Older Persons

  1. OLDER PERSONS – Physical exercise enhances and maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness of older persons. It strengthens muscles and the cardiovascular system, and may be used for weight loss or maintenance and for enjoyment. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent diseases such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression, helps to promote or maintain positive self-esteem, and can even augment an individual’s sex appeal or body image.
  2. Physical exercise is important for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system.
  3. Structured physical activity or exercise is a popular pursuit amongst older persons and can be of considerable benefit given the physical declines associated with ageing.  As we age, a great number of structural and functional changes occur leading to a decline in “optimal” physical capacity.
  4. Our level of activity affects some of the changes that occur as we grow older.  Factors such as breathing capacity, heart function, muscle strength, etc. are heavily influenced by a person’s level of fitness.
  5. A sedentary lifestyle is an important cause of disability in the elderly.  Increases in life expectancy and the subsequent growth of the elderly population have a marked effect on the proportion of older persons with a disability. Older persons aged 70 years or older usually have difficulty with performing essential activities of daily living. This type of disability limits older persons’ autonomy and introduces dependence. It marks a serious decline in functional health and increases the risk of outpatient care, hospitalization, nursing home admission, and death.
  6. Exercise can benefit seniors by toning both the mind and the body. Seniors coping with problems from disease, disability or old age practice modified low-impact exercises that encourage strength and flexibility and reduces mental stress.
  7. The benefits of exercise include:
    • Decreased risk of stroke, heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, dementia, and more.
    • Decreased body fat
    • Improved movement of joints and muscles
    • Improved oxygen delivery throughout the body
    • Improved sense of well-being
    • Improved strength and endurance
  8. To enjoy a long and healthy life, everyone should make lifestyle choices that include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining normal weight. The combination of inactivity and poor diet is a common preventable cause of death among any age group.
  9. No one is too old to exercise. Everyone including the elderly should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming and gardening nearly every day.  The key to reaching and maintaining physical fitness even as we grow older is to find activities that are exciting, challenging, and satisfying.
  10. Warming up and cooling down are important parts of every exercise routine. They help the body make the transition from rest to activity and back again, and can help prevent soreness or injury, especially in older people.
  11. It is never too late to start exercising. Elderly adults who exercise twice a week can significantly increase their body strength, flexibility, balance, and agility. Even small improvements in physical fitness and activity can prolong life and independent living.
  12. Exercise has a number of effects that benefit the heart and circulation. These benefits include improving cholesterol and fat levels, reducing inflammation in the arteries, and helping to keep blood vessels flexible and open. Physical activity and avoiding high-fat foods are the two most successful means of reaching and maintaining heart-healthy levels of fitness and weight.
  13. People who maintain an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing heart disease than do sedentary people.
  14. Moderate aerobic exercise can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.  Exercise has positive benefits for those who have diabetes. It can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and strengthen the heart. Strength training, which increases muscle and reduces fat, may be particularly helpful for people with diabetes.
  15. Aerobic exercise has significant and particular benefits for people with type 1 diabetes. It increases sensitivity to insulin, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and decreases body fat.
  16. Exercise is critical for strong muscles and bones. Muscle strength declines as people age, but when people exercise they are stronger and leaner than others in their age group.
  17. Joints require motion to stay healthy. Long periods of inactivity cause the arthritic joint to stiffen and the adjoining tissue to weaken. A moderate exercise program that includes simple step aerobics, power, and strength training has benefits for older persons with osteoarthritic problems.
  18. Older persons who start an exercise program usually have less disability and pain.  They are also better able to perform daily chores, and remain independent longer than their inactive peers.
  19. Exercise should be considered as part of a broader program of normal home, work, and social activities. In this way, the positive benefits of exercise not only affect strength and flexibility but they also alter and improve the patients’ attitudes toward their disability and pain.
  20. Physical activity makes you healthier. It lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease and reduces bone loss. Physical activity also helps the body use energy more efficiently, which helps you eliminate body fat and lose weight. It also helps you maintain weight loss by increasing your metabolism and reducing your appetite.
  21. Regular exercise has a positive effect on the general health of people with diseases or chronic conditions including the elderly, and can lessen the severity of emotional disorders by giving the person a sense of greater control.

    Daily foot care is very important for everyone including diabetics.  To avoid serious foot problems that could result in loosing a toe, foot or leg, you should

    1. Inspect your feet daily
    2. Wash your feet in lukewarm water
    3. Be gentle when bathing your feet
    4. Moisturize your feet but not between your toes
    5. Cut nails carefully and straight across
    6. Never trim corns or calluses
    7. Wear clean dry socks: change socks daily
    8. Avoid socks with tight elastic bands
    9. Do not wear tight or bulky socks
    10. Never walk barefoot, not even in the house.
  24. Older persons need regular check ups too.  Check, your eyes, feet, mouth and all body parts including the heart.

    Older persons have special needs for nourishing food, because they are less active and use less energy.  Using less fat for cooking, reducing sugars and sweets, meats and starchy foods can reduce their calorie intake.  Foods from the six food groups must be carefully chosen and properly prepared.

      1. Staples ( Cereals, starchy foods, roots and tubers)
      2. Legumes (Dried peas beans and nuts)
      3. Food from Animals ( Meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk etc.)
      4. Dark green leafy, yellow and other vegetables.
      5. Fruits (Citrus, yellow and all other)
      6. Fats and oils (Margarines, butter, oils and other fats).

    The person with a nutrition related disease must be seen by a doctor.  They may be given medication for diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease and Stroke, which may react with specific nutrients in food and should therefore be referred for nutrition counseling.  The diet may then be adjusted for the specific condition.