Wellness for Seniors: It’s More Than Physical Health

When we think about senior wellness, we need to think not only in terms of living healthy in body, but also in mind and spirit. And we need to think in terms of how our minds, bodies and spirits are  interconnected. Living well is all about balance, much like the balance required of each of the three legs for a stool to function: Remove one leg of the stool and it topples over. 

While human beings may not exactly topple over, we can struggle to function well if we neglect one of our three aspects of wellness. When our bodies hurt, our spirits may struggle. If we’re isolated and lonely, we may become physically sick. When our minds are in an unhealthy place, it can affect our emotional health. And the cycle continues — unless we choose to alter it.

Health and wellness for seniors

Being proactive with our health as we age is definitely better than reacting to our health needs once we’ve become ill or need care. Just some of the benefits of maintaining good health as we age:

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease, dementia and some cancers
  • Helps keep bones and muscles strong
  • Improves sleep and boosts mood
  • Keeps weight gain in check

Programs and opportunities promoting overall wellness — especially for seniors — have gained lots of attention in recent years. Senior living communities in particular have become leaders in creating health and wellness programs that emphasize physical, spiritual and emotional health. 

Some examples of health and wellness programs for senior citizens that can be found at senior living communities include those that promote regular physical activity, those that encourage healthy social connections, and those that foster well-rounded diets and good nutrition.

If you’re wondering why wellness matters in senior living, it’s because lifestyle choices can make a big difference in how well people age — and possibly how long they live.

Types of overall wellness activities for senior 

Let’s look at some of the ways in which seniors can focus on wellness in body, mind and soul. If you’re an older adult looking for ways to improve your overall health, these wellness activities are great places to get going!

Maintaining senior wellness in body 

This is really a two-pronged effort: You’ll want to stay physically active, and you’ll want to maintain a healthy diet.

If you’re not a regular at your local gym, that’s OK. Even 30 to 45 minutes of exercise a day can help reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Start walking around your neighborhood, hop on a treadmill or an elliptical bike, or just jog lightly in place during your favorite TV show while the commercials are on. Watch YouTube videos to learn yoga, tai chi or some simple stretching exercises. You don’t have to break a sweat to reach your goal; you really just want to burn those calories.

As for maintaining a healthy diet, you don’t have to cut out steak and potatoes, or give up that bowl of ice cream you enjoy each night. Just make sure you’re eating lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and beans; add more fruits and vegetables to your plate (dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli and spinach are easy to add to many dishes and are so good for you) and avoid loading up on carbs and sugar. As for that bowl of evening ice cream, try mixing it up with a homemade fruity sorbet or lower-calorie frozen yogurt. (And watch your scoop size, too.)

Maintaining senior wellness in mind

Your brain needs exercise too — and some of the best ways to keep your brain active may be things you’re already doing. If you’re volunteering in your community, or trying out a new hobby or two, or traveling regularly to new places, those are great ways to keep your mind engaged, so keep them up!

If you don’t currently have these outlets, or if they no longer interest you, there are lots of alternatives. Consider enrolling in a lifelong learning class or picking up books at the library about subjects that interest you. If you’re really excited about these subjects, chances are good that other older adults are interested, too. So start a book club. 

All these things have an added benefit of staying engaged with the world and the people around us. And studies show that people who maintain their social ties reduce their risks of cognitive decline, depression and heart disease. 

Maintaining senior wellness in spirit

You don’t need to be a regular churchgoer to keep yourself healthy in spirit. You don’t even have to consider yourself a religious person. Having a healthy spirit simply means having a sense of peace and purpose. You can find both in nature, through meditation, by helping others, and by seeking meaning and connection in your life.

Santa Marta keeps you engaged — mind, body and spirit.

Our community offers so much more than remarkable health services for every stage of life. We also focus on ways to keep you living well in body, mind and spirit, with a community full of friendly neighbors, a welcoming and hospitable staff, more than 200 monthly activities, superb dining, wellness opportunities and so much more.

We invite you to learn more about our focus on senior wellness, and about our mission to enable seniors to live full and active lives. Complete our form to connect with us, or contact us by calling 913-828-4180.