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Senior Health

My mother

09/30/2008

Question:

My mother is in her late 60`s and is still in great health. She stays active by walking and chasing around her grandchildren. I would like to know if there are ways that I can help her maintain her healthy lifestyle. I would like her to be as happy and healthy as she can be for as long as she can!

Answer:

This is a great question because it indicates an understanding of the importance of activity in maintaining health and wellbeing and a desire to help your mother stay well. While physical activity, such as exercise, is only one component of a wellness plan at every age, it is very important.

Suggestions to maintain and enhance overall health and wellness involve consideration be given to the holistic model that includes a focus on the body, mind and spirit connection. Traditionally, most health education is focused on physical aspects such as diet, exercise, proper nutrition and dental care, all are important aspects for a healthy lifestyle.

Even though aging brings a greater risk of illness and most health teaching is focused on how to stay physically well, we need to give equal consideration to the complex nature of human beings that includes several aspects:

All of these components interact to influence the balance of our wellbeing.

Your mother’s active lifestyle indicates she is making a personal choice to enhance her health. It is important for family members to support her current actions and encourage her to also maintain her social connections such as involvement with her family and others, towards enriching her state of social wellbeing. Promote your mother’s attention to the emotional and intellectual aspects of her life that involves tuning into her feelings and managing stress, along with encouraging mental stimulation that is available from reading, keeping up with current events, utilizing “brain” gym exercises such as puzzles and memory enhancement activities for further enrichment. Suggest she volunteer or maintain an occupation, if possible, as a great way to achieve a sense of belonging and productivity through the dignity of work. This action helps to maintain self-esteem and sense of belonging that is often compromised as we grow older.

Your mother, as each of us, needs to feel that we matter and we have a purpose in life. Encourage your mother to explore spiritual centered beliefs to enhance spiritual wellness. Promote check-ups with your mother’s primary care provider and encourage follow-up and adherence to recommendations. Given her age and opportunities to make wise decisions, your mother has the potential to add not only years to her life but “life to her years.”

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Response by:

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati