As the years go by, the pounds creep on. It's a common experience but being overweight isn't just another side effect of advancing age. It is possible to live out your golden years at a healthy weight, no matter your current weight.
Why Lose Weight?
In the United States, 38.5% of adults over the age of 60 are obese, according to the State of Obesity. Many more are overweight. It's easy to write off weight gain as a part of getting older, but those extra pounds can greatly impact your health and quality of life.
When you're overweight, you're at increased risk of developing high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. These are serious health conditions, but it's often easy to ignore the prospect of future health problems as long as they're not affecting you today.
Think about all the ways extra weight does affect you today. Do you feel achy or have low energy? Do you have trouble getting around or walking far? These may be minor inconveniences today, but they can grow disabling over time, especially if you suffer a fall. Reuters reports that extra weight increases seniors' fall risk by 31%.
If you want to keep enjoying life in old age, now is the time to start losing weight. But before you start cutting calories or working out, there are a few things you need to know about losing weight after 60.
Keeping Up with Nutrition
Whether you're over 60 or under 60, the basic rule of weight loss applies: You need to burn more calories than you consume. However, seniors' unique nutritional needs make it challenging to ensure proper nutrition while cutting back.
Cutting calories isn't enough. Seniors must plan their meals carefully and limit empty calories to maximize their meals' nutritional value. A healthy diet should include vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, fish, lean meat, and poultry. Be careful to drink plenty of water. Sense of thirst declines with age, so it's good practice to track your intake. You may also want to consider asking your doctor about a Wegovy prescription. This FDA-approved medication can help you lose weight alongside other healthy lifestyle changes.
For seniors, it's crucial to exercise while losing weight. Muscle loss increases as we age, and weight loss accelerates muscle loss unless you're building strength simultaneously. However, if you've been living a sedentary lifestyle, you must take it slow to avoid injury. Researchers recommend older obese adults start with a slow, moderate-intensity exercise to limit strain on weakened muscles and joints.
Incorporate both strength training and aerobic exercise into your routine; as strength and endurance builds, you'll achieve a more active lifestyle.
While maintaining muscle mass is important, it's not the only reason to exercise. Exercise also counters the negative mental health impacts of obesity. Both obesity and old age increase a person's risk for depression, and exercise is a powerful self-management tool that can improve your mood, energy, and outlook.
Getting Past Pain
The lucky few who make it to seniorhood without a lingering pain or two. And unfortunately, it's hard to find motivation for exercise when you start the day with a stiff back or a sore knee. But not only is fitness important for staying healthy, but it can also reduce the physical and mental symptoms of chronic pain.
Talk with your doctor to identify exercises to build strength without causing further pain or injury. Any diet or exercise plan should be discussed with your doctor, especially if you are over 60.
Increase Life Expectancy
According to research, people who make positive diet changes can add more years to their life. Those who change their diet from a typical Western diet to an optimized diet that includes more legumes, whole grains, and nuts, and less red and processed meat, will have better overall health and add more years to their life.
There is now a publicly available online tool called the Food4HealthyLife calculator where both professionals and individuals can calculate the positive changes in diet.
"Understanding the relative health potential of different food groups could enable people to make feasible and significant health gains. The Food4HealthyLife calculator could be a useful tool for clinicians, policy makers, and lay-people to understand the health impact of dietary choices."
Lars Fadnes of the University of Bergen, Norway, says that research has shown health benefits associated with separate food groups or specific diet patterns but given limited information on the health impact of other diet changes. Their modeling methodology, he says, has bridged the gap.
Losing weight isn't easy, especially when you've been living with the same habits for years. But it's never too late to start changing your health for the better. Follow this advice to achieve your weight loss goals safely and healthily.
Remember that better overall health does not eliminate the other issues of longevity. The older we get, the possible need for long-term health care increases. People require long-term care services due to declining health, mobility problems, dementia, and the frailty of aging.
Making positive changes to health and lifestyle, including weight loss, is beneficial. It does not eliminate the need to plan for the costs and burdens of aging.
About the Author
Ms. Bridges is the creator of www.AgingWellness.org, which aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors.
Contributor since March 7th, 2018
Having a few too many pounds also increases your risk of needing long-term care services and supports. First, you have added pressure on joints, leading to mobility problems and increased pain. Second, you have the impact of weight on other health issues like diabetes, heart, and high blood pressure.
Planning for the costs and burdens of aging should be a key part of your retirement plan. You can access quality care in your desired setting, reducing the stress and anxiety placed otherwise placed on family caregivers.
The cost of professional long-term health care is exploding nationally. The guaranteed tax-free benefits will safeguard assets, including money in retirement accounts like your 401(k).
The good news is the weight charts for Long-Term Care Insurance are reasonably generous. So, if you are a little chunky but don't have other serious health issues, you may still easily qualify for obtaining a Long-Term Care Insurance policy.
Several Reasons You Might Need LTC Services
People require long-term care for many reasons due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging. You don't have to be "elderly." to require extended care. Many younger people need care, but as we get older, the risk increases substantially.
An advance plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging will give you control, independence, and peace of mind. With a policy in place, you will have an affordable way to pay for your choice of quality care and safeguard savings and income while reducing the burdens extended care placed on loved ones.
Know the Truth: Long-Term Care Insurance is Affordable
Is Long-Term Care Insurance expensive? For most people, these plans are very affordable - How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost? | LTC News.
Premiums can vary over 100% for the same coverage. Policy design is essential to affordability. A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will match your age, health, and family history to find the best coverage at the best value. However, speak with a Long-Term Care specialist who represents the major companies.
The best time to plan is before retirement, when you may even qualify for preferred rates. Don't assume you don't qualify or are "too heavy." That could be the case but get accurate information.
Get Professional Help
Long-term care is very specialized, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the available options and match you with the best coverage at the lowest cost.
A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
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See the answers to the most asked questions here about long-term health care planning and LTC Insurance - Frequently Asked Questions.
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The cost of long-term health care is expensive and rising sharply every year. Find the cost of care where you live by using the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State.
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Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew," will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
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