By Colleen Linari, geriatric medicine, Nuvance Health Medical Practice
If you have an aging mother, there is a good chance you play a role in her caregiving. And even though Mom always knows best, you may want advice that can help relieve stress for you both.
Here are tips to optimize your mom’s health and wellness and keep everyone happy:
Help Mom keep sharp. She should do daily activities such as crossword puzzles, reading or learning new hobbies. These steps can provide cognitive stimulation and may help ward off cognitive decline. If you are worried about Mom’s memory declining, a geriatric medicine provider may be able to help.
Encourage healthy meals. As Mom ages, it is essential she eats a balanced diet for her well-being. Her digestive system typically slows down with age, so it becomes more necessary than ever to eat high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It is also important for her to stay hydrated. She may feel less thirsty as she ages and be more prone to dehydration.
Related content: Tips for healthy aging through the years
Mom needs her Zzzzzs. Frequent waking and insomnia are common among aging women. It is important for your mom to maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid naps during the day and stay away from alcohol or caffeine in the evening. It may help for you to turn her lights lower in the evening and keep her bedroom comfortable, cool and quiet.
Movement for Mom: We all need exercise, but movement is especially key for aging women, as it can help her avoid chronic health problems, stop depression and improve energy levels, memory and sleep. Encourage Mom to do a combination of aerobic, balance, strength and other low-impact exercises in her daily routine.
Visitors for Mom: Isolation and lack of socialization among older women can lead to higher levels of depression and increase stress hormones, which can worsen existing health problems, including heart disease, weight problems and cognitive issues. Mom can stay connected through volunteer opportunities, her local senior center, or just by being with family and grandchildren.
Related content: Physical and emotional wellness checklist
In conclusion, caregiving is not easy. But you can best care for your mom by helping her remain active, boost her overall well-being, and give yourself a little less to worry about. And if Mom is being stubborn, a visit to a primary care doctor can be a great first step to maintaining health and independence with aging.
Related content: 5 tips for a healthy Dad
Colleen Linari is a primary care nurse practitioner, who works with a large elderly population in Southbury, Conn. Book now with Colleen Linari.