3 Ways to Help Elderly Loved Ones Age Well

If someone in your life is turning 65, Medicare decisions, lifestyle adjustments, and changing health needs can all feel a little overwhelming.

Here’s the good news, though — Like any of life’s challenges, if you can break the problem down into bite-size chunks, it becomes much easier to come up with a successful plan of attack. Let’s tackle three of the fundamental transitions older adults face, and how you can help a senior in your life find great solutions.

ORGANIZE HEALTH CARE BENEFITS

Let’s start by looking at age and Medicare. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, people over age 65 spend three times more on personal health care than people of working age. Turning 65 means Medicare becomes a more pressing concern, but you have some great resources to make the decision-making process straightforward and stress-free.

Start by taking stock of your loved one’s current health needs, so that you have all that information at your fingertips. Spend an afternoon gathering data on the medications he or she regularly takes, his or her sundry health management costs, and any factors in his or her life that may incur future health expenses.

Once you have that foundational information organized, do some research. Anthem offers this comprehensive resource to help you or your loved one choose the right Medicare Advantage plan. The guide walks you through everything from the basics of understanding Medicare eligibility to managing the transition from a current insurance plan.

STAY SOCIALLY ACTIVE

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 28 percent of older adults live alone. We all know that loneliness is unpleasant, but research is finding growing evidence for a correlation between social isolation and a range of health problems, including cognitive decline, depression, and even heart disease.

A great way to help an aging parent is to work with them to find a vibrant and active community. While it never hurts to get in touch with your local recreation centers and libraries, the Internet is a fantastic tool here as well.

Start by signing up for a free membership to activity organizing site Meetup. Here you’ll find a treasure trove of fun local activities, from movie appreciation and book clubs to pottery making and hiking groups. Better yet, many of these groups cater specifically to seniors.

And of course, it’s always a good idea to sit down with an older family member to give a refresher course on how to use Skype and FaceTime. Even a quick daily five-minute check-in can make a world of difference.

GET GOOD NUTRITION AND EXERCISE

Proper nutrition and exercise flow beneficially into so many fundamental aspects of well-being and preventive health care. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has prepared this fabulous resource for nutrition planning among older individuals. While you can have fun finding a dietary lifestyle that works best for the seniors in your life, the basic principles are quite straightforward.

Aim for highly nutritious foods that don’t contain empty calories. Fruits and vegetables are a great daily foundation, along with plenty of lean meats, seafood, and eggs. Low cholesterol, low-fat foods support cardiovascular health and significantly lower the risk of health conditions commonly associated with older age.

As for exercise, YouTube offers a vast library of free, endlessly varied, and fun workout programs for seniors. Here’s a great low-impact workout for seniors to start their fitness journey. Oh, and remember, playing with the young ones is a surprising calorie burner! Just 10 minutes cavorting with the grandkids can burn as many as 70 calories.

BUILDING THE RIGHT FOUNDATION

While tackling the challenges of older age can seem daunting at first, everything becomes that much easier to handle if you get the foundation right.

Building a robust approach to Medicare, maintaining strong social contacts, and staying on top of the all-important nutrition and exercise routine will set an excellent baseline for maintaining an active and productive life in older age.

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