as atherosclerosis, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, insulin resistance and hypertension. By contrast, females store their fat more likely around the hips and are less prone to suffer similar consequences − until they get older.
Around age 40, most adults begin to contemplate more often their own mortality. This can be a turning point, also known as the proverbial “midlife-crisis.” During this time, priorities are re-examined and commitments can change in sometimes unforeseeable ways. Boredom, loss, regrets and search for new meaning may come to the forefront.
It is also a time when good health can no longer be taken for granted. Hypertension, diabetes or climbing blood cholesterol may be noted during a routine annual physical. Some adults encounter for the first time serious health problems, which can impact the rest of their lives.
Regular physical exams and blood cholesterol screening can help identify problems early, so effective treatments can be initiated while there is time. Preventive medical attention can help reduce the likelihood of irreversible heart damage.
At this age, it is especially important to maintain a health-promoting diet as well as regular physical activity. Monitoring calorie and fat intake is a must. So is cutting back on sugar and salt. Alcohol consumption should be kept at moderate levels and smoking should be completely out of the question. There is still plenty of fun left for the middle-age crowd – they just may have to look elsewhere.
Senior adult years
As we get older, lifestyle changes occur naturally. However, it is important for both physical and mental health to continue a full and active life, even in retirement. Healthy aging means foremost maintaining good health for as long as possible − by eating properly and by staying fit. That includes reducing calorie intake to adjust to changes in the metabolism.
Sports and physical activities should be pursued in an age-appropriate manner. Those who have never run a Marathon before should not consider it as a retirement hobby. Accepting one’s own limitations is part of the wisdom gained with old age. Efforts to stay healthy should not so much focus on age defiance, but rather on health preservation. There is a difference.
A major concern in the senior years is the heart. Fatal and near-fatal heart attacks are more likely to occur at age 65 and older. The risk factors of heart disease are similar to those of younger people, but the damage can be more severe due to the overall aging process.
For older people who live alone, it can be difficult to maintain a heart healthy diet. Many seniors don’t know how to cook, don’t have the space for a functioning kitchen, or don’t have easy access to quality food outlets. This can be a serious problem. Nutritional deficiencies make the aging process only worse. Relatives, neighbors and friends should keep an eye on older people to keep them from becoming undernourished.
Elder adult years
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004, 12 percent (36.3 million) of all Americans were over 65. By the mid-century, people 65 and older will comprise an impressive 21 percent (86.7 million) of the American population. The number of people living over eighty, ninety and even a hundred years is growing dramatically year after year.
Not only physical health, but also mental and emotional health are to be considered when people live that long.
The goal now is to maintain good health in terms of mobility and independence. Staying active and involved in the life of family and community are important. Living in isolation is not healthy at any age, but it is especially devastating for the aging.
The nutritional needs of elder adults can be more difficult to meet. The digestive system has slowed down and nutrient absorption is reduced. Protein, calcium, iron, B-vitamins and a number of trace minerals may need to be increased in the diet to counterbalance the lower absorption. Nutritional supplements, like a daily multivitamin and calcium, will cover many of the gaps and avoid nutritional deficiencies. Extra protein intake with slightly larger portions of fish, lean meats, skinless poultry, beans and legumes can also help.
Care givers must be aware of the different nutritional requirements of elderly people. There is no point in serving up heavy meals or fatty and sugary foods – just because you mean well and want to give grandma or grandpa a special treat. Small and slow is the right approach and it honors the body’s natural path.