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Making age-appropriate resolutions

Community: Three experts give advice to seniors for setting their nutrition, fitness and legal goals

Posted: December 19, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: December 19, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 


2012 is just around the corner, and with it comes New Year’s resolutions.

Setting goals is important at any age, but for seniors, staying active, eating right and making sure your affairs are in order is especially crucial.

Ready to get started? Here, local experts give their advice on the top steps seniors can take to make sure 2012 is a memorable year for all the right reasons.

Nutrition

When it comes to food, Clarissa Mantle, clinical nutrition manager at Valencia’s Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, knows what it takes to stay healthy within any dietary restrictions.

She recommended that seniors start the path to better nutrition by getting a medical checkup, including blood pressure and cholesterol tests. A dental checkup to make sure gums and teeth are healthy is a good move, too.

After that, Mantle offered the following tips:

* Take small steps. You don’t have to do everything at once. One easy thing to focus on is eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in fat and calories, yet high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

* Reducing foods that are high in sodium, sugar and fat, such as processed snacks, can have a significant benefit on health and well-being.

* Eat whole grains instead of refined white breads and cereals. Whole grains are higher in fiber, which helps people stay regular.

* Make sure to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. With age, the sense of thirst diminishes. A good tip is  eight 8-ounce glasses, making sure to count juice and even some fruits in the equation. Coffee and tea do not count, as they have a diuretic effect.

* Go through your kitchen cupboards, refrigerator and freezer, and toss out any expired foods. Do the same with expired medications.

Fitness

At Results Fitness in Newhall, professional trainer Rachel Cosgrove helps clients from 18 to 80 get in the best shape possible.

According to Cosgrove, there are four components of fitness that get lost due to aging and have to be trained in order to maintain them.

* Flexibility — To combat loss of limberness, incorporate stretches into a daily routine. Start with stretching the hips and extending outward to the limbs.

* Power — This includes the ability to move quickly and powerfully, which is needed in situations such as trying to quickly catch yourself from falling. Some examples of power exercises include squatting up and down as fast as you can, or stepping onto a step, driving through the supporting leg and lowering back down. Once fitness has progressed, jumping and hopping through squat jumps and single leg hops can be incorporated.

* Strength — To reverse the aging process, lifting weights can act like a fountain of youth. Most people lose muscle every year, so gaining muscle helps to reverse the aging process. Perform strengthening exercises for the core, hips and back along with the upper and lower body two to three times a week.

* Balance — Maintaining balance can help prevent falls and other accidents. Start by timing yourself as you balance on one leg. Work on improving your time each day. (Balance for Life at www.unlimitedathlete.com is a great DVD on this topic).

Legal affairs

For ultimate peace of mind, and security for your loved ones, making sure your legal documents are up-to-date is a fantastic way to start off the new year, according to elder law attorney Jane McNamara.

At a minimum, McNamara noted, this should include a durable power of attorney, advance health care directive, and HIPAA release. She also offered the following advice:

* Give a copy of your advance health care directive and HIPAA release to your agent named in the document.  Put a copy on your refrigerator for easy access in the event of a medical emergency.

* Review your assets.  Make sure beneficiaries are designated, or the assets are titled in the name of your living trust.

* Read your legal documents to make sure they reflect your wishes, and make sure the documents contain provisions for long-term care issues.

* Create a binder with your important information, and show it to your trusted family members.  The binder should contain a copy of Medicare/insurance cards, doctor’s names and contact information, list of prescription medications, location of safety deposit box, information about military service and/or pension information and a copy of your power of attorney and advance health care directive.

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