Healthcare becomes more crucial when you reach your golden years. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer take the forefront in most ailments senior citizens experience. Aside from those four, cognitive and spinal issues also affect many older adults worldwide. It’s an inevitable occurrence, but it’s not impossible to treat and prevent.
Once you’re nearing old age, it’s best to start caring for your brain and spine while it’s still early. These two parts of your body go hand in hand because your spine protects the cord connected to your brain. Thus, to care for one is to care for the other.
Your brain is the main machine of your body that controls all the internal functions and allows you to move your limbs properly. Meanwhile, your spine helps you sit, stand, walk, and bend as you need. Once these parts fail, severe ailments could follow. So, keep reading to learn how to maintain the health of these two essential body parts to protect your body as a whole:
1. Reduce Tobacco And Alcohol Intake
Vices are challenging to eliminate, but one must gradually lessen the practice to stop a bad habit. Besides, tobacco and alcohol not only negatively affect your lungs and liver but they may also increase your risk of dementia, especially if you smoke or drink too much.
Smoking, in particular, harms the spine by reducing nutrient flow to the discs. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor that tightens blood vessels. Meanwhile, increased alcohol intake is associated with brain iron accumulation and progressive nervous system degeneration.
You can learn more from an experienced neurosurgeon from a reputable neurological clinic. Additionally, you must know the proper steps to take to treat brain or spinal issues caused by excessive tobacco or alcohol intake.
2. Manage Your Blood Pressure And Cholesterol Levels
High blood pressure not only affects the heart but may also cause problems for your brain and spine. Stroke and heart disease are also believed to contribute to memory loss and dementia in old age. Moreover, high blood pressure and cholesterol may lead to back pains due to the aortic aneurysms that might follow from hypertension. The aorta in your abdomen is also near your lower spine, so what affects your stomach may also affect your back.
If you feel constant dizziness, headaches, and sudden back pain, visit your doctor immediately for a checkup. The symptoms may be a manifestation of high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
3. Improve Your Diet
No matter your age, you must eat a healthy diet, especially when you become much older. Good food does wonders for neural and spinal health, and you must push for more nutritious meals as early as now.
Many dieticians recommend food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and B vitamins because these nutrients correlate to better cognitive health and function. As such, a Mediterranean diet seems fitting as it is believed to lower the risk of having dementia during old age. It features plenty of fish, vegetables, and fruits. The fatty acids in seafood are also excellent for boosting your memory.
An improved diet also helps you maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight could add pressure to your joints and stress to your spine. It’s why most doctors may advise you to lose some weight if you start to feel pain in your lower back. So, even if you’re eating healthier, you must pay attention to your portions. Don’t forget to drink around six to eight glasses of water daily, too.
4. Engage In Mental Activities
The weaker your muscles become, the less you use them. The brain may not be a muscle, but it needs stimulation to function well. Classic games like bingo, crossword puzzles, and sudoku are perfect examples of brain-stimulating activities. Other things older adults can do, such as arts and crafts, knitting, and scrapbooking, keep your mind and hands active and healthy.
If these activities sound too old-school for you, you could always learn something new, like a language or talent. According to a 2021 medical study, acquiring new knowledge in your golden years may help delay cognitive changes that come with aging. So, despite old age, you can learn something new. Your brain could also fare better when you do.
5. Incorporate More Exercise In Your Routine
Many people are unaware of the mental and physical benefits of a 30-minute walk. It’s a great way to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, and it’s not as explosive as swimming or jogging. Hence, it’s appropriate physical exercise for people of all ages. You don’t need to do it daily at first. You can start with a minimum of three days a week on your feet until you can find more time to move around every day.
Exercising makes the heart pump more blood to your muscles, bones, and organs, keeping them alive and working. So, getting regular movement is the key to maintaining good health for your brain, spine, and your whole body.
If you find yourself feeling too weak to do any aerobic exercise, you could still try to stand up whenever possible. You may prefer to sit all day when you’re older, but many medical experts don’t recommend it. Avoid sitting for long hours every day, as this simple act may lead to severe spinal problems in the future.
6. Wear Better Shoes
The wrong pair of shoes can worsen your posture and sometimes lead to a host of spinal problems in the future. Therefore, you must find shoes with extra support to maintain a good spinal alignment and protect your feet and back. Ensure that your footwear is also snug but not too tight. A proper fit prevents your foot from rolling in your shoes as you walk. You may even use orthopedic shoes or inserts for more comfort and protection.
7. Live A Stress-Free Life
Stress is one of the major causes of many physical and mental ailments. In other cases, it could also worsen existing illnesses in people. That’s why doctors may advise their patients to find ways to lessen their stress levels, mainly if their current sickness results from it.
When you’re stressed out, your adrenal glands release more cortisol. If you have too much of this stress hormone, you may find it hard to pick up new information or remember it. Should this happen, try taking a step back. Pick up your favorite stress relief activity, such as reading or getting a massage. When you’re relaxed, you’ll see how much lighter your body feels and how you may feel less pain from your brain to your bones.
Caring for your brain and spinal health requires effort, especially if you’re used to living an unhealthy lifestyle when you were younger. The two parts are interconnected; if one is in pain, the other and the rest of your body may follow suit. However, you still have the opportunity to improve your health despite being an older adult.
So, make the most of your golden years and pay more attention to yourself. You may add extra years to your life while you’re at it.