Keeping healthy foods in your diet, maintaining your optimism, and staying active are some of the most important factors to maintaining your health and vitality. Not only can these factors prevent frailty as you age, but they can also reverse frailty if you are starting to show signs of aging.
Aging and Frailty
It is estimated that between 7 to 12 percent of people age 65 and older meet the criteria to be classified as frail. Frailty increases your risk of developing other health conditions including infections, hospitalizations, falls, and even broken bones and disabilities.
Many aging adults with frailty have an increased risk of surgical complications, more frequent and longer hospital stays, and decreased independence. The risk of losing independence as frailty develops increases more than 20 times in those who do not take the proper measures to fight back against diminished health. Even though is information can seem intimidating, it is possible to reverse frailty if you start now.
Identifying Frailty Early
Identifying frailty early is extremely important. This is actually a pretty easy process and Johns Hopkins has developed a questionnaire to help easily identify problems in the aging population. Simply answer these 5 questions.
- Shrinking? Have you unintentionally lost 10 pounds or more in the last calendar year?
- Have you noticed difficulty standing without a little help? Have you noticed that your grip isn’t as strong as it used to be?
- Do you feel tired? Have you noticed that everything you do in your daily life takes more energy than it used to? Do you have trouble ‘getting going’ at least three days per week?
- Less active? Are you less active than you used to be? This is a broad question but it can include doing fewer household chores, less of the activities you usually enjoy, or even a reduction in the exercise that you would normally do.
- Has your walking pace changed? Walking slowly is a sign of frailty. If walking 15 feet takes more than six or seven seconds, your pace is considered slow.
If you answered yes to any of these questions and are over the age of 65, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible to rule out any medical condition, and start making changes in your daily life to reverse frailty.
One of the primary causes of age-related frailty is decreased muscle mass. Research is conclusive that simple activities like walking regularly and light strength training can dramatically improve strength and reduce overall weakness in even the frailest of aging adults.
It is usually recommended for you to begin your exercise routine, even if it is just walking, with someone present. This is especially true if you have been considered a fall risk at any point in time. Remember that personal trainers are not just for people who want to develop huge muscles. They are for anyone who wants to learn the right way to workout without getting injured.
A personal trainer that is certified or experienced with working with older adults can help improve strength and balance safely and lead you on the path to reversing frailty.
Eat Right Every Day
It is more important than ever for you to eat three healthy meals every day. Your meals should provide protein, good fats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy or dairy-free equivalent. Many doctors and dietitians recommend the Mediterranean diet to aging patients to help improve health and overall strength. Research has shown that this diet is very easy on the body but very beneficial to overall health.
Keep Your Self Optimistic and Your Mind Active
We all know that staying optimistic and positive can have a positive effect on our overall health, this has never been more important than in the aging population. Many studies have shown that remaining social and continuously learning has a positive effect on mental frailty and can dramatically reduce memory problems later in life. Reading and listening to music can help boost your mood as well as improve your mental acuity.
Now you’re ready to take the first steps in the right direction. It doesn’t matter what your age is, you can begin taking control of your health again today. Even changing one small thing at a time can dramatically improve your strength and memory. Eating well, staying active, and keeping yourself optimistic can go such a long way in keeping you healthy and independent for many more years to come.