Nine healthy habits for seniors

Healthy habits for seniors include eating nutritional foods

It’s never too late to make big—or small—changes to keep your health on track as you age. Here are some tips for improving or maintaining your health throughout your lifetime.

Maintain a healthy weight.

First of all, what is a healthy weight for seniors? That can vary from person to person.

Many older adults are at risk of being underweight. Maybe they can’t access enough food, or enough nutrient-rich foods, or perhaps it’s because of an illness or disease.

But being overweight or obese comes with its own risks, too. Extra weight can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. As you age, you may burn fewer calories, especially if you’re not hitting the gym like you used to. That may mean you need to eat fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight.

Talk to your health care provider to figure out the right weight for your body and your lifestyle.

Eat a balanced diet.

Your digestive system slows with age, and you likely need fewer calories. That’s why it’s more important than ever to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are high in fiber and full of vitamins and minerals.

Eat more fruits and vegetables in a range of colors; whole grains; low-fat dairy; seafood and lean meats; and beans and seeds. Eat less sugary foods; foods with butter or shortening; and white bread, rice, or pasta made with refined grains.

Check out this guide for older adults on how to use nutrition facts labels to make smarter eating choices.

Get moving (or keep moving).

Regular activity is important for preventing and managing chronic disease, especially among seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seniors should aim for:

  • Moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week
  • Muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups two or more days a week

Strength training can offer a number of benefits for older adults, including improving balance and sleep quality, and reducing symptoms of depression, osteoarthritis, and diabetes.

Keep an eye on your vision.

Regular eye exams are key to protecting your vision as you age. The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye checks starting at age 60. That’s when the risk for many eye diseases increase—including eye health problems that you may not notice right away. These include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, and glaucoma.

Did you know? WPS Medicare supplement insurance customers can access the EyeMed Vision Care discount program and pay no additional premiums or membership fees.* The program includes discounted services on eye exams at participating providers.

Stay safe behind the wheel.

Age-related vision change can often impact how well older adults drive, especially in certain conditions, like at night. Here are some tips from the American Optometric Association to stay safe when driving:

  • Use extra caution at intersections
  • Reduce your speed and limit yourself to daytime driving if you’re having trouble driving at night
  • Avoid wearing eyeglasses and sunglasses with wide frames or temples
  • Take a driving course for seniors

Stay hydrated.

As you age, your ability to sense when you’re thirsty—and when to grab a drink—decreases. Older adults have less water in their bodies than children and younger adults, too. That’s why the risk of dehydration increases as we age, and is a common reason seniors end up in the hospital.

Some tips for drinking enough fluids:

  • “Eight glasses of water per day” is a good rule of thumb, though some people need more or less, depending on their bodies and amount of activity.
  • Mix it up by adding fruit to water, or drinking milk or juice. Be sure to choose fat-free or low-fat milk and avoid juices that are high in sugar.
  • Build hydration into your daily routine by drinking water with every meal. Stretching out smaller sips throughout the day, rather than gulping full glasses all at once.

Boost your brain health.

There are many things you can do to keep your mind and memory sharp as you age. Exercise and proper nutrition can go a long way toward protecting your brain health. Mental exercise is just as important: join a book club, play cards or a puzzle app on your phone, or learn a new skill or hobby. Keep stress at bay through meditation, yoga, or massage. And make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

Recharge your batteries.

Take just a few minutes to check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. The CDC recommends changing the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector at least twice a year. Testing your smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries once a year.

Socialize and have fun!

Research shows that social activity among older adults is an important part of healthy aging. There is some correlation between social well-being and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer. On the other hand, loneliness can sometimes impact blood pressure, increase the risk for depression, and weaken the immune system.

Try volunteering, joining an interest group or club, taking a class, or going on a group tour of your city or a museum!

Are you part of our WPS Pen Pal Program yet? Send us a letter expressing your interest and we’ll connect you with a WPS employee you can correspond with. Get started by writing to:

WPS Health Insurance
Attn: MMS—Pen Pal
1717 W. Broadway
P.O. Box 8190
Madison, WI 53708-8190

*Vision program is not part of the insurance policy and is offered at no additional charge for membership. Enrollment in this program is subject to contract renewal. This is an advertisement for insurance. Neither Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation nor its agents are connected with the federal Medicare program.

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