Fuelling your life to live alone
Today is Day 3 of our Fuel for Fitness campaign! The aim of today’s campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of exercise for older adults and a good diet to propel you through it. As we get older there are numerous reasons that can result in us living alone. Physical activity and a good diet have a key role to play in ensuring we can stay independent and active in order to live alone. Not just for your body, but your mind too!
WHY SHOULD I EXERCISE?
The physical benefits of exercise are incredible; improvements in strength, flexibility, balance, coordination etc. Never underestimate how impactful exercise can affect your mental health. Rates of loneliness and depression can be high amongst older adults and especially those living alone.
A loss of independence can be detrimental to a person’s mental health, but there’s a very simple answer which can help, exercise. Exercise can help to retain physical abilities. You are able to do daily activities such as doing the shopping and even simple things like cleaning or dressing. Simple exercises can go a long way toward ensuring physical function.
Jennifer Sweeney, 73 who lives in Howth, Dublin states “The important thing about exercise, it’s not just about the physical (shape or mobility) but it’s also about your mind, to give you the confidence and hope to be positive.”
Janet who has COPD and lives in Bray says that exercise has afforded her the ability to live on her own by ensuring she can keep fit and independent.
We encouraged older adults to exercise to counteract typical health issues.
Balance exercises – One of the most common issues faced by older adults are falls. It’s important to retain balance as you age. In a standing position, try raising your heels. Hold yourself in that position for 5 seconds and then lower them back. Or try standing on one leg for 30 seconds then swap legs. Hold the back of a chair if you require assistance.
Strength – leg strength lends itself to fall prevention. Building muscle can also to protect your joints and exercise can lubricate them to help with joint pain.
EATING FOR ONE?
A study has shown that loneliness correlates with malnutrition in older adults. Loss of a spouse/friend, divorce, or even separation from children are the leading causes of loneliness amongst older adults. When loneliness sets in, appetite decreases. Prolonged loss of appetite can lead to cognitive deterioration. Therefore it is extremely crucial to eat nutritious food even when living alone. However, it may not be as easy as it sounds. I personally feel that preparing a meal for one is the hardest. It is hard to gauge whether what I am cooking is too much or too little.
- It may be time to change your utensils for one person cooking i.e. using a smaller pan to cook. This could help reduce food wastage.
- It is better to chop the meat into smaller amounts. Separate the meat into a bag for the freezer.
- Buy 3 days’ worth of fruits and vegetable and walk to the supermarket on the 4th day for a quick exercise.
- List what’s in the fridge and freezer and then decide what to cook for the day. Writing down could motivate you to cook.
- You can also search for new recipes that you have never tried before. This could be another way to motivate you to cook and get to try new food.
- Subscribe to supermarket newsletter to get a new recipe every now and then.
- Make plans with your friend or neighbour. Having companion every now and then will encourage appetite.
- If you are never a fan of cooking, you could always sign up with a programme such as “Meals on Wheels” and “Wiltshire Farmfoods“. You would have to check whether it is available in your county. There are other programmes such as “The Wholefood Revolution” and “Drop Chef“. They will deliver raw ingredients along with a recipe and you be the chef!
**Disclaimer: The advice given in this blog is meant as a suggestion only. It is important to ask your doctor/dietitian before making any changes to your lifestyle.