As the aging population continues to soar in the U.S., so does the prevalence of obesity among these senior citizens. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that between 2007 and 2010, more than one-third of those aged 65 and above were obese. And with the number of people aged 65 and above expected to double in 2050, the necessary interventions must be made to address obesity among seniors.
While much of the efforts being made today are to curb obesity in children and young adults, the same energy needs to be witnessed when dealing with seniors. This is crucial, especially when you consider that the health complications of being overweight are more severe when you are older.
What are the Effects of Obesity on the Elderly?
Research has shown that obesity can predispose a vast array of health complications in senior citizens. Having excess weight can strains the human organs, making it difficult for them to function normally. Being obese as a senior means that you’re likely to develop health complications such as:
- Respiratory problems
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Cardiovascular disease
- Mobility issues and body pain
- Gallbladder disease
Additionally, being overweight later in life can lead to mental complications. Although cognitive decline is something that individuals experience as they grow older, studies have shown that obesity can accelerate it. Obesity can affect your brain’s ability to process information, recall memories, and solve problems.
Being overweight has also been linked to depression and reduced quality of life. Depression at old age increases the chance of developing heart disease and other life-threatening health complications.
How Can Seniors Manage Weight Safely?
As we grow older, our metabolism starts to slow down, making our muscle mass to shrink. One of the most excellent ways to stop muscle loss is strength training. These types of exercises help increase muscle size, as well as strengthen the ligaments, tendons, and bones. Besides, resistance/strength training improves agility, balance, and coordination. It also leads to improved athletic performance and reduces incidences of injury.
Additionally, low-impact activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga can also help seniors cut weight. However, seniors should ensure that they have a mobile medical alert system when they’re going for walks or bike rides. This life-saving device allows seniors to summon help if they injure themselves or experience any complications when they are away from home.
However, it is vitally essential that you consult your doctor before participating in any exercise regimen. Also remember, to take everything slowly and ensure that you don’t over-train your body.
Check What Goes into Your Plate
Proper nutrition is also an excellent means of cutting excess weight. Research has shown that consuming a diet with high proteins and low calories can help you cut weight safely and effectively. A high-protein meal plan will help you shed off fats, improve the vast biomarkers of mortality, and enhance physical function. It is also crucial that you reduce carbs and sugar intake.
Talk to Your Doctor About Changing Your Medication
Old age complications can force you to take lots of medication daily. At times, some of the medicines may lead to weight gain. If you suspect that the medicines you are taking are making you add weight, you can talk to your doctor and see if they can prescribe some alternatives.
Get Quality Sleep
Sleep is another element that can mess up your metabolism big time. Seniors are known to struggle with sleeplessness. And since lack of enough sleep has been linked to obesity in older adults, sleeping for 7-8 hours can help manage weight gain.
Another effective way of managing obesity is through Bariatric surgery. This surgical procedure can help you shed excess fat if all non-surgical procedures fail to deliver the desired results. While this might an effective way to manage obesity, you must evaluate its benefits and risks with a physician before you decide to use it.