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How Seniors Can Stay Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it. To protect ourselves and others, we all should stay home whenever possible and keep our distance from others when we have to go out. Statistics on seniors and COVID-19 show that they’re more vulnerable to the virus, so social distancing is especially important for older adults. As important as these precautions are, they also create challenges of their own. Maintaining both your physical and mental health can be difficult when you have to stay home. It’s more important now than ever to be in good health, though, so you should make your best efforts to take care of your mind and body.

Here Are Five Ways Seniors Can Stay Healthy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Even when the world isn’t experiencing a pandemic, nutrition can become more challenging as you age. Your sense of smell or taste may change, so certain foods may not seem as appealing anymore. Some medications can affect your appetite or cause other side effects that prevent you from eating enough. COVID-19 has made following a healthy diet even more difficult for some of us. When you’re home all day, it can be tempting to snack on junk food out of boredom. While treating yourself once in a while is perfectly fine, seniors should try to eat mostly nutritious foods to stay healthy.

Try to eat at least a little from the following categories every day:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, etc.)
  • Protein (chicken, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc.)

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet. Try to plan out your meals and snacks a few days in advance so that you have time to get all the ingredients. Write your shopping list based on your meal plan so you don’t buy extra junk food.

Some seniors like to follow the 80/20 rule. This system encourages you to eat healthy foods 80 percent of the time and indulge in other foods without worrying for the remaining 20 percent.

2. Stay Active

If you used to go to the gym or take workout classes, you may be struggling with staying physically active at home right now. Gyms are closed, and if you live in a densely populated area, it may be difficult just to go outside for a walk.

Fortunately, it is possible to create an at-home exercise regimen. Yoga is a very popular home workout for seniors, and it has a number of health benefits. You can find hundreds of yoga videos online, some of which were created specifically for seniors.

There are also lots of videos of chair workouts, stretching, and aerobics for older adults. If you can safely get outside, walking, hiking, and biking are all great ways to get your heart rate up while enjoying the fresh air.

Exercise can reduce pain, improve mobility, enhance sleep quality, and strengthen your mental health. Try to exercise for about 30 minutes a day with your doctor’s approval. Also, avoid sitting still for too long throughout the day. Stand up and move around at least once every hour to get your blood flowing.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration is very common in seniors, and it can cause serious health problems. Drinking enough water can help you feel better overall, and it plays a key role in your immune system, which is particularly important during COVID-19.

The general rule of thumb is to drink 64 ounces of water per day. Another rule is to divide your body weight in half to find the number of ounces you should drink.

Try to make a habit of drinking water throughout your day. Have a glass when you wake up and a glass with each meal. You could put a note on your refrigerator or somewhere else noticeable as a reminder, too. If you don’t like the taste of water, you could add fruit or flavoring powder to make it more appealing.

4. Exercise Your Mind

Your cognitive health is just as important as your physical health. Staying in the same environment all day and having little contact with others can cause your cognitive health to suffer. Keeping your mind active is critical.

You have lots of options for games, activities, and challenges to sharpen your mind. Here are some of the most popular mental exercises:

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Smartphone puzzle games
  • Drawing from memory

You can also give yourself small tasks throughout the day to challenge yourself cognitively. For example, you could try brushing your teeth with your opposite hand or spelling words backwards. These exercises might not be as fun as puzzle games, but they’re quick ways to stimulate your brain while you’re at home.

5. Safely Connect With Others

Socialization is vital for people of all ages. Seniors especially should have regular communication with family, friends, and neighbors to maintain their mental health and quality of life.

One study found that older adults who have larger social networks have a reduced risk of dementia and cognitive impairment. Research also shows that loneliness in seniors can lead to functional decline.

It isn’t safe right now to be in close contact with those you don’t live with. However, there are still ways to communicate and socialize with one another. Platforms like Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts allow you to video chat face-to-face with friends and family. You can schedule one-on-one calls with a loved one, or you can have a virtual hangout night for the whole family.

Regular phone calls are a great way to keep in touch, too. Talking on the phone doesn’t fully replace the experience of being with a loved one, but it helps you catch up and offer support to one another.

COVID-19 quickly changed the way that we interact with each other, and adjusting to social distancing has been tough. Taking steps to maintain your health will help you feel better mentally and physically during this difficult time. You don’t have to devote every second of the day to healthy living, but making small efforts to eat well, exercise, and strengthen your mind will go a long way.

If you’ve been struggling with your mental health during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Counseling can be a great way to work through feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, or any other concerns. Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers telehealth services so that you can safely work with a professional while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Call us today to learn more.

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