I'm sure it comes as no surprise to the majority of my readers when I say that health problems escalate as we grow older. Not only do the problems we already have become worse, new problems develop.
Diseases like diabetes and arthritis either appear or become harder to deal with. Broken bones take longer to heal. Minor ailments like colds and the flu take forever, it seems, to go away.
Many of these health complaints can disturb your sleep. Diabetes is a notorious disrupter of sleep. The aches and pains of arthritis and other bone and muscle discomfort, including injuries, can keep you awake, because no matter how you lie, darn it, it still hurts. If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, these added aches and pains bring more suffering and sleep deprivation. And I haven't even mentioned the big sleep thieves - sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Even the mind can betray you. Depression is common in the elderly. Dementia and Alzheimer's disease can rob one of the peace and happiness of the senior years.
Why do all these things hit us as we reach retirement age? These are the years when we should be free to relax, enjoy our grandchildren, socialize and travel. Right? Yet sometimes our health just does not co-operate. And sleep is an important part of our health.
There are many reasons that health deteriorates as we grow older. Our bodies are becoming tired. Our hearts, stomachs, lungs and brain have been working nonstop for many years. Like all good engines, they do start to wear out. Our immune systems aren't as strong as before and fighting off infection becomes more difficult.
Other things also play a part. Many seniors lose lifetime mates, people they have depended on for love and companionship for many years. Suddenly, they are alone.
This may mean that they also lose their home. They may move in with son or daughter and spouse. Here, in effect, the roles are reversed and suddenly parents become the children living by the rules set out by their offspring.
What may be even worse, some of the elderly lose their homes and move into senior complexes. Many seniors really enjoy life in a senior's lodge and the companionship of other people their age. But, for some, it causes unhappiness and disorientation. To add to the disillusionment, families may seldom visit, and they feel like they have been abandoned.
What can you do to ensure you enjoy your "Golden Years?"
- See your doctor regularly, and follow his advice.
- Eat healthy food, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid overindulgence in fatty foods or rich desserts.
- If you have a treatable medical problem, have it treated as soon as possible.
- Keep a regular schedule as much as possible. Have your meals at the same time every day, get up at a regular hour and go to bed early enough to get a good night's sleep.
- Make plans. Decide what you want to do and where you want to go should the situation ever arise, and you are forced to move out of your home.
- Above all, keep active, both physically and mentally. Go for walks or take part in group exercise activities if you are able. Read, watch educational television, visit museums. Even playing games will keep your mind alert.
Its not easy to know you're not the person you were a few years ago, but there are still many good years ahead. I'll be seventy-three in October, and, despite several health problems, I am really enjoying these years now my children are adults and I have only myself to worry about. Enjoy your "Golden Years." They can be the best years of your life.
Published On: December 02, 2008