For older adults who are homebound due to illness, injury, or mobility limitations, life may not be as full and exciting as it once was. However, by practicing healthy habits of the body and mind, homebound seniors can still enjoy a good quality of life. Below are six tips you or a loved one can use to stay happy and healthy at home.
1. Move around the house
Regular light exercise provides increased energy levels, a better mood, more relaxation, and can lead to better sleep. Taking small walks around the house or backyard and doing concentrated muscle exercises will keep your blood flowing and help you feel your best.
While regular exercise is important, remember to avoid overexertion. Certain activities – including bending or standing up too fast – can cause spells of dizziness or loss of breath. Be patient with yourself and take things slowly as you find the right balance of rest and movement for yourself.
An ideal way to begin an exercise regime is to work with a physical therapist. Seniors At Home’s Physical Therapy and Rehab program offers regular sessions with a knowledgeable physical therapist in your own home. By creating a personalized plan that is tailored to your needs, you can build strength, improve balance, and avoid injury.
2.Enjoy fresh, healthy meals
Good nutrition habits will help you feel your best, and can also help you avoid additional health concerns such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
One way to ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need is to pay attention to nutrition facts labels. Look for items that will help you limit fats, cholesterol, and sodium while placing lots of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium in your diet.
If you are unable to shop or cook with the ease that you used to, and it is making it difficult to enjoy nutritious meals, call the Department of Aging and Adult Services for your local county (San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara) who can connect you with a Home Delivery Meals program. Seniors At Home also offers meal delivery programs that can help qualifying seniors, including Kosher Meals on Wheels for those in San Francisco who prefer a kosher diet.
3. Cut out unhealthy habits
As we age, it becomes even more important to avoid bad habits that put our health at risk. Smoking, for example, is one of the largest health hazards among seniors, putting millions at risk of lung disease, heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Other addictions, such as excessive alcohol intake, prescription drug abuse, and online or TV shopping can drastically reduce quality of life for homebound seniors.
According to AARP Public Policy Institute, over 40 percent of older adults have chronic pain that is often treated with opioids, which are highly addictive and can lead to life-altering and even fatal reactions when misused. Ensure that any prescription medication is taken at the proper dosage and at the right times of day in order to decrease the risk of prescription drug abuse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with any kind of addiction, seek help. Find local addiction meetings and talk to those closest to you about how they can support you.
4.Create a comfortable routine
Whether alone, with a partner or family member, or with a caregiver, sticking to a general daily routine can help you sustain long-term health and happiness. Simply waking up, brushing your teeth, putting on clothes, and taking your medicine at the same time every day can create a strong building block for the rest of your day.
Creating a comfortable routine for yourself will also help you stick to healthy habits such as exercising and eating balanced meals.
5. Work your mind
Taking care of our minds is as important as caring for our bodies as we age. Though older adults are at an increased risk of developing neurological and mental health disorders such as dementia and depression, there are some helpful ways to boost brain-health and reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
Creative arts – such as painting or drawing – utilize more of our brain than simple learning exercises and keep our mind working long after we’re done with the activity. If you’re more of a puzzle pro, problem solving activities such as crosswords and word searches are also beneficial, as they build recall memory and stimulate word association.
Finding activities you enjoy which also stimulate your mind and memory will help you stay healthy and happy at home.
6. Relax and reduce stress levels
Aging can bring many stressors along with it, especially for seniors who are homebound. The loss of friends or family members, an increased amount of unstructured time, a change in relationships with children, or a decline of physical abilities can all lead to anxiety or stress. The good news is that there are many ways to counteract these problems from your home.
Doing meditation exercises, or even just taking time to relax, targets the stress response and can lower blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones.
Additionally, experiencing joy can help reduce our stress levels. Spending time with family or close friends or even watching your favorite television program in the middle of the day, may be key to finding balance in your daily home life.
Hiring Home Care can also help take the stress off when daily chores become a challenge. Seniors At Home Caregivers are available 4-24 hours a day and can provide transportation, prepare meals, give medication reminders, and be there for companionship and support.