Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Planning For Senior Life

My parents
Have you ever thought of what kind of life you want when you are old? Many people plan for retirement and life after retirement, yet reality can change our plan unexpectedly. It is partly because there are factors we never anticipated as we have no experience on it. For example, planning for senior life when you never live as an “old you”. When you have no idea how the “old you” would feel like, you certainly can’t plan properly.

I do plan for my future until I take care of my parents. By the way, my parents are both fit and can handle most of their daily tasks with ease. I’m not expressing from taking care of immobility seniors. Yet, they are “fragile” as our physical conditions have changed, they need extra care so as to avoid unnecessary and unwanted injury that could cause inconvenience to themselves or care givers. I sometime tell them they are “back to baby stage” where we assist them or give extra care to them just like we care for babies.

Both my parents hold totally different view on life after retirement or senior life. My dad was always active, being taught on Confucianism, he wanted to give back to society. He devoted most of his time on establishing and managing a local association, organizing various programs for the benefits of local people, setting up kindergarten, etc.

As he loved and liked to preserve the Chinese language teachings, he read news, attended seminars and conferences and wrote articles on them. He even published a book depicting the development of Chinese language in Malaysia. He also did lots of charity contribution especially to Chinese schools on regular basis.

The most common phrase out of him was “I don’t have enough time!” At first, I couldn’t grasp the idea seeing him being so busy. By the way, my dad knew how to balance between work and play. He went overseas to places he liked. Looking back, I appreciate my dad for he demonstrated how a fulfilled life would be. Though busy, he enjoyed what he was doing. He was energetic and enthusiastic when he engaged in his activities. He was so capable and smart that we never worried about him.

Yet, everything starts slowing down when he aged. This is when he entered the challenging senior life. We may have dreams and responsibilities to carry out, but we are then limited by our bodily conditions. We move slower, respond slower and think slower. We are prone to illness and fall sick more easily. This is when we need assistance of others. Life at this stage could be annoying and frustrating as you need care and help from others. For some, it is unacceptable and thus, live a lonely and helpless life. For others, they embrace the old age and make adjustment as need arises.

For me, I am grateful I encounter these two types of people who treat senior life differently. Though as an adult, we try to do things ourselves without disturbing or troubling others. It is not the case for seniors. Understanding your conditions and asking for help is an inner power one should possess. Nature has shown us this fact but it is simply neglected by us. Human life starts as baby who needs to be nurtured and cared, then ends our life with aging senior who also needs care and assistance too. Therefore, being old age, we need to accept assistance gracefully and ask for help if need arises. Others would not know our limitation unless we tell them, just like my parents.  

So, do we need to plan for our senior life? Definitely, but take into consideration how our physical changes may limit our movement that require assistance, how this assistance is being met and how you ask for it. Most importantly, embrace your old age, have right mindset and positive attitude, and enjoy a simple yet happy senior life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Senior Living - Exercise And Fitness Tips

Recumbent bike is suitable for senior workout
It is imperative for everyone especially seniors to do regular exercises and fitness programs in order to stay healthy and live happily. Staying fit will enable seniors to enjoy everything in life without too dependent on others.

Growing old doesn’t restraint one from doing exercise. Research has shown that exercise is safe for all ages and not doing exercise will cause more harm than doing just moderate exercise. Yet, according to the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), many seniors try to do exercises they did 20 years ago without realizing their physical changes and chronic diseases they have, thus injuring themselves during the exercise.

Here are some exercise and fitness tips to help seniors in getting optimum health while enjoying exercise.

Tip #1: Know Your Body

Consult your doctor before starting any exercise or fitness program. Get a clearance first. You should choose an exercise or fitness program that is within your physical abilities. There are lots of fitness programs that can be custom made for each individual even if someone has limited mobility. Play it save. The key is, keep exercising. Over time, your health will improve and you will lead a more satisfying life.

Tip #2: Have Fun

Choose exercises or fitness programs that you truly enjoy. Exercise is by no means, having fun in the process. Do not dread yourself to do exercise for the sake of doing it. There are plenty of options you can choose from and you can change along the way. My dad and my mom always stick to their chosen routine and diligently follow through daily. They live as a role model for me. I’m now having fun doing yoga.

Tip #3: Start Slowly

Start simple and easy to follow exercise routine instead of any exercises with great intensity. You may injure yourself unnecessary and kill your enthusiasm for continuing any exercise. Start slowly but consistently, you’ll discover how exercise or fitness program can be a joyful task to accomplish and at the same time, give you a healthier lifestyle.

Walking is one form of low impact, easy to do exercise. It is highly recommended for seniors as it doesn’t require any equipment and can be done anywhere. Others include stretching exercises that give seniors flexibility and freedom of movement and balance exercises that allows seniors to have stronger leg muscles to avoid falls.

Tip #4: Keep Updated

Like any form of activities, seniors should keep abreast with latest development and progress of fitness program and health-related issues. These are easily available from internet, news and magazines, health center and gym, etc. Once you are equipped with the latest information, your confidence boost as you know you are adhering to fundamental principles and you can try new fitness programs without hesitation.

By following these exercise and fitness tips, seniors can expect to have an enjoyable and healthy lifestyle. However, bear in mind that the best exercise or fitness program is the one you can follow through and stick with it. If you can stick with it with right attitude and right mindset, you’ll obtain optimum health while enjoying your senior life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Understand Aging And Your Bodily Changes

We need tools as we aged such as walking stick
We all love to be young and stay young. Yet, we all get old as it is a fact of life. However, understand it and truly experience it are two differently things. Looking after my parents, it opens up my eyes to the world of the old. 

We need to understand how our body changes as we aged and how it affects our bodily functions and appearances. Since our birth, our body goes through a series of changes due to changes in our cells and organs. These changes make significant decline in bodily functions and appearances.

Our bodily functions normally peak before age 30 and then gradually and continuously decline. The first signs of aging always begin with musculoskeletal system. At this time, the eyes, followed by the ears will start to decline. That’s why many people over the age of 40 starts to wear glasses, contact lens, bifocals, etc. as the lens of eyes become stiffens and cannot remain focused on objects up close.  

As we age, it becomes more difficult to hear high pitched sounds and gradually, even hearing low pitched sounds also become difficult. When hearing is impaired, the use of hearing aid may become a necessity. In this regard, we need to be patient and speak louder and clearly while communicate with old people.

We start growing white or gray hair as less pigment or melanin is produced. Our hair also becomes thinner and for some, they experience hair loss. It is because hair follicles stop producing new hair.

We start to have wrinkles and dry skin. We have muscle mass loss which means loss of flesh, yet our body fat increases. The body fat starts to change up to 30% by the time a person reaches 40. This can create health problems, such as diabetes. The distribution of fat also changes, thus changing the shape of our torso. Our weight also changes.

We tend to break our bones easily as bones become less dense. We find it hard to move and less flexibility as less joint fluid is produced. We also have tight or stiff joint. 

Most internal functions also decline with aging. We feel dizziness when standing because the heart responds less to changes in position and couldn’t pump enough blood to the head. We become less stable and easily off balance because related organs degenerate.

We become less interesting in eating because taste and smell decreases, making food less appetizing. Chewing is hard because teeth are missing and jaw muscles are week. Even swallowing is a difficult task for us.

We find it hard to remember things, learn new things and focus on things. We tend to be very forgetful for recent events but can recall old memories vividly.
As we grow old, we are less able to handle various stresses, do strenuous physical activity, adjust to extreme temperature changes in the environment, and handle any disorders. This decline also means that older people are more likely to experience side effects from drugs.

Aging healthy becomes essential. We can increase our health by regular exercising, eating healthy, socializing with positive thinking people and be happy and joyous all the time. Periodic medical checkup is a good practice to prevent any disease. It also helps to detect any disease early and to give cure and treatment early.

It is crucial to know the aging process and how your bodily functions change to prepare yourself as you aged. It also allows you to make necessary adjustment and apply devices that assist you as you grow old. If you can accept aging wisely, you will live a happy and joyful senior life.