Assisted Living Wellness Programs Promote Senior Health and Fitness
Senior wellness takes center stage on May 27, National Senior Health and Fitness Day, and we’ve got some tips for helping your senior loved ones stay healthy and happy.
Wellness Programs Promote Senior Health and Fitness
Seniors and caregivers: Are you ready to get fit?
A wide range of organizations are holding special events today for the 22nd annual National Senior Health and Fitness Day 2015, including senior living communities. Billed as the nation’s largest annual health promotion event for older adults, National Senior Health and Fitness Day has one simple goal: to help keep older Americans healthy and fit by offering fitness activities and health fairs at over 1,000 locations throughout the country.
Of course, many of us are concerned with senior health and fitness every single day of the year. Appropriate senior nutrition, exercise and preventative health goes a long way toward keeping our loved ones strong, mentally sound, and illness and injury-free — whether they live in a senior community or with family caregivers.
Health and Wellness in Senior Living Communities
In assisted living and other types of senior communities, nutrition and fitness usually fall under the umbrella of Wellness Programs that target residents’ mental and physical health.
The Assisted Living Federation of America recently praised The Terraces of Phoenix, which has high participation in its wellness programs — and correspondingly low rates of falls and hospitalizations. Their program includes group fitness classes, personal training, and/or independent gym and pool use, and its goal is to improve strength, balance and ability to perform activities of daily living.
Many senior communities offer integrated health, nutrition and fitness services in their Wellness Programs, such as Arbor Ridge Senior Living in Highland Park, Illinois, which includes Clinical Services, Nutrition, Fall Prevention and Diabetic Services as part of its care program. Their health maintenance services are overseen by a trained RN, and meals are planned with proper senior nutrition in mind: lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and plenty of opportunities for hydration.
As a result, they state, “we have few UTI’s (urinary tract infections), few blood pressure/blood sugar issues, and little weight loss.”
Senior Health and Fitness: A Checklist for Caregivers
Senior communities aren’t the only ones looking out for the health of older Americans — in fact, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 80% of care is provided by unpaid caregivers, usually family members. It’s a challenging task, made even more complex by the fact that seniors have distinct nutritional needs, and experience a host of physiological changes that affect their overall health and fitness. Some of the basics family caregivers should have in their toolkit:
- Stay apprised of your loved one’s health status, including any mental or physical health conditions that may affect their diet or fitness level.
- Learn about dietary guidelines for older adults, such as the USDA food patterns or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services DASH eating plan.
- Keep a list of vitamins and medications your loved one is taking — a physician can tell you whether you need to be careful of any food-drug interactions.
- Get informed about the benefits of exercise for seniors: NIHSeniorHealth has a wealth of resources for seniors on how and why to stay active.
- Stay alert to any changes to your loved one’s mental, emotional, or physical health so you can address problems as soon as possible.
Of course, for a more complete run-down on the basics of senior health and fitness for family caregivers, consult a physician or health care professional.
Do you or a loved one participate in National Senior Health and Fitness Day? How do you celebrate? Share your story with us in the comments below.
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