Modern medicine and better nutrition mean we are enjoying longer lives than ever before. But as we enter the later stages of life, we know how important it is to anticipate the challenges of ageing. While we want to relish the many years ahead of us, everyday aches and pains, as well as increasing issues with mobility, can make life more burdensome.
An AARP survey has found that 88% of those 65 and older would like to stay in their homes as long as possible, and there are many ways you can savour a long and happy life at home. From installing a walk-in shower or walk-in bath, to adopting some simple habits, you can keep yourself safe, strong and independent.
If you want to keep your body strong and mobile, try out our favourite leg exercises for the elderly:
Before we start, we recommend wearing loose and comfortable clothing and keeping a water bottle to hand.
Sitting Leg Exercises for the Elderly
If you’ve not done much physical exercise for a while, or struggle with your balance, why not try these brilliantly simple leg strengthening exercises that can be performed from your chair:
Before you start, choose a chair without arms if you can, and make sure it is stable and solid. Your feet should be able to sit flat and securely on the floor, with your knees bent at 90 degrees.
Stand Up, Sit Down
This simple exercise can be a great way to relieve stiffness and strengthen the surrounding tissue of your knee joints.
Step 1: Sit on the edge of your chair, with your hands resting on the seat, feet hip-width apart, and begin to learn forwards very slightly.
Step 2: Before you slowly stand up, keep your eyes forward and plant your feet firmly into the floor.
Step 3: Use your legs to stand upright, before slowly sitting back down.
You can aim for about 5 repetitions here, and the slower you go the better as it will make your legs work harder.
For those who want to improve their hip mobility and cardiovascular strength.
Step 1: Sit tall with your shoulders resting against the back of a chair and your feet hip-width apart.
Step 2: Hold the edges of the chair and tighten your stomach muscles.
Step 3: Lift your left leg as high as you comfortably can whilst keeping your knee bent and your foot flexed. Return your foot back to the floor while lifting your right leg.
Repeat 20 marches alternating each leg. Once completed, take a break and repeat 2-4 more times. Continue for more than 20 marches if you want to increase your heart rate further and challenge your cardiovascular system.
Seated Leg Extensions
This exercise will really help to strengthen the muscles around your knees, improving your stability and supporting your knee joints.
Step 1: Sit up tall with your back straight and eyes facing forwards.
Step 2: Hold the edge of your seat while you slowly extend your left leg out in front of you (bending from your knee, not your hip). Only lift your left foot up as far as is comfortable while keeping the back of your left thigh on the seat.
Step 3: Lower your left toes back to the ground before repeating the extension 5 more times.
Once you have completed 5 repetitions, repeat this exercise with your right leg. This is best performed slowly, concentrating on flexing your thigh muscles.
Standing Leg Exercises for the Elderly
This is a great exercise for keeping yourself mobile and boosting your coordination.
Step 1: Rest your hands on the back of the chair for stability, with your feet hip-width apart.
Step 2: Bend your knees as far as is comfortable, aiming to get your knees in line with your toes.
Step 3: Slowly stand back up before repeating.
When you perform this movement try and be mindful to keep your knees in line with your feet as your knees will likely want to drop into your midline.
Sideways Leg Lift
This exercise will help strengthen the muscles surrounding your hips, helping to improve your coordination and stability.
Step 1: Rest your hands on the back of the chair with your feet hip-width apart.
Step 2: Keeping your toes facing forward, lift your left leg out to the side, as much as is comfortable to do so.
Step 3: Slowly return your left foot to the starting position, the slower the better.
Repeat this movement five times before switching to your right leg.
This is a great exercise to improve your balance and strengthen your glutes.
Step 1: Rest your hands on the back of a chair with your feet at hip-width apart and toes facing forwards.
Step 2: Keep your foot flexed and your eyes facing forwards as you lift your left leg back as far as is comfortable while maintaining an upright posture.
Step 3: Hold this for 5 seconds, making sure not to arch your back. You should feel tension in your buttocks as this is the muscle that should be doing all the work.
You can repeat this 5 times for the left leg before switching to the right.
This movement will help to strengthen your calf muscles while improving your balance.
Step 1: Rest your hands on the back of a chair to maintain your stability.
Step 2: Lift both heels off the floor as far as is comfortable and hold for 5 seconds
Step 3: Return your heels to the floor in a slow and controlled manner to get the most from this exercise.
To get the most out of these exercises we recommend practising twice a week. This will help you improve your strength, balance and coordination. You can build yourself up slowly, starting with smaller repetitions, and increasing them over time. It is also a good idea to get the all-clear from your GP before starting any new fitness routine.
Ever wondered what the recipe is to a long, healthy and happy life? Well, as it turns out, there isn’t a one size, fits all approach. In fact, the varying degrees of life advice from old people all around the world is a shining example of just how many options there are to live your best and most satisfying life.
Of course, some may be a little more unorthodox than others. From the late supercentenarian, Susannah Mushatt Jones – who attributed her 116 years of age down to a daily serving of bacon to Ephraim Engleman, the doctor who worked right up until 100 years of age, discounting the need for exercise, vitamins or “going to a lot of doctors, either.” There are all sorts of pearls of wisdom out there.
If you’re looking for life advice from those who’ve been there and done that? Keep reading…
Never give up on your dreams
Starting off with a proverbial bang – and it may sound incredibly cheesy – this is a classic piece of life advice. You may even be reading this with a resounding nod. Because, let’s face it, we’ve all pondered at some point what could have been if we had the confidence to really go for our dreams.
But the great news? It is never too late. Take 70-year-old Diana Nyad – the inspirational woman who overcame much adversity and – who, at the age of 64 years old became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage for protection. A key piece of life advice from Diana? “We should never ever give up; you’re never too old to chase your dreams.”
Need further proof? Great-grandmother, Georgina Harwood, decided to up the ante once becoming a certified centenarian. How so? By celebrating such an occasion with a skydive, shark dive and hike up Cape Town’s Table Mountain.
While we’re not suggesting that every dream needs to be of such a high calibre, it does shine a light on how at any age if you put your mind to it, you can achieve something you’ve always wanted to. As 75-year-old Motivational Speaker, Les Brown simply put, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
Try to keep active
One of the most sage pieces of life advice from those who’ve lived it and learned it is to keep moving. Whether it’s a walk, run or hike up a mountain, it can be crucial to living a longer life.
But it’s never too late to increase your steps and get moving.
An inspiring example of this is 99-year-old war veteran, Captain Sir Thomas Moore, who raised a staggering £15m for NHS staff after reaching his goal of walking 100 laps of his garden during the pandemic. Showing just how much our bodies are capable of when we put our minds to it, it highlights that even in the most unprecedented and challenging of times, it’s important to keep going.
Studies show that those who employ a greater sense of optimism are more likely to live longer and achieve something called “exceptional longevity” What does that mean exactly? Living to age 85 or older. Interested? The study also highlighted that people who had the highest optimism scores had a lifespan of roughly 9% longer than people with lower scores.
With an exceptional amount of negativity seemingly suffocating us at times, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of optimism or a general expectation that good things will happen, but the benefits speak for themselves.
From the ability “to regulate emotions and behaviour and bounce back from stress and difficulties more easily,” the research also showed that optimistic people tended to have healthier habits which could extend their lifespan.
This can be tricky because if you’ve reached a certain time in your life, you may not be sure of the best way to utilise your time. Old habits and lifelong commitments can pose a problem. If that’s the case, how do you go about changing this? Confused? Great. That’s an excellent place to start.
The first step in assessing how to make the best use of your time is to see what else you’re dealing with, right? So, pick up an organiser, jot down all the activities, events and commitments you’ve signed up to and see what you’re left with. The rest is down to you.
That’s not to say it will be an easy task. With so many distractions around us, life can be, well truly and utterly exhausting. But the good thing is that you get to decide which path you want to go down. Whatever it may be, from picking up a new hobby, meeting new people or making adjustments to your home life, it’s important to set goals and work in ways in which you can achieve these.
85-year-old, world-class record-breaker athlete, Flo Meiler is a great example of this. Deciding to take up track and field at the age of 60, after watching the pole vaulting competition at the Senior Olympics, she had a thought, “They weren’t pole vaulting very high. And I said to myself, you know, I think that I could do better than that.”
Not into Pole Vaulting? No problem. Find out what you want to do with your time and take the necessary steps to make it happen. Channel Flow when you channel life advice. Why not you? Why not anyone? Life is what you make it, after all.
Take time for yourself, every day
From social commitments to home life and everything else that sits in between, the day can come and go without you even taking a moment’s thought for yourself. But it’s important to slow it down and schedule in some “you time” every day. Why? The benefits speak for themselves.
Not only can it refresh and re-energize your mind and body, but it can also improve your self-esteem and give you a more improved sense of purpose over time. And don’t ever let age put you off indulging in “you time”, as well as remembering that self-care can come in many forms – even in the way you get dressed every day.
It’s important to remember that taking time for yourself isn’t a competition and doesn’t always have to be a huge new venture. Sometimes it’s a moment to put your feet up, pop on your favourite guilty pleasure, whether it’s a TV show, song or opening up a chapter in a book. You may even decide to sink into a luxurious bubble bath. That may very well be the best use of your “you time” at that moment.
Embrace your individuality
Hands up. How many of us have spent time questioning our identity? Our quirks, our habits, our emotions, behaviours and thoughts? We thought so.
Embracing your individuality and owning yourself is largely about acceptance. And it can often be a struggle to get there. But it’s important to know that it’s not just about accepting and loving the parts you like and admire about yourself. It’s also to do with the parts you may not be so keen on. The parts that you worry might hold you back or stop you from achieving what you think it is you might want.
It can be a long road but a crucial piece of life advice is that once you stop focusing on your perceived weaknesses and instead realise that these are the exact things that make you the complex, unique and wonderful individual you are, the more fulfilled and rich your life will be.
“The things that make you unique, the things your mother wants to change about you, the things that make you so different from those you go to school with, are the very things that will bring you success, happiness and a modicum of real fame. The things that will make a difference to the world. The things that will give you a richly textured and deeply happy life.
You are not weird, you are actually quite special. Keep it up, do not swerve from your ideals, and…do not despair!”
At Mobility Plus we believe cooking & baking are important pieces of the wellness puzzle, but in the age of convenience these skills are sometimes side-lined, especially as we age. However, making magic in the kitchen can have benefits beyond what just appears on your plate.
As well as developing our cooking skills, studies into cooking interventions have been shown to improve health and manage our weight control. Research has also shown cooking at home can improve outcomes in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Here are some other amazing benefits of baking and cooking to inspire you to bring out your spatula!
Stress is a common problem and not just for the elderly! Unfortunately, we now know chronic stress is harmful to health and can be particularly hazardous for older adults. There are many benefits of baking for stress reduction. Baking takes time, requires your attention and uses repetitive techniques such as stirring or chopping, which can be extremely meditative. Movements such as kneading bread have been shown to reduce levels of anxiety. Furthermore, research shows starting then finishing a project (or bake) increases happiness.
Food is extremely emotive and for many people triggers positive memories of celebration or familiarity of family. Whether it’s memories of cooking with a grandparent or baking treats for your own loved ones, the smell of fresh bread or a traditional favourite dinner is a powerful trigger. This can help to stimulate memory centres, which is particularly supportive for those suffering with or aiming to prevent neurodegenerative diseases of the brain such as dementia.
Control your ingredients
Possibly one of the clearest benefits of cooking your own food is that you can choose exactly what is going into your body. When we buy fast, convenient, or pre-packaged foods we are often subject to higher levels of sodium, sugar, preservatives and artificial flavourings – all proven to be damaging to our health. However, the benefit of cooking for ourselves allows us to include more nutrient dense foods and control ingredients we need to be mindful of.
Many people lose their appetites as they grow older, and although the need for more calories decreases, it is still extremely important to continue to nourish the body to avoid disease, depression and dementia. When we cook our food, it starts a biochemical reaction inside us, to prepare our body to take on nutrients. By doing this; smelling the ingredients, thinking about the provenance of food and looking forward to it – we increase our appetite and ready ourselves for nourishment.
Incorporating mindfulness in our lives can bring wonderful benefits to both our mental and physical health. Cooking mindfully can help you practice mindfulness techniques by focusing on the present, rather than allowing your thoughts to ruminate. Cooking mindfully involves really bringing awareness to the ingredients you are using – from choosing them in the shop to preparing them in the kitchen. Then, as you peel, chop and cook the food, you can appreciate the colours, the aromas, the sensations on your fingers, the sounds and the changing textures. Although it isn’t practical to do this every time you make a meal, by occasionally choosing mindful cooking, it can make it a more satisfying and healthful experience.
Studies have shown a link between creative expression and wellbeing. One benefit of baking is the freedom to express yourself in the kitchen. Whether it’s decorating cakes or styling a meal on a plate – you can bring colour and fun to your cooking and baking and speak to that creative part of you.
When you become more confident around ingredients and cooking skills, it no longer has to be a “follow step-by-step” activity with a strict recipe. Starting to explore cooking on your own and creating dishes really gets your creative juices going. With enough practice you can make dishes with specific tastes that you or your loved ones look forward to eating, giving you satisfaction and joy.
Variety is the spice of life
Nutritionists often recommend having a varied diet as this results in eating a greater range of the nutrients that your body needs, leading to overall better health. One study showed the benefits of cooking at home with French adults who ate a greater variety of foods than those who primarily ate out.
A great way to implement this is to get into the habit of buying ingredients (especially vegetables or wholefoods) that you have never bought or don’t usually buy. With the wonders of the internet, it has become easy to search for a recipe based around your new ingredient. This allows you to cook up a dish that you’ve never made before and have a fun time in doing so.
Eating out, takeaways and even pre-packaged food is expensive! A benefit of baking or cooking is that it allows you to keep eating low-cost by purchasing your own ingredients. Focusing on fresh wholefoods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans and grains, as well as frozen whole food and store cupboard essentials like dried foods, herbs and spices is a way to keep costs down. This money-saving strategy will improve your finances and cut down on your stress levels.
Food as medicine
As we get older, health issues often start to mount up. However, science is now showing the powerful benefits of food and nutrition in preventing and supporting the body back to health. The benefit of cooking at home is how it increases your knowledge of food. Food is so much more than just something that fills you up until your next meal.
What you eat can either cause sickness or heal the body and learning this is one of the most important aspects of home cooking. We live in the age of information and cooking your own meals can teach you which foods are high or low in certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Combining different foods into a balanced meal is a skill that can benefit our bodies with each mouthful.
It’s an act of self-love
Self-care is extremely important to long term health. We often see acts of self-care as pampering ourselves in a candlelit bath or hot shower. However, when you take time to prepare something nourishing for yourself, it’s saying that you’re important and you are prioritising yourself in that moment.
When you’re good to yourself, you might think you’re being selfish. However, self-care gives you the resources you need to be compassionate and generous to others as well. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
As you enter the later stages of life, safety becomes crucial to everyday tasks, with bathing playing a big part. General aids such as grab rails, support frames and anti-slip additions can greatly enhance bathroom safety for those struggling with mobility problems.
Here are our top 6 bathrooms accessories to help offer additional support and reduce the risks of falls or injury, so you can concentrate on enjoying a revitalising shower or slipping into that relaxing bath at the end of the day…
Foldaway shower seat
Seemingly simple everyday tasks can become that much more difficult over time, with many choosing a walk-in shower or walk-in bath as an easier choice for their bathing needs. A handy accessory when adapting to this type of everyday washing is a foldaway shower seat.
Easily mounted to the wall and neatly folded away when not in use, these types of seats make bathing safer and more comfortable, especially if you suffer from mobility issues. You can choose from a range of options, from arms and legs for added stability and a padded seat for additional comfort and support. As well as reducing the risks of slips and falls, it can also help to transform your shower into a spa-like experience.
As you approach older age, falls can start to become a serious worry, particularly when it comes to your daily bath or shower. One of the best ways to help prevent such an occurrence is to invest in an anti-slip mat.
Whether you choose to place your mat in or outside of the shower or bath, in front of the toilet or anywhere else in your bathroom where water might end up collecting, a slip-resistant mat could be the key to safer bathing. Some even come with the added plus of mildew resistance, depending on the material you opt for.
Additional grab bars
If you experience mobility problems, that relaxing treat of sinking into the bath can become a bit of a nightmare. Lowering yourself in and out of the tub can prove to be a difficult experience. In order to continue your unwinding morning or nightly ritual, one of the best accessories you can pick up are a couple of grab bars.
Inexpensive and easily fitted to the bath, as well as around the toilet for extra grip, grab bars help to maintain balance and provide an additional source of support should you encounter a slip or fall in the bathroom.
If you or someone you know is living with dementia or visual impairments, introducing a bath step can greatly assist with general bathroom safety. In addition to grab bars, this type of accessory offers a stable platform by helping to reduce the distance required to step up into the bath.
These work by gripping firmly to your bathroom floor, providing extra support when it comes to getting in and out of the bath.
Long-handled body brushes
Once safely inside your bath or shower enclosure, washing itself can become a little tricky. This is where long-handled body brushes make all the difference. From scrub brushes with bendable handles for arthritis sufferers and curved designs for those recovering from shoulder or neck injuries, there are a variety of brushes on offer.
You can also pick up longer bath brushes with soap inserts. Not only can these types of bathing accessories assist with lathering up, they can also help to lessen the chance of any nasty slips and falls.
Mobility issues and conditions that arise with older age can make essential everyday toilet trips somewhat of a challenge. This means that toilet frames are fast becoming one of the more popular bathroom accessories to assist with these difficulties.
The act of lowering onto and rising from a toilet seat can put pressure on certain areas like the knees and joints, which can become painful over time. Adding a toilet frame provides extra support with the pressure moving onto the frame. Some models come with height adjustable handles, adjustable widths and moulded seats for additional comfort.
There is currently around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040. Dementia can be truly heart-breaking for patients and their families. The condition describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 per cent of those diagnosed.
It is thought that the development of dementia can take decades, but research suggests that around a third of cases of dementia may be due to lifestyle factors that we could change. Read on to find out some simple steps we can all take to help lower our risk.
Nutritional deficiencies may be associated with dementia and cognitive decline in the elderly. The Typical Western Diet, full of processed grains, refined sugars, and high in industrial fats and seed oils, doesn’t provide many nutrient-dense foods. Instead including a diet high in vegetables, fruit and healthy fat and protein sources is key to reducing your chances of dementia.
Because ‘oxidative stress’ and free radical damage contribute to dementia outcomes, diets rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene are beneficial for preventing and supporting the disease. You can find these in fresh vegetables, fruits & nuts especially blueberries, almonds, spinach, broccoli, peppers and kiwi.
The human brain is also 60 percent fat, and almost half of that fat is omega-3 fatty acid. Studies have shown a correlation with a higher intake of oily fish such as salmon or sardines (which contain omega 3) and lower risk of dementia.
Reducing sugar intake and excess snacking can also have a beneficial impact on reducing your risk. High levels of insulin are associated with poor cognition and increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Reduce stress: Stress is associated with poor memory and cognitive function and also increases inflammation which is thought to impact dementia. Trying daily stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and relaxing therapies can reduce your risk.
Optimize sleep: A build-up of Amyloid-beta Plaques in the brain are a hallmark sign of dementia. The plaques build up, destroy synapses between nerve cells and cause cognitive impairment. However, sleep helps to clear amyloid-beta. By ensuring you prioritise sleep, you are allowing your body’s natural defence against dementia.
Get Moving: Daily movement can support healthy insulin levels, which reduces your risk of dementia, as well as having many other benefits. Exercise also stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), also known as ‘miracle grow for the brain’; which plays a crucial role in learning, memory, and mood regulation.
Use your brain: Challenging your mind has long and short-term benefits. It can include anything from taking a class at a local college or online, doing a puzzle, painting or playing a card game.
Stay social: Research links social isolation to a higher risk of dementia. Keeping socially active by connecting with other people, joining clubs or volunteering can be a good way to feel happier, healthier and more positive.
Reduce alcohol & quit smoking: Some studies have found a link between regularly drinking too much alcohol and an increased risk of dementia. Long-term heavy drinking is also known to cause specific alcohol-related dementia, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS) therefore cutting down your drinking to once or twice a week can have a major impact on your cognitive health.
There are also many good reasons to stop smoking due to the links to multiple medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke. Evidence also shows that smoking increases your risk of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
While it’s never too late to make positive changes, keeping yourself healthy in your forties and fifties seems to be particularly important for helping to lower your risk of dementia.
We all know exercise has many health benefits, but what if you have arthritis? Many people who suffer with arthritic pain are reluctant to exercise in case it makes their condition worse. However, the benefits of working out are abundant and can even ease some of the symptoms.
To begin with, the endorphins released by a good exercise session can reduce your pain.
If you have excess weight to lose, exercise can help you achieve this and over time this will ease stress on your aching joints. Additionally, the stability, mobility and flexibility you can gain can also ease all of your symptoms.
There’s no single exercise that has proven to be the magic bullet however, but instead a mix of different exercises seem to have the most benefits. By switching between different types of exercise it is more likely to keep your muscles and surrounding tissues strong, crucial to maintaining support for your bones.
Ready to get started? Here’s our top 4 great ways to work out with arthritis;
These exercises are thought to relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through the full range of motion they were designed to do. These exercises should include movements like shoulder rolls, raising your arms over your head, stretching and movements that take joints through their full span. A great way to incorporate this is using dance classes like Zumba or something slightly gentler like Tai Chi. In most cases, doing these types of exercises daily can help maintain and improve the flexibility in the joints.
These types of exercises help improve and maintain muscle strength. Strong muscles are needed to support and protect joints that are affected by arthritis. Using a resistance band is a great way to build muscle and give the body a challenge using your body weight. Pilates or Yoga stretches the spine and strengthens muscles. Furthermore, using deep breathing and stress relieving techniques promotes a healthy immune system and can reduce joint inflammation.
It may also be a good idea to seek out support from a physical therapist for a specific weight training programme. Weight training can help you to maintain or increase your muscle strength, focusing on specific muscle groups. With a good programme you will avoid over exertion exercising the same muscle groups two days in a row.
When starting a strength-training program, a three-day-a-week program is recommended to help you jump-start your improvement, and then maintaining two days a week after that point.
Aerobic or endurance exercise
These exercises are well known to help with your overall fitness. They help you control your weight, improve your cardiovascular health, and give you more energy and stamina.
Because aerobic exercises strengthen the heart and make the lungs more efficient, they reduce fatigue, whilst also helping to increase the number of calories the body uses. Great ways to include this kind of exercise are jogging, cycling, swimming or using a cross trainer in the gym. Walking is also included but you should walk fast enough or uphill so you can get slightly out of breath, at the same time as being able to maintain a conversation.
To make it easier on your joints you may want to do aerobic or endurance exercise in 10-minute blocks across the day. Try to include this type of exercise most days of the week, however, even a couple of days can still be beneficial.
Low Impact Water-Based Exercise
These are particularly helpful for people who have significant joint pain by helping to keep joint stress low while you move. The water’s buoyancy can relieve the pressure of your body weight on the affected joints, whilst also providing resistance so your muscles get stronger.
Aquatic exercises can also be beneficial for people just beginning to exercise or for those who are overweight. Instead of swimming, these types of exercises are performed while standing in shoulder-height water. Try a lap in the pool (usually 4-feet deep), walking from one side of the pool to the other at a brisk pace. Many health centres also have an underwater treadmill, so you can adjust the speed of the exercise.
Check with your doctor first
Whichever type of exercise you choose, talk to your doctor about fitting these into your treatment plan. The exercises that are best for you depends on which joints are involved and your type of arthritis. Your doctor or a physical therapist can then work with you to find the exercise plan that gives you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.