Independence in the Elderly

This coming August 31st marks Malaysia’s 61st year of independence. If Malaysia were a person, this would mean that it is now in its golden years. Just as Malaysia hopes to remain independent, so too do most elderly people. However, common health issues they face such as osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and high blood pressure means that they may require help from others.

The aged body is very different from a young adult’s body, as the immune system and organs within their body begin to weaken. This is especially so for people who have had previous health issues and unwise lifestyle choices. While ailments in later life may seem unavoidable, there are ways to keep your body healthy for longer, reducing pain and disability even later in life.

A Healthy Lifestyle

Eating and drinking healthily is one of the most important steps to avoiding disease in our old age. With the right diet, such as having sufficient fish, meat, nuts, fruits, vegetables while avoiding excessive alcohol, red meat, fat and salt, you can protect your immune system, while maintaining the wellbeing of your body.

However, it is important to avoid overeating, as excessive weight puts a strain on the weakened knees, hips and other joints, increasing the risk of problems such as osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of cancer and diabetes.

One way to control our weight is through regular exercise. While the elderly may feel that exercise is not for them due to their frailty, even light exercises such as walking can reduce their risk of bowel and breast cancer, heart disease and stroke, while keeping their muscles strong and healthy.

For those who are smokers, quitting is the best way to protect you and your family in your elderly years. Smoking is a very unhealthy habit that damages your body, hardens your arteries, and increases the risk of cancer, dementia and memory loss among other problems.

Finally, undergoing regular screening programmes can help to protect your independence. By detecting and treating problems in their earliest stages, you are less likely to be affected by the problem and treatment. Whether its high blood pressure and cholesterol, cancer, impaired vision or hearing loss, early screening can reduce the damage caused by these conditions and help you manage your life better.

If you’re interested in continuing to lead a self-reliant lifestyle well into your deep maturity, you can speak to your doctor to learn more about the best diet as well as suitable screening programme available. Age gracefully and live freely!