By Jane Sandwood
The cost of healthcare in America is staggering—$3.4 trillion are spent each year. The average working-age person in 2010 spent $6,125 on healthcare. In comparison, the average senior (65 or older) spent $18,424—triple the amount. This cost keeps growing as you age, doubling between the ages of 70 and 90. The average medical expenses of an American in his/her 90s exceeds $25,000 a year, which is not an insignificant amount.
As we age, our bodies have different limitations and requirements, and can develop problems which need medical attention. While some of this is inevitable, an active lifestyle and healthy diet can go a long way to maintaining your health, and hopefully reducing the amount—and cost—of medical care.
The Benefits of Healthy Living
Many studies show that maintaining a good diet in your senior years helps to reduce the risks of several conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. It’s also important to remember that, while your daily caloric needs decrease, you need the same amount of, if not more, of the nutrients from food. Your body becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients in your senior years, and certain socioeconomic factors can impact the amount and nutritional quality of the food that you eat. This makes a carefully planned approach to senior nutrition very important.
Making the Changes
Talk to your doctor about what your specific needs and deficiencies might be, as some supplements can be prescribed to help. With a well-planned and varied diet, most people should be able to enjoy a tasty and exciting meal plan which also meets their nutritional needs.
Make sure to consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids. These help to reduce inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, arthritis, and certain cancers. They can be found in particular types of fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
Over time, the calcium requirement increases and is vital for healthy bones. Dairy milk or fortified non-dairy options can provide much of this nutrient; leafy greens such as kale are great for topping up.
Keep an eye on the amount of salt in your diet. Too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure.
Staying well hydrated is also important for seniors, as the thirst reflex is often not as strong in old age.
A well-balanced diet, combined with an active lifestyle, is important for any senior to help the transition into later years go more smoothly. And, if it can help to reduce the high costs of healthcare along the way, it’s an obvious choice for all.
Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer with over 10 years of experience across many fields. Jane has a particular interest in issues relating to elder care, mental health, diet, and fitness.