Most children grow up with fond memories of grandma and grandpa’s house. Time learning and playing under their loving, and generally more patient eyes. These days can be some of the happiest, tenderest of our childhood. As children we don’t often think of our grandparents in context of some of the unique elderly health challenges they face. However, we sometimes see the impacts on their daily lives.
We may see their joints get a bit stiffer, as it gets harder for them to get off the floor or help us tie our shoes. Sometimes we start to notice the beginnings of forgetfulness and hear the same stories over and over again. Maybe we hear the word cancer spoken under breath and then see greater worries in the adults around us. Suddenly Grandma and Grandpa may not be able to share the games and life skills they’ve often been a part of. Often the cookies in the jar or other goodies change or go away all together. Quite frequently we see the growing number of prescription bottles in the bathroom medicine cabinet.
As adults, we can see that many of these life changes happened due to health challenges our grandparents were facing. Now, as adult kids with aging parents, we have the opportunity to support them through their next stage of life so that they can be available grandparents for our children.
In our new series, Honoring Our Elders’ Health, we’re going to look at some of the common conditions and concerns for our elderly population. We’ll also dive into some of the lifestyle supports we can offer to help them restore function or maintain the health they have. Helping them to live out their golden years in the best health possible is one of the best things we can do to honor our elders.
Grandparents and Games
One of the most common comments, lighthearted or serious, people make as they age has to do with their joints and how hard it is to get moving. Arthritis is a term used to describe over 100 conditions that affect the joints. It affects about 50 million adults as well as 300,000 children and is considered the most common cause of disability. Most commonly, arthritis is due to lifestyle, either one that causes a lot of wear and tear to the joints and cartilage, or one that is inflammatory and causes immune reactions within the body.
The key to healthy mobility is to keep moving in a healthy way! That may seem a bit hard to get started. In the coming weeks we can help share information that will shed some light and hopefully help you reduce inflammation and loosen up those joints.
Many people think of starvation when they hear of malnutrition. Certainly, a lack of food can contribute to malnutrition, but there are other factors at play also. Malnutrition can happen when someone taking in the proper nutrients, but can also occur when they are unable to absorb or use the nutrients they do consume due to disruptions in digestion or other organ functions. This can range from GI issues to diabetes, from liver function to immune and stress response. Elderly health is dependent upon proper nutrition.
Many older adults may start to lose their teeth making it more difficult to chew and swallow their food. Sometimes they lose their appetite due to other illnesses or lack of exercise. When they don’t use as many calories in daily life, they may eat less, however that may mean the foods they are taking in aren’t providing the nutrients they need for optimal function. Elderly people are often faced with lonely situations. Whether they are widowed or missing family, they may not find much joy in their mealtimes as they had in days past. In the coming weeks we can offer some insights in how to support your elderly family and friends in proper nutrition. If you are looking for some recipes and healthy options to drop a dish off, check out our website!
Age and the State of the Mind
The mind and elderly health can be affected in numerous ways. Cognitive function as well as mental health can be affected by several factors and conditions sometimes become more prevalent with age. Not because it’s normal, but unfortunately because it’s too common due to many circumstances our elderly face. Depression and mental health decline can occur due to lack of activity or interaction with others or as a side effect of common prescriptions. We will have an entire article devoted to elderly mental health.
Dementia is a blanket term to describe an impaired ability to make decisions, remember, or think clearly. Alzheimer’s is a specific form of dementia and a devastating reality that too many of our elderly face. While bits of forgetfulness happen to everyone, these extreme cases can cause deep sadness, confusion, and stress in families. This article in the series will explore some of the supports available to help with cognitive support and function.
The Growing Medicine Cabinet
It is common for the medicine cabinet to become more and more full as time and age continue to pass. Like many themes we discuss, common does not mean normal. It is not normal for people to need more prescriptions to function and live as time goes on. With varying prescriptions come multiple potential side effects that occasionally lead to even more medications. This cycle can become not only expensive, but also take a toll in other ways both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, many of these prescriptions are considered to be lifelong due to chronic illnesses such as arthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and more. We disagree.
According to the American Cancer Society:
1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
Once again, just because it is common does not mean it is normal! With statistics like these, it is imperative that we learn how to take care of the body we live in and restore function where there are disruptions. Cancer is the replication of abnormal cells. Cell function and replication needs to be properly supported restored so that a healthy state of homeostasis is possible. Elderly health doesn’t have to include a cancer diagnosis.
We Do Health Differently!
Our elderly face numerous unique health challenges. As younger people, we’ve been taught to honor our elders. In this series we’ll empower and equip you to help support the elderly people in your life as you honor them on their health journey in this stage of life. If you have more questions or are looking to connect with a Wellness Way practitioner, contact us today.