Please enjoy this guest post by Alicia Schwartz, MSN, PCC, CCM, RN of VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans
Spring is the perfect time to lighten up and spring clean – both your mood and your diet; the season provides an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, which not only taste good but are also good for you. Seniors with various health issues can especially benefit from the variety of foods available this season. Diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and heart disease are among the most common health issues afflicting seniors, and springtime provides a great opportunity to combat these illnesses with simple food choices.
As a Care Coordinator and Registered Nurse at VNSNY CHOICE, my colleagues and I help manage health care for many older New Yorkers with multiple chronic illnesses. We know that an ounce of prevention truly can be better than a pound of cure for this vulnerable population. With this in mind, we educate those in our care about how to make lifestyle changes and healthy choices. Here are a few spring health tips for you to keep in mind too!
Step Into Warmer Weather:
- Incorporating regular exercise can ease arthritis pain and other symptoms, it can also help people with diabetes and high blood pressure stay fit and healthy. Exercise can be fun! Dancing to your favorite tunes can be just as rewarding.
- Local community group exercise options offer free yoga, stretching, and resistance training that will help keep you strong and prevent functional decline. Join your local community center – it will decrease mental deterioration and depression and will also help with socialization.
- Vitamin C is a key nutrient for building healthy collagen, a major component of cartilage. Strawberries are at their peak of freshness in the Spring, and are a great source of vitamin C.
- Research has also shown that fish oil, found in fish such as salmon, may help reduce arthritis inflammation.
- Get some fresh air! Twenty minutes of sun in the early morning is a natural source of Vitamin D which is great for our bones and will help you feel great.
Stay Aware of Your Diet:
- It’s very important for diabetes sufferers to regulate blood sugar levels. Healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes—as opposed to starchy refined carbs—are the keys to a healthy diet.
- Be sure your daily meals contain protein (lean meats, like chicken and fish, or chick peas, quinoa and legumes as alternative to meat).
- Eating small, frequent meals will keep up your strength and always remember to drink plenty of water!
Fresh and Heart Healthy Lifestyle Changes:
- In most cases, high blood pressure cannot be cured, but it can be managed. It’s important to get it under good control by following the treatment plan recommended by your doctor.
- Be sure you’re eating a heart-healthy diet, which includes decreasing your sodium, fat, and sugar intake; consuming more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products; and avoiding or limiting alcohol and caffeine.
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes, five or more times per week—even a walk around the block, or down the hallway to your mailbox every day can be beneficial.
- Losing excess weight or maintaining a healthy weight—ask your doctor if losing a few pounds would be good for you.
- Get plenty of rest, quit smoking, and do your best to better manage stress.
To learn more about health plans that help elder New Yorkers live more comfortably, safely and independently in their own homes, visit www.VNSNYCHOICE.org or call 1-855-AT CHOICE (1-855-282-4642).