It’s no secret that as the aging population continues to mushroom worldwide, the focus on healthcare is also growing exponentially. Wellness is big business in the aging industry. But most of the emphasis thus far has been less on prevention than on addressing disease already in progress.
For instance, AARP’s Innovation Labs has brought a few new startups to life in the past 18 months, one of which, the “Let’s Be Well” box, contains “products and information to support people who have just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or who are taking steps to gain better control of their condition.” Additional boxes “could be created for other conditions, such as heart disease,” says AARP.
That’s all well and good, relatively speaking. But what about starting the wellness focus significantly sooner, before someone becomes ill?
Bringing the Unmentionable to Light
Awhile back, we discussed how elder behavior might seem like a rejection of an LO or the HECM, when in reality it has nothing to do with you, but with the senior’s health or another issue that’s impacting their mental/emotional state.
As we age, one common health concern that can affect how people feel is what commercials euphemistically refer to as “regularity.” Along with death and money, bodily waste is a great taboo topic. Yet the willingness to acknowledge and discuss this important subject can help ease physical functioning for a senior.
And, increased well being generally makes someone more receptive to thinking about other important subjects, such as a reverse mortgage. It’s difficult to focus on finances when one’s body is hurting. So let’s begin here.
Elimination is the end stage of digestion. When our bodies are working optimally, this is effortless. As we age, our bodies lose the ability to regulate fluid, which means it’s easier to become dehydrated. Dehydration in turn makes elimination more difficult. At the same time, reduced kidney function may lead to more frequent urination, and further dehydration.
While one can take medication (true for almost every condition) to address this issue, it’s far more effective to deal with what needs to exit the body by beginning with what enters the body.
One simple solution is drinking the right amount of water at the right times:
- A.M. 2 glasses of pure (i.e., filtered, not tap) water upon awakening helps activate internal organs. If a senior is motivated, they might squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon into the water. Lemon water is an excellent way to start the day, offering multiple health benefits.
- Before a meal. One glass of pure water 30 minutes before eating helps aid digestion. No one should guzzle liquids with the meal, however; that will dilute the digestive fire. Sipping water while you eat is OK.
- Before bed. Drinking a glass of water half an hour before bed allows the kidneys time to release what’s not needed, and may help prevent leg cramps and reduce heart attack risk.
For many people, regardless of age, the colon functions more like a semicolon: a pause awaiting another clause. But that “clause” isn’t available, because the system is down. It’s physically quite uncomfortable to be sentenced to an incomplete sentence.
Staying hydrated is a good start. Seniors should also know the correct position for optimal elimination. It’s supposed to be a squat, not a strain. Adding a small footstool puts one’s body in the correct position, unkinking the hose, so to speak.
Slowing the Aging Process
Effective elimination can go a long way towards rejuvenating someone in body, mind, and spirit. Other simple changes seniors (or anyone, of any age) can make today for a healthier tomorrow, far beyond AARP’s “boxed” thinking, include:
- Appropriate exercise. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), while popular, may or may not be suitable for a senior, depending on someone’s age and degree of fitness — though it is a powerhouse at the cellular level. Of course, anyone ought to check with a health professional before beginning a new exercise program.
- Skipping sugar, which destroys skin collagen, accelerating aging.
- Reducing exposure to environmental pollutants, which shorten telomeres.
- Saying goodbye to chronic stress, which elevates inflammation — the underlying cause of all disease.
- Getting a bone density scan. When it comes to bones, being dense is a good thing. And now it seems a bone density scan does more than reveal the risk of a fracture: it can also be an early warning sign for cardiovascular disease.
- Enjoying community. I’ve long been fascinated by the people of Greek Island Ikaria, who tend to live to a very old age in good health. The Mediterranean diet has something to do with it, true. But beyond olive oil and wine, it’s social.
Wellness may be big business as the nation grows older. But that doesn’t mean seniors can’t take their health, like their finances, well in hand, by making smart choices for long-term positive results.