May is Older Americans Month

Older adults make up about 16% of the population, or about 54 million Americans. This population has grown since early 2000s and it is expected to grow over the next decade. Here’s a few lifestyle tips to promote independence, decrease risk for chronic diseases and increase overall quality of life.

MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay): This eating plan is based on research that finds following this type of plan can decrease risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairment issues. These are the basic foundations of the MIND diet. It also encourage to eat less saturated fats like butter, fried foods and red meat.

FoodFrequencySpecifics
Vegetables2 or more servings per dayAt least one serving of leafy green vegetable per day.
Berries2 or more servings per weekAny type of berry, although blueberries may be potentially more beneficial.
Whole grains3 or more servings per dayEmphasis on grains that are minimally processed.
Nuts5 or more servings per week 
Beans4 or more servings per week 
Seafood1 or more serving per weekFocus on fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines.
Poultry2 or more servings per week 
Eatrightpro.org

Tai Chi: Tai Chi is an excellent form of exercise for any one, but especially older adults. It’s been described as “meditation in motion”. It is a low impact activity, meaning it will not place pressure on your joints like running and is done in slow motion. It has been shown to increase strength, flexibility, and balance, decrease rate of dementia, reduce stress and pain. It can be modified for those in wheelchairs or who have decreased mobility as well.

Maintain social life: One of the most effective ways to maintain good mental health as we age is to continue to socialize. Socialization has been shown to improve mood, cognition, and memory. Seniors are at risk for isolation due to medical issues, decrease mobility and finances. Participating in local senior center, book clubs, gyms, congregate meals etc. can help reduce risk. There are also programs to have volunteers matched up with older adults. Or if getting places is an issue, using technology can help reduce isolation. The Institute on Aging’s 24-hour toll-free Friendship Line (800-971-0016) is an option for emotional support or just a conversation.

Information from:

The MIND Diet (eatrightpro.org)

How isolation affects memory and thinking skills – Harvard Health

The Health Benefits of Tai Chi – Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Health