Healthy bones, muscles, and joints are important at every age, but especially so for seniors. Broken bones can take longer to heal and increase risk of complications as you age. In addition, weak muscles and stiff joints can lead to inactivity, which only makes these issues worse. It can be a vicious cycle. Staying active and keeping your bones and muscles in good shape can benefit you throughout your life. October 12-20 is Bone and Joint Health Action Week, and a wonderful time to brush up on ways to improve bone and joint health.
Calcium: Make sure you are getting plenty of calcium in your diet to keep bones strong. Don’t forget to pair this with vitamin D as well, which helps the body to absorb calcium. Milk is fortified with Vitamins D and K, but not all foods are. You can boost your vitamin D (and mood too!) by spending some time out in the sun.
Exercise: If you want to strengthen your muscles and joints, you’ve got to keep them moving. Switch up your routine by doing both strength and cardio exercises. Choose some activities that are gentler on your joints such as swimming or biking in addition to more strenuous activities such as running or stairs. Yoga is a great way to strengthen and tone your muscles while also enhancing balance and coordination. This can help to reduce the risk of falls.
Diet: In addition to getting enough calcium, make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet every day. Try to avoid processed foods and too much sugar or carbs. Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy to provide natural sources of many essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Practice safe movements: Learn how to properly bend and lift to avoid injuring your back and knees. Be careful when picking up grandchildren or tidying up around your home that you’re not causing too much strain. Sitting on a firmer chair as opposed to a softer couch where you sink in can make getting up and down easier.
Get tested: Get a bone density test to check for areas of weakness and osteoporosis. This can help you to be proactive in protecting your bones and reducing risk of breaks. Your doctor can help you to create a plan that meets your individual needs.
Stay active: While it seems counter-intuitive to move around when your muscles are weak or sore, being inactive can actually make things worse. Doing gentle movements to stretch and slowly build strength can help you to feel better. Regular workouts can boost your energy and improve coordination, balance, and flexibility. This can reduce the risk of falling.
It is important to pay attention to bone and joint health as you age. An in-home caregiver can support you with tasks around your home, making a menu and preparing healthy meals, getting to and from the rec center or community events, and providing companionship. Age in place more safely and comfortably with the right level of support for your needs.