A senior African-American woman sleeping in bed to practice self-care, lying on her side.

The Importance of Self-Care for Seniors

Bethesda Health | April 13, 2021

For most of your life you have taken care of others—your children, parents, spouse, friends—but now, as a senior adult, it may suddenly have become difficult to care of yourself.

That’s a change you may not welcome but cannot deny or ignore.

You may be dealing with a chronic illness, or struggling with mobility, strength, pain, or balance issues. During the last 12 months or so, you may have experienced isolation and depression due to the Coronavirus pandemic. All of these factors make self-care more important for seniors.

Don’t allow yourself to give up or give in. There are things you can do to make your life better. It begins by putting your body and mind in motion.

Exercise and Healthy Foods

A program of exercise can help combat chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. It can also decrease your risk for falls as you strengthen your body as well  as refresh your mind. You’ll probably find that you feel good about yourself when you exercise on a regular basis.

Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician.

A well-balanced diet is important for staying healthy as you age. It helps you maintain a healthy weight, stay energized, improve your organ and brain function, strengthen your immune system, and helps manage chronic conditions.

A routine of exercise and healthy eating sets a strong foundation for self-care for seniors and can help many aspects of life.

Get Sufficient Sleep

Poor sleep habits can adversely affect other health issues among seniors and, subsequently, their quality of life. Unfortunately, it’s common for seniors to experience changes in the quality and duration of their sleep.

As people age, their circadian rhythms may change, causing them to feel sleepy earlier in the evening and waking up earlier in the morning. Also, seniors may wake up more frequently during the night. Sleep apnea, repeated pauses in breathing while asleep, leads to poor quality sleep as well.

Sleep tips include:

For more information on aging and sleep, visit The Sleep Foundation.

Maintain Personal and Home Hygiene

As we age, our immune system is not as robust as it was when we were younger. That means maintaining personal cleanliness standards lessens exposure to germs and viruses.

Skin care is also important. It’s recommended that seniors limit their time in the sun especially during the time of the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.

Keeping your home environment clean is also important in eliminating allergens and bacteria. Also, decluttering the home can reduce tripping hazards.

Continue to Manage Your Health Issues

Staying on top of health conditions can be a challenge. Diet restrictions, medications, self-monitoring your condition and staying in touch with your physician may, at times, seem overwhelming, but they are critical to successful self-care for seniors.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Take a walk outdoors and you will improve your emotional health as well as your physical health.

According to Harvard Health, many men, in particular, are at a higher risk for mood disorders as they age. The onset of health issues, loss of loved ones, and the new world of retirement are contributing factors. Harvard says “Interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use.”

And a scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

Social Activities are Self-Care

Isolation can be challenging physically and mentally. Open yourself up. Join an online book club, or chat group. Schedule weekly phone calls to friends and family members.

Social activities help maintain emotional and cognitive health.

Take up a Hobby

Hobbies promote stress relief, a sense of accomplishment and Improved confidence and self-esteem.

Maybe you’ve neglected a past hobby that you would like to begin again, or you can find a new hobby.

You Are Worth It

You have value and purpose. Make the most of your life by practicing self-care as a senior because you are worth it.

Self-care becomes more important as we age. Visit our blog for more ideas for keeping your mental health at its peak.

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