We want to spend as much time as possible with our loved ones. Yet we know that life doesn't last forever. According to new research completed by the World Health Organization and Imperial College London, global life expectancy is expected to increase by 2030. The U.S., however, won't lead the pack with women averaging 83.3 years and men averaging 79.5 by this time, similar to those predicted for Mexico and Croatia.
Despite these numbers, it's important for family members to take certain steps to elongate the lives of those they hold so dear. Here are four ways to do just that:
1. Focus on diet and exercise
While each senior's capabilities are different, every older loved one can pay attention to his or her daily diet. In addition to staying hydrated, seniors should focus on consuming nutrient-rich foods. Healthy meals often include lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, according to the National Council on Aging. Physical activity can be the more difficult part of this equation, although there are activities that aging loved ones can perform no matter their strength level. Swimming, water aerobics and walking are low-impact exercises that enable seniors to socialize at the same time.
"Doctors perform important health screenings for conditions seniors may have been unaware of."
2. See a doctor regularly
For some seniors, visits to medical professionals can seem scary or taxing on their mind and body. Yet frequent check-ups can bring to light illnesses older loved ones may have been unaware of. Undergoing regular screenings for things such as bone density, skin cancer, blood pressure and more can help seniors avoid detrimental conditions that will impact their health and well-being. Furthermore, doctors can give them helpful advice on how to lengthen their lives. Family members can provide emotional support for aging loved ones by attending these appointments with their parents or grandparents and making a day out of it by stopping for ice cream or a meal on the way home.
3. Stay connected
It's unhealthy for anyone to feel lonely or isolated, but it's even more debilitating for older family members. To reduce the likelihood of these feelings, seniors should attempt to stay as connected as possible to those they love. Daily Caring recommended that children of seniors arrange meals out with old friends, transport parents to assisted living communities and encourage volunteering and appearances at family parties.
4. Keep the mind sharp
While the body is a vessel that must be maintained through diet and exercise, the brain takes a little more work to keep it in working order. It's important for seniors to keep their minds stimulated through certain activities. Although there's no real research linking brain games and mental acuity, trying new things and entering into unfamiliar social situations can help quicken the mind as can learning a different language and making lists to help with memory training, according to AARP.
Family members play a vital role in elongating their loved ones' lives. Simply acting as a constant means of support is an effective step in achieving this goal and spending quality time with seniors in the second half of their lives. Helping older family members maintain their emotional, mental and physical health and well-being has benefits for everyone involved.
For many loved ones, assisted living communities can help them live longer and more safely. These living situations offer additional health care aid as well as a groups of peers to enhance social interaction.