No one spends their childhood dreaming of the day they can move into assisted living – we expect to remain independent and healthy long into our golden years. But as we begin to see our parents or friends needing the support available in an assisted living residence, it’s natural to wonder how to avoid that situation ourselves.
Is there anything we can do now to avoid assisted living later? The answer is a mixed bag of “maybe.”
Assisted living generally means a residential living solution for seniors or those with disabilities that provides housekeeping, meals, medication support and help with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing and dressing. A move to assisted living can be temporary, such as while recovering from a health issue, or permanent, when a person can no longer care for their own needs and therefore requires the assistance of others.
Assisted living services are very necessary and important, and also often can’t be avoided.
But can we lessen your risk of some things that create the need for assisted living? Absolutely. We can also reduce overall decline and frailty and maximize health to remain independent as long as possible.
The power of small daily choices
There are two aspects of aging—physical and mental. Both play important roles and need mindful attention to remain healthy.
The dozens of small decisions we are making each day reverberate decades later, heavily impacting our future choices and levels of independence. They play a part in determining whether or not you’ll need assisted living later, and whether it’s a choice or necessity.
It’s up to you.
Easy Moves, Big Benefits
In today’s world, it’s easy to park yourself in front of Netflix or YouTube for hours, not moving. It might be relaxing and easy, but it also invites long stretches of sedentary inactivity that is harmful.
But is it keeping your body healthy? Nope. A better choice would be to break up relaxing with something more active, even if it’s for short bursts of time. Every little bit helps. Before you know it, activity becomes a habit – and an important preventative measure you don’t even have to think about.
Taking a few minutes to move around, stretch and keep your joints moving is important whether you’re 40 or 90. The earlier you start, the longer the benefits will last.
You don’t have to give up television, but instead of binge-watching Netflix all afternoon, turning off the TV after two episodes is a small choice with big dividends. Walk around the block or around the yard, spend a half hour vacuuming, go to a movie with friends, or take a yoga class. It all adds up!
Did You Enjoy That Too Much?
Mindful activity isn’t the only key thing to remember: mindful eating is just as important.
If cookies, candy and cavatelli are the only foods that appeal to you, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your diet. How can you expect a healthy body if you’re not feeding it the nutrition it needs? Plus, if you’re not eating right, you’re opening the door to chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
What the father of medicine, Hippocrates, said almost two thousand years ago remains true to this day: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Are small choices at each meal supporting long-term health, or accelerating your decline?
Mindful eating doesn’t have to take the pleasure from a meal. Enjoy each bite and indulge in the occasional dessert. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’re not living!
When you eat, practicing mindfulness—the quality of being present and aware—helps you be aware of your body’s response to food. Savor each bite and realize what you are getting out of it, whether you are eating for health or indulging.
In fact, practicing mindfulness in all aspects of your life will help you live a fuller life, too.
Have Fun and Be Positive
Think back to when you were a child: you just wanted to have fun, right? To play? If you’re not keeping yourself entertained, having fun and including activities and hobbies purely for enjoyment, why not?
Mindful playtime is important, too. It has an essential role in brain fitness, attitude and socialization.
Keeping a positive attitude and making it a point to enjoy your days helps you to resist the common cold and even increase your lifespan, according to the Mayo Clinic. How can it not have an important role in keeping you out of assisted living down the road?
So pick a healthier meal, make sure to exercise, and make it a point to be positive and enjoy life—and assisted living might be your choice, rather than a requirement.
Learning which choices are important and how to incorporate mindful changes in your life are the goal of Sun Health at Home, too! We’ll encourage and support the right choices for a healthier lifestyle, while ensuring you have any future health care needs taken care of. Click here for more information, or to schedule a free discovery seminar.