Why It’s Important to Maintain a Healthy Weight as a Senior

senior exercise class

People of all ages can and do struggle when trying to maintain a healthy weight. But, as we age, we often encounter additional obstacles. Many American seniors deal with losing muscle tone due to inactivity. Seniors may also experience a slowing metabolism, which requires adjusting their daily nutrition.

Despite these challenges, seniors should focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Keeping an eye on your weight and whether it fluctuates can improve your overall health. Sustaining your ideal weight range can lower the risk of several diseases. If weight is left unchecked, you may develop high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. Monitoring your weight can also lower your chances of getting certain cancers.

Maintaining a healthy weight differs for everyone. It also means that each individual needs to do more than simply improve their healthy eating habits. The American Psychological Association’s annual “Stress in America” report found that 61% of respondents experienced some form of unwelcome weight fluctuation during the coronavirus pandemic. One way that American seniors can start working toward maintaining a healthy weight is by integrating regular activity and social health into their daily routines.

Investing in medical alert technology may help American seniors feel more secure as they begin their weight management journey. As you consider indoor and outdoor lifestyle adjustments, know that medical alert systems can travel with you. These easily accessible devices can provide American seniors with a greater sense of confidence and security.

Why Maintain a Healthy Weight?

Seniors who become overweight or obese may find themselves at a crossroads. Those who suddenly or gradually gain weight can become exposed to long-term health concerns. If you live with obesity, you can also have a greater risk of falling.

Seniors who are overweight may also experience worse fall-related outcomes that require hospitalization or long-term care. When speaking to a doctor, the practitioner may highlight the following reasons why seniors should maintain a healthy weight:

Maintaining Muscle Mass – Seniors will commonly lose muscle mass as they age. However, losing muscle mass does not need to be central to the aging process. Sticking to a healthy diet while exercising regularly can prevent bone and muscle loss. Keeping your muscles and bones healthy and strong can reduce the risk of balance problems. You will also become better equipped to avoid any physical degeneration, which could otherwise prevent you from aging in place.

Improving Physical Mobility – Seniors with a greater waist circumference will find that they have a more limited range of motion. These limitations will often prevent them from participating in their usual activities. But seniors should not accept limited mobility as a reality of aging. Exploring more healthy lifestyle habits can improve your social and emotional quality of life. You might also find that you can live independently for a longer period of time.

Enhancing Mental Health – Seniors are just as susceptible, and sometimes more susceptible, to developing depression as their younger cohorts. You or a loved one may experience increased depression if you are unable to engage in your usual physical and social activities. Finding new ways to engage with others through physical activities can significantly improve your mental health. Group exercise classes can sometimes help reduce your risk of developing depression as well.

As you rejoin social settings, wearing or carrying one of our Alert1 medical alert devices can be a great complementary safety feature. If you require assistance, our emergency response team will remain on the line with you until help arrives. 

Strategies to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Some seniors may feel that their age and biology will counteract any efforts to maintain a healthy weight. However, seniors can use the following strategies[i] throughout their weight management efforts:

·         Getting An Annual Physical – Visiting your primary care physician can help identify certain weight risk factors. These risk factors can relate both to sudden and rapid weight gain or loss. Your doctor can also discuss relevant diet and lifestyle adjustments that you can make going forward.

·         Staying Active – Try to perform as many of your daily activities on your own as possible. Seniors should also try to walk daily and join appropriate age and/or ability fitness groups. These activities can help you stay motivated to get out of the house and exercise, as long as your doctor approves.

·         Making Good Nutritional Choices – Selecting healthy meals and snacks is one common and often effective way to maintain a healthy weight range. Purchasing lean proteins, whole grains, colorful veggies, and plenty of fruit can help your weight maintenance plan. Just be sure to consult your doctor first about any personal health considerations.

·         Keeping Hydrated – Nothing hydrates quite like water. Make sure to drink plenty of water on a daily basis. Seniors who stay hydrated and active are less likely to overeat or snack.

·         Seeking Surgical Treatment – Surgery is not for everyone and is certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution to weight management. However, seniors who are classified as morbidly obese should speak with their doctors. Some seniors can benefit from procedures that reduce the stomach’s size. Afterwards, make sure to follow any doctor recommended nutritional and lifestyle changes.

Most of these strategies are cost-effective for seniors looking to maintain a healthy weight. You can also find a medical alert system that fits into your budget. At Alert1, we offer our members month-to-month contracts. We will never lock our members into long-term contracts. Similarly, we do not charge for any “false alarms” or multiple button-pushes.

Common Weight Myths

Seniors need to know the best, healthy strategies to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, older adults should make themselves aware of the many myths associated with weight. Among the biggest weight-related myths is the lack of evidence for metrics like BMI[i], or body mass index.

Researchers have conducted several studies over the last couple of decades. These studies prove the ineffectiveness of measuring individuals’ BMI. The main problem is that doctors are gauging weight rather than excess fat when measuring your BMI.

Your BMI does not take into consideration that fat gets distributed throughout your body. A doctor could therefore measure the same BMI in two people who are the same weight and height. However, one person’s weight may come from their muscle, which weighs more than excess fat.

What’s more, the International Journal of Obesity has found that BMI’s accuracy declines in certain demographic populations. These groups include senior citizens, men, and individuals who fall within the intermediate BMI ranges. Other common weight maintenance and weight loss myths include:

  • To lose weight, you have to avoid carbs. Removing carbohydrates from your diet will harm you more than help you. You will also find that your fiber intake dips without eating foods with carbs. Carbohydrate-rich foods[ii], including vegetables and whole grains, offer a foundation for healthy eating habits.
  • You can eat anything if you count calories. If anything, counting calories will make you place a greater value on quantity rather than quality. Doing so may not be optimal for your health. Look to stay in the calorie range that aligns with the fuel you burn.
  • Cutting fat helps you lose weight. People who eliminate fat all-together often find that they gain weight instead. The reason why you may gain weight is because you instead replace fats with added sugar or refined grains. Not all fats are harmful. In fact, healthy fats can speed up your metabolism.
  • Going gluten-free helps with weight management. Many gluten-free products are actually higher in calories and carbs, as well as lower in fiber. In most cases, this means you will feel less satisfied. That unsatisfied feeling can also lead to overeating more often. You should not use that sort of diet as a weight-loss or weight-maintenance strategy.
  • You should exercise in the morning. Seniors and anyone else should exercise during whatever time of day works best for them. Researchers have not indicated that a certain time of day is better for exercise[iii] than another. However, exercising late at night can make it harder to fall asleep. As a result, irregular sleep patterns can affect your weight management and daily function.

Finding your healthy weight range can be challenging on your own. Many factors, including your age, sex, and height, can influence your ideal weight range. Given that your BMI is an unreliable metric, speak with your primary care physician regarding your target weight range. What works for you may not work for someone else.

How A Medical Alert System Complements a Safe and Healthy Weight Management Program

We have discussed why seniors should monitor their weight and the strategies to help them maintain healthy weight levels. Before making any dietary or lifestyle changes, discuss your plans and goals with a qualified medical professional.

Seniors may also wish to invest in a medical alert device to provide peace of mind while embarking on a new diet or exercise plan. If you are still adjusting to a new diet, or you overexert yourself, medical alert devices ensure that help is always standing by. Alert1 devices can be used in-home or on-the-go, and are 100% showerproof.

We hope as you begin your weight management journey that you feel more confident by keeping our products nearby or on your person. Consider a medical alert system as you practice healthy weight maintenance.

 

 

 

[1] Shoemaker, Emily. 2020, June 11. The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight in Seniors. PresbyterianSeniorLiving.org. The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight in Seniors.

 

[2] Heneghan, Carolyn. 2017, April 13. BMI Myths Debunked and More Accurate Alternatives. DignityHealth.org. BMI Myths Debunked and More Accurate Alternatives.

[3] Iliades, Chris. 2010, May 25. Why Carbohydrates Are Important for Your Diet. EverydayHealth.com. Why Carbohydrates Are Important for Your Diet.

[4] Ducharme, Jamie. 2019, Feb. 27. This is the Best Time of Day to Work Out, According to Science. Time Magazine. This is the Best Time of Day to Work Out, According to Science.