by Shauna Dorko, Sidney SeniorCare –
As we settle into a fresh, new year, our thoughts move towards resolutions and goals for 2017 – many of them geared towards health and wellness. Who doesn’t want to feel the very best they can, especially in an age where superbugs, chronic disease and mental health issues seem more prevalent than ever?
It’s challenging at any age to avoid sickness, chronic fatigue, impaired mobility or a weakened immune system, but the degenerative process of aging can make us more susceptible to these conditions. For example: while we struggle to get rid of a stubborn winter cold, that same winter cold or flu for a senior has much more potential to turn into viral or bacterial pneumonia, or other complications including the worsening of an existing health issue such as asthma, heart disease, respiratory problems or anemia.
On the other hand, seniors today are changing standard perceptions of what it means to be “old.” They are more active, eat healthier, and are more aware of what it takes to maintain optimum wellness. As our senior population increases, so does our desire to stay healthy and active as long as we possibly can. Today’s seniors are living longer, due to not only improved medical care, but with improved knowledge, resources and understanding of how to reach old age with grace and health.
One thing we are all aware of is that our basic definition of health and wellness has changed; there is a current universal understanding that health and well-being is not only about the purely physical, but is comprised of a respectful balance of the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of health.
Yes, it is true that the health of seniors is influenced largely by taking care of existing medical conditions, eating properly and regular physical activity, but there are other aspects of overall wellness that are just as critical and often overlooked – a positive attitude, social activity, the maintenance of caring relationships with family and friends, engaging with and giving back to one’s community. Being accorded dignity and respect as an elder member of society also helps contribute to a sense of well-being, including the opportunity to share knowledge, have a purpose and make a difference.
As we age, our personal needs change. To ensure healthy aging and sustain wellness, seniors need to be able to maintain control over their personal lives, and to have choices in how they adapt to the changes that aging brings. Aging “in place” in the senior’s own home environment is considered vital to healthy aging, and improved home support services will ensure this trend continues well into the future.
Written in collaboration with Sherrin Griffin. We welcome all comments, suggestions and ideas for future columns. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Seniors” in the subject line.