Jan 26, 2011, 12:10 PM
Post #1 of 1
Aging parents have their own health needs, but parents getting older can be an excellent opportunity to re-examine the lifestyles of both generations, and trying to make them as healthy and happy as possible.
Three roads to better health: Guidelines for aging parents and their children
Follow a healthy diet
Take some tips from Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D., who says a balanced diet may help an individual regulate moods and maintain a steady energy level.
∑ Eat frequent, small meals that include complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains.
∑ Drink plenty of water, while limiting alcohol and caffeine.
∑ Include tryptophan, found in milk, bananas, oats, soy, poultry, cheese, nuts and seeds.
∑ Pay attention to food sensitivities. In some individuals, certain foods can trigger irritability or anxiety. Common offenders include wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts and shellfish.
Get plenty of exercise
Physical activity not only improves heart, muscle and bone health, it helps alleviate stress, and caregivers are at risk of suffering from adverse health effects due to stress. You donít have to join a gym to get exercise; do things you enjoy.
∑ Take a class. Contact a dance studio to learn some new moves, practice tai chi at a community center, or find a water aerobics class at your local Y.
∑ Learn a new activity. You might find a new favorite hobby, and it may only require a small investment in equipment. Take up tennis, learn the joys of inline skating along a boardwalk, or visit a golf club to inquire about lessons.
∑ Donít forget strength and flexibility training. Maintaining strong bones and muscles and staying flexible to avoid injury are imperative for caregivers. Strength training can be in the form of weight-bearing exercise like walking, calisthenics or using hand weights. Do gentle stretches before bed, when your muscles are warmed up and flexible. Or practice both strength and flexibility training in a yoga or Pilates class.
Focus on quality sleep
As caregivers, we ideally want to be sharp, energetic and emotionally balanced, and getting plenty of quality sleep at night is a good starting point. While it varies by individual, most adults need about eight hours of sleep a night. Try the following strategies to make the most of your sleep time.
∑ Follow a regular sleep schedule. Try to rise and retire at about the same time every day, even if it means taking a short afternoon nap or doing something mentally stimulating after dinner to stay awake until bedtime.
∑ Relax before bed. Try a warm bath, reading or a light snack. If stress is keeping you awake at night, try writing in a journal; record your concerns, then close the book and put your worries away for the night.
Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisors for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. Ask Dianna a question, or for one-on-one help about incontinence products, call 1-800-985-1353 M-F 9-4 CST.
(This post was edited by DiannaMalkowski on Jan 26, 2011, 12:13 PM)