You may have noticed older family members slow down as they get older. You yourself may find it more challenging to be as active like you were when you were younger.
As we age, our bodies become less capable of performing the same activities that we used to do in our younger years. This can lead to a decrease in physical activity and an increase in sedentary behaviors. This can decrease physical strength, flexibility, balance, and overall health.
The Mayo Clinic says that our bones reduce in size and density as we age, making them more fragile and prone to fractures. You may even end up a bit shorter! Our muscles lose strength, endurance, and flexibility, all of which can impair coordination, stability, and balance.
Many Less Active After Age 50
A CDC study showed that nearly a third of adults over 50 reported no physical activity beyond their job in the month prior to being interviewed. Women experienced significantly greater inactivity compared to men. Inactivity increased with age, affecting 25.4% of 50-64-year-olds, 26.9% of 65-74-year-olds, and 35.3% of those aged 75 years and above.
The good news is that remaining active when older can help improve your quality of life. Regular exercise can help improve strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and mobility. It also helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
Kimberly Kinder, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist and Amada Senior Care franchise owner in Little Rock, AR. She says that remaining active as you age has many tremendous benefits, including maintaining muscle mass, balance, coordination, and management of disease processes.
The old adage of 'if you do not use it, you will lose it' becomes more true as we age. The loss of muscle, strength, and balance goes up as the body ages, but all is not lost.
Kinder says that seniors can see tremendous benefits from simple activities such as walking and balance activities that are performed safely in the home.
One important benefit of physical activity is the effect it has on the brain. The best deterrent for Alzheimer's and other dementias is physical activity and exercise.
When an older adult needs long-term health care at home, a trained home care provider can help keep the care recipient active, improving their overall quality of life.
Having someone to assist with safely staying active in the home can keep a care recipient and their family home safely and effectively for much longer.
Exercise and increased activity help to reduce stress levels and improve mental well-being by increasing endorphin levels (the ‘feel good’ hormones). Low-impact exercises are gentle on the joints and muscles while still providing an adequate level of physical activity. These types of exercises are also beneficial for improving balance which is vital for maintaining stability as you age.
Simple Activity Like Walking Can Be Helpful
For those already with chronic illnesses and other aging-related problems, the proper care will help stabilize the health issue and improve the quality of life.
Even for more elderly individuals, activity can be beneficial, according to a university study. The study author, Dr. Moo-Nyun Jin of Inje University, South Korea, says the research showed that those 85 and above who walked for at least one hour per week had a lower risk of dying from any cause or of cardiovascular disease than their inactive counterparts.
Identifying the minimum amount of exercise that can benefit the oldest old is an important goal since recommended activity levels can be difficult to achieve. Our study indicates that walking even just one hour every week is advantageous to those 85 years and older compared to being completely inactive. The take-home message is to keep walking throughout life.
It's important to remember that any form of physical activity is beneficial regardless of your age or fitness level. Even if there are limitations due to age or existing health conditions, it's essential to talk with your doctor about what type of exercise may be appropriate for you or an older family member.
In-Home Caregivers Encourage Good Habits
The doctor can work with the caregiver and other health care professionals to keep you or a loved one active within the limits of age and health.
Kinder says that we often do not listen to those closest to us. Just remember when your parents gave you all that good advice you did not always take to heart.
Having a caregiver in the home to assist and gently encourage can often be the difference between a 'no' and even a begrudging 'yes.' A well-put-together exercise and balance program can be both effective and simplistic, easy to follow, and non-strenuous while also building balance, endurance, and strength.
Staying physically active when older can help stabilize aging and health problems that come with growing old such as arthritis or chronic pain from osteoporosis or other conditions related to aging.
Physical Activity Fights Memory Problems
Regular exercise helps reduce inflammation which is a common cause of pain and stiffness associated with many age-related illnesses. In addition, regular exercise has been shown to help improve cognitive function, which has been linked to a decrease in risk factors associated with dementia.
Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, says exercise can also help boost an individual’s thinking skills. Several studies have revealed that those who exercise regularly have greater brain volumes than those who don't, particularly in the regions of the brain that govern thought and memory.
Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions.
Living an active lifestyle and frequently exercising, according to Kinder, leads to a variety of mental health benefits and even reduces stress. Exercise is shown to help fight depression when muscle-generated mood boosters become active.
Maintaining activity levels may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, and exercise is linked to improved cognitive function and better motor skills. Physical activity is also associated with lowering the risk of vascular dementia in seniors. Additionally, for many seniors having an active social life can be difficult, and a professional caregiver can help fill that gap.
One study showed that regular physical therapy can be helpful in several age-related health problems. Chun-Jung "Phil" Huang, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Health Promotion at Florida Atlantic University's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, says the beneficial effects of regular physical exercise to alleviate inflammation and oxidative stress are well-established.
Regular physical activity is suggested to be an effective intervention in improving age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia or muscle loss and dynapenia or loss of muscle strength, cardiovascular diseases, and type II diabetes.
By staying physically active when older, you can maintain independence for longer periods of time without having to rely on others for assistance due to decreased mobility or other limitations caused by aging or existing health conditions.
Trained In-Home Caregivers Can Make a Difference
Once someone needs help with daily activities or supervision due to dementia, properly trained caregivers will work to keep the care recipient active.
Kinder says that quality long-term care services will assist the care recipient in staying active and enjoying life. From taking a walk and exercising to accompanying them to their favorite community activities, caregivers can be with them every step of the way. Additionally, they can be the bridge for any technology gaps and help with activities like virtual meetings, playing cards or board games, or any activity the care recipient enjoys. Socialization can become easier with a caregiver's presence, making them a valuable ally for seniors at home!
For the care recipient, it increases their sense of self-worth by allowing them more control over their own life and activities despite any limitations they may have due to old age or existing health conditions. When older adults can stay at home, many will feel much better about the aging process despite needing assistance from a caregiver.
Long-Term Care Costs Rising
Quality care is essential for a better quality of life, and most people prefer to remain at home. However, long-term health care costs are increasing at an alarming rate, and traditional health insurance, including Medicare, will only pay a fraction of the costs.
Nursing home costs remain the most expensive but assisted living and in-home care services are also increasing due to labor shortages, higher labor costs, and inflation. The costs do vary depending on the services required and where someone lives, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator.
With costs increasing in the years and decades ahead, if you want to ensure access to quality care, it will take money, and your retirement accounts can quickly be drained without planning.
If you are 55 years old today, how will you address the future costs and burdens of aging and declining health without placing a burden on family members?
LTC Insurance Provides Funds for Quality Care Choices
The solution for many people is Long-Term Care Insurance. The guaranteed tax-free resources to pay for the quality care you need and deserve without burdening those you love.
For older adults, it might be too late since LTC Insurance is medically underwritten. Most people start planning in their 40s and 50s. A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can match you based on age, health, and family history to find the most affordable options.
Specialists represent the top companies, and they all have different underwriting standards and pricing. The specialist can offer accurate quotes from all these companies along with professional recommendations.
We can't prevent aging. Most people want to avoid becoming a burden on loved ones. Planning will help ensure quality care and a better quality of life as we age.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
Aging happens, and as we get older, we will experience changes in our health, body, and mind. Long-Term Care Insurance is an important tool for protecting yourself against the costs and burdens of long-term health care as you get older.
This type of insurance provides access to quality care, allowing you to choose the right care for your situation and maintain your quality of life even as your physical and cognitive health worsens.
You maintain control over the type and location of your care. The guaranteed tax-free benefits will pay for all levels and types of long-term care services, including in-home care.
An LTC policy will help cover the costs of long-term care services without draining your savings or burdening your loved ones. It's a great way to ensure that you have the resources you need to enjoy your retirement without worrying about costly long-term care expenses.
Affordable LTC Insurance is the solution many families will use to give the entire family peace of mind. However, LTC Insurance is medically underwritten. That means you must have reasonably good health to get coverage. The ideal time to add an LTC policy to your retirement plan is in your 40s or 50s. Most people get their policy in their 50s.
Variety of Plans
There are a variety of different long-term care solutions that are available. One of which will best fit your situation based on your age, health, family history, and budget.
Questions? LTC NEWS Has Answers
LTC NEWS has many tools and resources that can help you in your research as you prepare for your future retirement and plan for the costs and burdens of aging and declining health.
Loved Ones Need Help Now?
Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. LTC NEWS has teamed up with Amada Senior Care to offer free, no-cost, or obligation claims processing.
If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea.
If your parent or parents need assistance now, be sure to get them quality care in the setting they desire. LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.
Start by reading our four guides -
The Benefits of Today's Reverse Mortgages
Some people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for quality in-home care, pay for LTC Insurance, and even assist with cash flow during retirement.
Yes, today's reverse mortgages may be the perfect way to pay for a Long-Term Care Insurance policy or even cover the cost of in-home care if you or a loved one is currently in need.
Asking an expert with your questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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