A study in a large Chinese city found that seniors were the most avid users of urban parks. Walking, talking and doing activities like Tai Chi in parks or other green spaces offer key social, physical and emotional benefits that support healthy aging. Canadian cities like Toronto are adding benches and more tree cover to encourage older adults to make greater use of parks and reap the multiple health benefits.
More than 3 million Canadians have chronic conditions such as COPD and asthma that affect their breathing. About 1 in 4 people over 80 have COPD, while asthma rates increase after 65 and symptoms can be more severe in older adults. You can improve breathing and reduce symptoms by avoiding triggers, exercising safely, breathing clean air and taking your medications as prescribed.
Older adults who regularly volunteer in their local communities are 2.4 times less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t volunteer. Research suggests that the social, mental and physical benefits that come from volunteering help keep older adults sharp. Volunteering for just an hour or two a week at a school, library or homeless shelter is good for your mind and makes a meaningful contribution to society by helping others.
A few months ago, we gave three reasons why older is better, including research that showed seniors are happier than their younger selves. Turns out we just scratched the surface of the ‘getting older is getting better’ movement—here are four more mind and body benefits of growing old.
Anxiety disorders are at least twice as common in older adults as depression and affect between 5.5% and 10% of Canadian seniors. Anxiety disorders, if they aren’t treated, increase the risks of physical illness, falls and social isolation. Healthy changes in lifestyle, relaxation techniques and cognitive-behavioral therapy are effective ways to ease anxiety and improve quality of life.
More than 30% of Canadian women aged 71 or older have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, compared with about 6% of men. Regular weight-bearing activities like walking and dancing can help prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Older adults with osteoporosis can improve bone strength and prevent falls and fractures with activities that include strength training, balance and posture exercises, and regular aerobic, weight-bearing exercise.
If you ask people what’s important to them as they age, they will almost always mention staying in control of their life and making their own decisions, with independence and choice being dearly held values at any age. Recently, I had the chance to chat with someone who is ensuring that she ages with choice and independence, and I think her story has great lessons for many of us.
One in six Canadians suffers from seasonal allergies, and these can pose serious risks for seniors with heart conditions and COPD. Consult with your doctor about the safe use of allergy medications, which can potentially cause side effects like drowsiness and dizziness in older adults. Simple strategies such as closing doors and windows, monitoring pollen counts and wearing sunglasses outside can reduce your exposure to allergy triggers and uncomfortable symptoms.
It’s great to feel the warmth of the sun again—and that also means it’s time to change up your skin care routine to reflect higher temperatures and humidity, as well as more intense UV rays from the sun.
Many of us now know that our health and longevity are impacted much more by our lifestyle and behaviours than by our genetics. This may make you worried that you waited too long to make good choices. Good news: there is evidence that it’s never too late to make changes that positively impact our health. John Hopkins Medicine published an article titled, “It’s Never Too Late: Five Healthy Steps at Any Age,” and The Guardian published an article with the headline, “Key to Longer Life May Lie in Keeping Fit From the Age of 70.” It continues: “Former Lifestyle May Not Determine Longevity.”