Health in the elderly is an issue that deserves full treatment. Aging usually brings organic and psychological problems that occur differently in each individual. These problems are not always sufficiently understood or properly addressed.
There is a widespread idea that old age is disease and decrepitude. This does not necessarily have to be this way. Although it is clear that over the years skills are being lost, and there is a greater risk of suffering from different pathologies, health in the elderly does not have to be a serious problem.
One of the decisive factors for maintaining relatively good health in the elderly, and maintaining a good quality of life, are care and habits. These are a tool to moderate the effects of the passage of time and generate greater well-being.
The three basic health care in the elderly
The first thing to say is that an older person should have regular medical check-ups, which does not mean reducing his life to this. On the other hand, health care in the elderly covers three main fronts:
- Physical state
- Psychosocial dimension
Food, as it happens throughout life, is a fundamental factor. Eating healthy and in a balanced way is one of the key aspects in the elderly. Likewise, it is crucial to maintain physical activity routines, since they are determinants to be functional.
The psychosocial dimension largely regulates the adoption and maintenance of care at this stage. Ideally, the elderly person implements self-care habits, but this is only possible if they have enough motivation and self-confidence to do so.
Nutrition in the elderly
People reach an advanced age with eating habits that we must eventually change. The signs that this is necessary are three:
- The intestine shows changes, expressed infrequent episodes of constipation or diarrhea
- The body begins to accumulate fat
- Muscle mass or weight is lost
It is not that there is a special diet for the elderly, but that during the third age it is essential to eat as healthy as we should eat at any stage of life. The only restriction is that there is a disease that conditions the diet.
Falls are a frequent accident in the elderly and one of the factors that cause more deterioration and dependence. That is why it is essential to prevent them. One of the key measures for this is to counteract the loss of muscle mass through frequent physical activity, especially by lifting weights.
In addition to this, it is convenient to adapt the environment to the needs of the elderly. This includes installing switches near the bed and preventing them from moving through spaces without light. Also, remove objects from the floor, fix the floor mats and facilitate access to personal items. It is important that the elderly person wear appropriate footwear.
The skin of the elderly person is drier and fragile, and less elastic. What is indicated, in general terms, is to maintain good hygiene, preferably using a neutral soap for personal cleaning. Using sunscreen and avoiding long sun exposure is another basic recommendation. Also, it is convenient to wear cotton clothes and drink two liters of water a day.
The skin of older people who have limited mobility should be given much attention. It is important to help them change positions frequently, every two or three hours at most. It is also crucial that the skin of the whole body is kept moisturized.
Emotional and cognitive health in the elderly
The older person must usually make adjustments to their role in the face of life and society. To achieve this, objectives and attainable goals must be proposed, according to your tastes, interests and needs. Inactivity and isolation easily lead to incubating depressive states.
It is important that an active social life is maintained. At this stage, it may be necessary to learn to ask for and receive help, without feeling that this puts us in a condition of inferiority. In the same way, participating in activities to help others is usually very healthy.
There are more than 100 forms of dementia that can occur in old age. The best way to prevent them is to maintain a regular physical activity, as well as a constant intellectual activity. It is not convenient to consume tobacco or alcohol. Finding a way to live in a pleasant way is the main antidote against health problems in the elderly.