3 Ways Seniors Can Protect Their Health

Health is important at every age. Make sure you are paying attention to these 3 areas of your health. In addition to things like heart disease, cancer, and other diseases make sure you pay attention to your dental, vision, and getting enough physical exercise to stay as healthy as possible through the lifespan.

Guest Post: By Jason Lewis from www.StrongWell.org

Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in people over 65, and quality of life and quality of care play a big part in how these serious medical concerns will impact you. That’s why seniors who want to live their healthiest life in their golden years need to understand the power —  and the limitations — of their healthcare plan. 

For example, Traditional Medicare won’t cover vision, dental and prescription medications, and it’s coverage of in-home care is limited. That’s why many seniors enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. Provided by private health insurance companies, Medicare Advantage gives seniors peace of mind with more comprehensive coverage. For example, these plans offer coverage for vision, dental, wellness programs, prescription drugs and fitness centers.  Let’s take a closer look at how this healthcare coverage can address common concerns for people 65 and older.

Dental Health Over 65

Doctors provide compelling evidence that links dental health to a plethora of other health concerns, from depression to heart disease. These rates and risks spike substantially for seniors, which is why many add this coverage to their traditional Medicare plan. For example, some medications have negative side effects for oral health, like dry mouth and even cavities. Gum disease is also a major concern for older adults. Since many people don’t feel pain or discomfort until gum disease is in its advanced stages, many seniors don’t realize they have it. The dental coverage in Medicare Advantage plans vary from annual cleanings to more comprehensive treatments, including reducing out-of-pocket expenses associated with partial and full dentures. If it’s been over a year since your last cleaning, you should find a dentist and schedule a checkup. 

Seniors and Vision Health

Eyesight is a common concern for seniors, as there are certain kinds of vision diseases and disorders that happen due to age. It’s natural for our vision to change as we age, so it’s natural for seniors to need vision care even though they may have spent the majority of their lives with healthy eyesight. Some common age-related vision conditions include presbyopia (difficulty focusing), cataracts (clouding of the lens), glaucoma (build up of fluid) and macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in seniors). Medicare Advantage plans give seniors an opportunity to maintain their eye health and see specialists when something feels off, without having to worry about covering the full cost of an expensive procedure.

Fitness for Seniors

Physical activity is one of the leading ways seniors can positively impact their physical and mental health. And, the good news is, it’s never too late to start. If you have lived a relatively sedentary life, you may think that working out now won’t help much. But it’s time to think again. Exercise now can not only prevent major illness and injury, but in some cases it can even undo some of the damage caused in your younger years. There have been many documented cases of seniors being able to reverse their type 2 diabetes diagnosis just through diet and exercise. With Medicare Advantage plans, many seniors get access to Silver Sneakers programs, which are special fitness classes aimed at people 65 and over. You can also get free memberships to thousands of gyms and fitness centers across the country.

Medicare is so complex; it’s no wonder some seniors shy away from understanding it. Grateful even for basic coverage, they sign up for it but their interest stops there. And it’s not surprising — Medicare is confusing, complicated and challenging. But if you want to be in control of your physical and mental well-being, knowing what is (and isn’t covered) is exactly where you need to start. Knowing the gaps in your coverage can help you decide if you need more help. 

Finding a Workout Tribe

Working out alone has its benefits and its struggles. Many people prefer working out with a tribe.

Find your tribe by considering what type(s) of workouts do you like to do? What time of day? Where – inside, outside, a class, a small group? Then begin participating in the activities you like where others who like the same activity are.



At first it may feel awkward and weird – remember you might the new person in class, however stick with it and give relationships a little time to develop. It’s also important to put yourself out there at times.

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If you are hanging in the corner making it impossible for others to get to know you, guess what – they won’t. Make sure you smile, make eye contact, and say hello on a regular basis. Making friends takes time and hopefully your time for socializing is limited by the time and effort you put in sweating.

Here’s a little help in case making new friends is the tough part.

If you liked this post try these: engaging your family and friends in your workouts or What to consider when choosing a workout partner.

80/20 Diet Rule: Staying on Track – Exercise is only ½ the battle, you’ve got to keep focused on healthy eating, too:

Remember – the nutritional part of maintaining a healthy weight is about 80% of the battle. While exercise matters for quality of life, ability to live well into our older years, and feeling alive, it’s only about 20% of losing/gaining weight. This is because exercise is good at helping us use up calories (aka stored fat) but only if we aren’t putting more into storage.

In addition, exercise often creates more hunger – because you are using more calories you need more fuel. If you are eating your fuel via junk food you are only filling your tank with junk. The body then struggles to help you rebuild tissue and have what it needs to make sure you are strong and ready for your next workout.

Planning your meals and making sure to follow the 80/20 rule when choosing foods is important. Here 80% of the time you are on track for your goals (weight loss, maintenance, or gain) and 20% of the time you eat what you want. This can be looked at according to the hour, day, week, etc.

Check out E-Meals for help making healthy meal planning easy!

If you are following the 80/20 rule on food and making good, healthy, whole food, nutrient dense choices, you can be pretty sure your also following the 80/20 rule when it comes to the way diet and exercise work together to create a healthy weight for you.

This video goes over a case study of someone who works a lot, isn’t able to find the time to exercise, and is starting to have physical problems as a result of being about 100lbs overweight. He outlines where to start and how to stick with it.

If you liked this article – check out these:

More on food choices: Eat Well, Feel Well or making sure your workouts are fun and interesting: Cycling Your Workouts.

Photo Credit: Diet Quotes

Winter Outside Activity Ideas

Here’s some ideas for those of you who live in snow country.  Are you starting to feel a bit of cabin fever?  Many of us without snow still feel cabin fever about this time, so what can we do to beat the pent up feeling?  Get outside and enjoy winter of course! (For those not living in snow you can do your favorite year-round outdoor activities but getting outside can still help the winter blahs)

Walking:

Even if you take a few turns around your yard, driveway, block, or neighborhood, you’ll feel better after being outside even if briefly.

Nordic Walking:

This is a small twist on our basic walking routine. You just add poles. This helps increase your caloric expenditure and I find it more engaging than just walking.

Cross Country Skiing:

Hook yourself up to some boards, grab some poles, and go! Cross Country skiing is one of the best aerobic exercises out there, and we have great trails just minutes from you. Many golf courses sport cross country skiing in the winter. Since both your arms and legs are moving you’ll create a huge calorie burn! There is a reason this is called the great-grandparent of all skiing.

Snow Shoeing:

If you can walk you can snowshoe! Strap on the much lighter and easier to use designs of today and get hiking. Again, you can find great trails within minutes, and you can use your shoes in a variety of snows. It is peaceful, relaxing, and a great way to get your heart pumping during winter.

Down Hill Skiing and Snowboarding:

Alpine or Downhill skiing and snowboarding are direct descendants of cross country skiing. Great lessons in physics and energy, downhill and snowboarding are other great ways to enjoy a winter workout and our beautiful area while being active.

Sledding:

Sliding downhill is a great winter sport. Its a cool way to pay off the uphill hike ! Plus it gets you to repeat over and over. Use caution and common sense as many injuries are a result of sledding. This is a cheap and easy way to enjoy quality family time and the outdoors.

Ice Skating:

Gliding across the frozen pond, twirling, and gaining speed, how graceful, or imagine a fast game of hockey chasing a puck across the frozen water with intensity and great friends. Broomball comes in next – Heart pounding, easy to learn, and we have a rink in every neighborhood!

Curling:

When I explained this sport to folks in the south they were a bit perplexed. They never really got it. It could have been my explanation, but they kept getting stuck on rocks and sweeping – they never made the connection.

Ice Fishing:

Ok, this is only a workout depending on your preference for movement. Where did you park, how did you get to your spot, what will you be doing while you are fishing? The answers to your questions will determine what type of exercise this is, but if you park and hike in, and limit your fishing activities to fishing, it can be a great workout hauling things out and back and a wonderful way to enjoy a winter day.

Ice Climbing:

Looking for a great adventure – try ice climbing. This is the winter version of rock climbing, and once again there is great ice around here! Grab a buddy and take a class you’ll be hooked and ready to yell “climb on”.

Lose cabin fever by heading outside. I bet you can come up with more outside activities, so get moving and enjoy our winter days before they are gone for another year. Happy adventures!

10 Ways to Add More Activity to Your Day

Here are 10 Ways to Add More Activity To Your Day:

1) Park and Walk
2) Take the Stairs
3) Play with your children or other people’s children
4) Walk the dog
5) Take a stretch break every 90 minutes – get up from your desk and do a couple of simple stretches
6) Pace with you are on the phone
7) Carry your own groceries out
8) Make your lunch or break an active one – replace a sedentary meal with an exercise routine and smaller lunch – if you sit down and eat healthy following a workout you might enjoy it more than a long, sedentary, routine eating habit
9) Each time you go to sit down do a squat first – Act like you are going to sit down but when your butt hits the chair stand back up. By the end of the day you’ll have done a whole set!
10) Add some intensity to your house cleaning routines. When picking up around the house add lunges, squats, and rows to your chores. If you are feeling really good add some jumps or run stairs.

Get creative about your movement and watch your energy rise, your sleep get better, and your motivation to move grow!*

*no guarantees, though 🙂