One of the first things to go as you age is your bone density, muscle mass, and joints. You can’t get around as well, you’re prone to injuries, and, for some seniors, it feels like you’re shrinking or losing weight. Your joints lose fluid and cartilage causing them to be stiff, and your muscle mass decreases as muscle tissue reduces. Though this is all a natural course of aging, it can make living out your golden years very complex, and for some, even painful.
To prevent the likelihood of developing common bone, muscle, and joint issues like osteoporosis, arthritis, and fasciculations, and/or to reduce the symptoms of these conditions, it is essential for seniors, family caregivers, home health aides, and senior living communities to focus on a few key components.
Positive health always starts from the inside out. Your body needs vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to remain in optimal shape. To improve bone health, for example, seniors need to be consuming a diet that includes calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. To sustain muscle mass, seniors need to be eating diets rich in protein, omega fatty acids, and the B vitamins. For healthy pain-free joints, it is imperative for seniors to consume anti-inflammatory foods.
Consuming low-fat dairy, green leafy vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, and lean beef can help improve your muscles, bones, and joints. It helps to slow the natural process of aging and/or reduce symptoms from conditions like arthritis. For seniors with dietary issues or small appetites, taking daily supplements containing these key vitamins and nutrients and/or drinking your nutrients in smoothies or protein shakes for women and men are ideal.
Seniors that incorporate exercise or physical activity into their daily routines are less likely to fall or become injured than those who don’t. Weight-bearing workouts are best for reducing bone loss, improving stamina, and increasing muscle tone.
A wide misconception is that exercising has to be done in the gym or in front of the television with a DVD. However, there are a lot of physical activities seniors can engage in to maintain optimal muscle, bone, and joint health. They might want to try dancing, going for hikes, walking briskly, playing tennis, climbing the stairs, or even gardening. There are also exercises like yoga which can be ideal for improving balance, flexibility, range of motion, and strength.
Seniors should always check with their doctors before starting a new exercise routine to ensure they won’t worsen their health or injure themselves. They can then work out with other seniors in their community, join exercise classes, or take advantage of fitness programs available at a community center.
Drinking plenty of water is also essential to maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints. When seniors are drinking enough water, the water helps to provide necessary nutrients to the muscles while also removing waste so that they become stronger. Drinking more water also helps to keep joints lubricated so that they don’t rub together causing friction and inflammation which leads to pain.
It’s recommended that the average person drink at least 8 cups of water each day. To try to encourage more hydration for seniors to be sure that they have fresh water sources whether it be a filtration system or bottled spring water. Incorporating fruit into the water helps to add taste and key nutrients which are great for allover health. Senior centers might help with the consumption of water by serving water as an option with each meal or having easily accessible water fountains or dispensers on the premises.
Last, but not least on improving bone, muscle, and joint health in seniors is getting enough sleep. Your body is constantly working, when you’re sleeping, it provides your body with the time it needs to repair, build, and heal. Your bones and muscles especially, need to go through a repair process in which old tissue is replaced with new tissue which is most effectively done when you’re sleeping comfortably.
Getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep can be hard. If there is an underlying cause to your sleep-deprivation, talk to your doctor about treatment. Otherwise, ensure that your sleeping environment is comfortable with proper bedding, temperature, and lighting control.
Osteoporosis, arthritis, and other skeletal, muscular, and joint conditions become more common as you age. You can reduce the likelihood of developing such conditions and/or ease the symptoms of them by being proactive in the areas discussed above.