Health Tips for the Aged

Health Tips for the AgedIn old age, the metabolism of your body is disturbed, immunity decrease and disease seem to attack simultaneously. A person is considered old at 60 or above when his/her activity becomes slow and the way of life becomes sedentary. In this article there is a discussion about the general problems of this age and some useful hints to overcome such problems.

If you are over 50, you might need certain supplements.

  • Vitamin B12-2.4 mcg (micrograms) of B12 each day.

  • Calcium-1200 mg (milligrams), but not more than 2500 mg a day.

  • Vitamin D-400 IU (international units) for people age 51 to 70 and 600 IU for those over 70, but not more than 2000 IU each day.

  • Iron-extra iron for women past menopause who are using hormone replacement therapy (men and other postmenopausal women need 8 mg of iron).

  • Vitamin B6-1.5 mg for women. This vitamin is needed for forming red blood cells and to keep you healthy.

Since the energy requirements are low in old age reduction in calories is recommended. The quantity of food taken at a time should be decreased because the capacity to digest and tolerate meals decrease. This is because the senses of smell and taste are less active and there is less secretion of gastric juices.

Health Tips for the AgedThough the total food intake is lowered the requirements of most nutrients remain unaltered. Therefore it becomes important to provide adequate amounts of all the nutrients within the decreased energy levels. Hence carbohydrates, fats, protein and vitamins are accordingly increased or decreased to provide the required energy and food.

  • Fat intake should be decreased and taken according to energy requirements for specific body weight.

  • Protein should neither be decreased nor increased. They should be taken as before. i.e, one gram per kilo body weight.

  • Iron is also recommend in similar doses as before i.e, micrograms per kilo body weight or about 28-30 mg of iron per day. Women after menopause do not lose blood so only the normal loss needs to be compensated.

  • Extra calcium is very necessary especially for post - menopausal women. Due to hormonal changes there is continuous loss of bone calcium and bone de-mineralization is much faster than the bone mineralisation process. Hence bones are more prone to fractures. Hipbone fracture is very common in elderly females who may slip while bathing.

  • Most vitamin requirements are not affected by ageing, except incase of Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin. As per the decrease in energy requirements there is a decrease in the required amounts of intake.

  • Vitamin D is normally not required in extra doses but for bedridden elders it is very essential to get sunshine especially after a little massage which helps in absorption of vitamin D.

  • Rich fried foods, cereals, starches, sweets chocolates creams and butter should be avoided. Instead fruit vegetables, milk and milk products (not concentrated) should be preferred.

  • Constipation is a common problems among the elderly due to reduced muscle tone of the gastrointestinal tract. Soft low-fibre diet and insufficient fluid intake also influence this. Dietary fibre is beneficial in various conditions associated with ageing such as constipation, diabetes and heart disease.

  • Inability to chew due to ill-fitted dentures or absence of teeth is one of the major problems. The diet should be soft and spongy so that it does not hurt the gums. Fluid diet like milk products, custard, kheer, boiled eggs, vegetables (well cooked and steamed), grated salad, soft fruit like banana, chikoo and oranges should be preferred.

  • As the appetite usually declines the food should be colorful, attractive and tasty and served in a pleasant way to arouse the appetite.

  • Even though, salad and vegetables have to be grated they should be included for their fibre.

  • Health Tips for the AgedRaised blood pressure is a very common problems due to diminished renal function. This leads to a restricted fat and salts intake.

  • Diabetes occurs to the impaired ability of the elderly, to utilize carbohydrates because of the decreased sensitivity of cells to insulin. Low carbohydrates, especially glucose, is recommend.

  • Women suffer from post - menopausal symptoms after cessation of menstruation due to hormonal changes. Some of the symptoms are loss of skin elasticity, smaller breast size, weight changes, insomnia, hot flushes, high blood pressure, vaginal dryness, alternations in sexual desire, painful intercourse resulting in stress, anger etc.

  • Another major risk is osteoporosis which is due to oestrogen deficiency that occurs with menopause. Women who take oestrogen hormone after menopause maintain bone density. But once a woman is on hormones, withdrawal is more harmful because bone density is then lost rapidly and chances of hip and wrist fracture increase. Combinations of oestrogen and progesterone help protect the bone and reduce risk of fracture. Women having breast cancer, vaginal bleeding with unknown cause, uterine cancer, liver disease and gall - stones should not take hormones. A physical examination including a normal pelvic examination pap's smear and mammography, is necessary before putting a patient on hormone therapy. Effects of hormone replacement such as, nausea, headaches, bloating and breast enlargement may cause enough irritation for a woman to stop her hormone. Altering the dose to type of hormones can decrease these symptoms. Women mostly prefer not to take hormones. In such cases symptomatic treatments has to be done. For examples in case of hot flushes and high blood pressure medications of high blood pressure helps.

  • Risk of fracture due to reduction in bone density can be offset by high calcium diet supplements with vitamin D.

  • Smoking causes extra wrinkles. Once this is stopped loss of skin elasticity is reduced.

  • Regular weight bearing exercise restrict weight changes.

  • New studies, have revealed that if a woman, 70 years of age follows a daily exercise programme for one year she can get back the strength and flexibility of a woman 40 years of age. Exercise only for two minutes initially and gradually increase the duration. In between relax for a few minutes. You can perform Shavasan after exercising. Warm- up is a must before starting the exercise. You may do this by walking for 5-6 minutes.

Dated 05 March 2015


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