As people age, it becomes increasingly important that they take good care of their health to ensure that they remain healthy and active well into old age. In this blog, we introduce some useful tips that both older adults and their children can follow to ensure healthy aging.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning and at bedtime, for about 2 minutes each time. Brush the teeth thoroughly and clean the tongue gently.
- Use other dental cleaners, such as dental toothpicks, dental floss and interdental brushes.
- Clean the dentures properly, if any.
- Removable Dentures: Remove and clean the dentures after every meal. Clean the dentures with a soft-bristle denture brush and mild dishwashing liquid and then rinse them thoroughly. Do not use any abrasive cleaning material. To remove stains and sterilize the dentures, place them in water or a denture-soaking solution. Remove the dentures at bedtime and soak them to help them remain moist.
- Fixed Dentures: Clean the dentures after every meal. Use dental floss to clean underneath the dentures and at the edge of the gum. Visit your dentist for a check-up every 6
- Schedule regular dental checkups at least once a year.
Dry skin is often a problem for older adults due to a decline in the skin’s moisturizing mechanism with increasing age, leading to symptoms of dryness, flaking skin and itching.
- Avoid very hot water and reduce the time spent in the shower or bath, as it increases the symptoms of dryness, flaking skin and itching.
- Use mild or moisturizing soaps.
- Use moisturizing cream or lotion.
- Avoid scratching. Consult a doctor if you experience any severe itching.
Preventing and Managing Constipation
- Promote regular bowel habits at the same time every day. Massage and rub the stomach gently while passing stool.
- Prevent future episodes of constipation by engaging in regular physical activity or exercise. Eat high-fiber foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, nuts and prunes. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day. Develop regular bowel habits. Evaluate and record bowel habits, characteristics and color.
- Use fiber supplements or stool softeners as advised by a doctor.
Preventing and Managing Diarrhea
- Family members should help older relatives get to the toilet promptly to avoid any leakage or loss of control. Place them in a comfortable position to ensure easy bowel movements. Have them sit on the toilet and avoid squatting. Clean and dry the area after each bowel movement, and always keep the skin clean and dry. After a bowel movement, have the elderly relative rest on their bed and take any medication as advised (if any).
- Prevent complications from lost fluids, salts and minerals. At the early stages of diarrhea, avoid eating in order to stop bowel movements. Drink rehydrating salt solutions, sugary drinks or flat carbonated drinks with a pinch of salt. Eat soft and low-fiber foods without fat when the diarrhea and vomiting have stopped. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day to replace lost fluids. Consult a doctor for intravenous fluids if there is any severe vomiting or persistent watery diarrhea.
- Look out for the warning signs of loss of fluids, salts and minerals, such as intense thirst, loss of skin turgor, palpitations, stomach pain, cramps, fatigue and dizziness.
Preventing and Managing Abdominal Bloating or Heartburn
- Avoid tight fitting clothes and activities that increase pressure in the abdomen. Engage in regular physical activity. Burp and pass gas without suppressing it. Take any medications as advised by a doctor.
- Avoid exacerbating symptoms by eating an appropriate amount of food slowly. Chew food thoroughly before swallowing. Avoid eating foods that produce gas (such as nuts, radishes, carbonated drinks, spices and spicy foods), foods that are difficult to digest, and deep-fried foods. Avoid chewing gum and candy. Avoid smoking. Do not drink while eating. Do not exercise or lie down immediately after a meal. Engage in regular physical activity.
Aging affects everyone, but by following these simple tips, you can help to ensure that you and your loved ones remain healthy and active well into old age.
By Dr. Lily Chaisompong, Internist and Specialist for Geriatric Medicine, NewLife the Healthy Aging Clinic, Bumrungrad Hospital
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