Several recently published studies on aging all seem to lead to the same conclusion: when it comes to diet and lifestyle choices, older adults are well advised to practice moderation. Whether it concerns weight management, physical activity, or alcohol and tobacco use, health experts urge people to consider their limitations and changing needs as they approach their senior years.
Much has been written in recent years about the blessings of life after work and parenting. Aging baby boomers were told that the best was still to come if they only kept dreaming big. What was traditionally considered a time of well-deserved rest and leisure now became “the power years,” where people could finally realize their true potential. But clearly not everyone has bought into this concept. There is a new yearning for rest among today’s older adults, although not quite in the same way their predecessors envisioned it.
Two-thirds of today’s Medicare beneficiaries suffer from multiple chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, and pulmonary problems. The sickest among them, about four million, or 15 percent, account for almost half of the medical costs. Much of these expenses could be reduced with diet and lifestyle improvements.
One of the most dramatic consequences of age-related deterioration is loss of independence, and it is more feared by seniors than almost any other outcome. For many, even an untimely death seems preferable to becoming beholden to others. Not only do most older adults not want to become a burden to their loved ones, they also plan to live out their days in their own homes instead of entering a retirement facility.
All therapy is about change. Whether someone seeks professional advice or follows a self-help program, the underlying assumption is always that something is wrong and needs fixing. In my line of work, as a health counselor, it’s usually about diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, etc. that could be improved upon. But when I find myself coaching clients how to overcome their shortcomings, I often wonder why there is so little attention being paid to what is right and works well in their lives already.
Lack of social connections can be as harmful to people’s well-being as suffering from diseases, stress, or poverty, and can even reduce life expectancy. Loneliness and isolation are not only on the rise among the elderly but growing parts of the general population as well. Paradoxically, neither the Internet nor social media – designed to promote communication and connectedness – seem to be able to mitigate these trends, according to several recent studies on the importance of social interactions for good health.
People who meditate regularly over long periods of time in their lives suffer smaller age-related decreases in brain volume than those who don’t, according to a new study on the long-term effects of practices like transcendental meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other relaxation techniques.