Why Holistic Approaches to Senior Health Matter

Reanna Jeffers
July 19, 2022
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Source: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/vital-seniors-beach-senior-couple-beach-retirement-summer-vacation-concept_13132074.htm

As people age, they experience more health risks and conditions due to their frail bodies and poor immune system. The World Health Organization outlines a few conditions associated with aging including dementia, osteoarthritis, and depression. Old age is usually accompanied by geriatric syndromes, as numerous complex health issues start to emerge. These are often the result of factors such as falls, urinary incontinence, and frailty. And with 1 in 6 people in the world to be 60 years or over by 2030, these conditions will become more prevalent. While these conditions are often manageable by medicine intake and medical

procedures, there is another way seniors can go about their health. These are called holistic approaches, which this article will discuss along with their benefits for seniors.

What is Holistic Health?

The Council of Holistic Health Educators defines holistic health as “the practice of working with the whole person to improve overall health, energy, and outlook.” Compared to using disease-based approaches like consulting a doctor and taking pills, a person who practices holistic health will use a wellness-based model to treat all the aspects of their wellbeing: mind, body, and spirit. The goal of this is to have everything functioning at the best possible level, allowing holistic practitioners to achieve maximum wellbeing. For seniors, this is something that will benefit this stage of their life. After all, aging does not only involve physical health complications, but also mental and spiritual issues among others. For instance, seniors can suffer from anxiety conditions due to isolation and the loss of loved ones.

Benefits of Holistic Health for Seniors

It improves social wellness

Socializing helps seniors maintain positive bonds and relationships with the people around them. An adult day center guide by Maryville University recommends that older adults visit these locations as it provides them with opportunities to interact with people of the same age and ability level. They can create a strong social network through these spaces that specifically cater to their social needs, improving their well-being and social health. The California Association for Adult Day Services’ website, for example, has an adult day center finder that can be utilized for this. This will especially help seniors who are experiencing sadness from isolation.

It lessens the likelihood of sickness

Holistic health approaches that cater to physical wellbeing lessen the chances of illnesses.

Regular physical activity has been known to maintain motor skills and decrease the risk of falls due to increased strength and flexibility. In our post ‘How Seniors Can Boost Their Mind, Body and Happiness’, we suggest that older adults work out periodically so they can take control of their health. This doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise, but simple ones like walking, tai chi, and yoga could do. Even gardening activities such as digging and shoveling are good options.

It keeps the brain sharp

A study on MBPs or mind-body practices among older adults from the University of South Florida concluded that MBPs are associated with the maintenance of episodic memory. The research found that these practices are connected with structural changes in brain regions that regulate cognitive functions. As such, seniors are able to recall past events more vividly and it can even help them remember simple tasks like taking their medication on time. A few mind-body practices to try are breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and massage therapy. These benefits only prove the importance of holistic approaches to seniors’ overall well-being. Try these practices today to maintain health in all aspects: mind, body, spirit, and more.

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