When you think about your health, it’s easy to focus only on physical health with regular check-ups, dental cleanings, healthy eating and exercise. Equally important, however, is to think about your mental health and overall wellness to achieve true holistic health. This concept of holistic health is not new and is increasingly integrated into mainstream healthcare today.
Holistic health for seniors is top of mind for many, especially senior caregivers. It’s critical for seniors to focus on and achieve holistic health, as their health needs shift, and major life changes – such as the death of a spouse or partner, or losing the ability to drive - can take a toll both physically and mentally.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) wants to help seniors prioritize their health and wellness from every angle to achieve true holistic health with some helpful suggestions.
1. Visit your primary care provider regularly
: Especially as we age, it’s important to have a primary care provider (PCP) who is familiar with your health, your background and your risk factors. A PCP who knows you well can often make better health recommendations and identify issues before they become bigger problems.
2. Keep your mouth clean and healthy
: Don’t forget that as you age your teeth do, too! People of all ages should visit the dentist for a cleaning twice a year. Even if you have dentures, it’s still important to see your dentist regularly. Regular cleanings help remove plaque buildup and maintaining good oral health is directly linked to the health of your whole body.
3. Practice healthy eating
: Filling your diet with unprocessed, whole foods can help seniors stay satisfied for longer, and provide them with more energy and the nutrients they need. Eating smart can also help to avoid conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and more. At each of BCBSRI’s Your Blue Store locations, you can schedule a time to speak with a registered dietician about specific needs surrounding your dietary health.
4. Stay active
: Even if seniors have trouble moving around, there are still many ways to stay fit. Yoga and meditation are great options to help seniors relax, stretch and breathe. Many senior centers also offer fitness classes like chair yoga and water aerobics to help seniors stay active.
5. Keep your mind sharp
: In addition to exercise, practicing a hobby can be extremely beneficial for the mind. Things like sewing, reading, doing puzzles or even learning a new language can help keep the brain sharp and provide seniors with new goals.
6. Meet new people
: Socializing and staying active is a big component of healthy aging, especially as social isolation can pose a threat to the senior population. Seniors can visit Your Blue Store locations to take free nutrition and fitness classes. Locations include: Cowesett Corners, 300 Quaker Lane, Warwick; Highland Commons, 71 Highland Avenue, East Providence and Lincoln Mall, 622 George Washington Highway, Lincoln. Ellen Wilson, RN, is manager of case management for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.