I participated in this program on behalf of Aetna and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
Aging is a fact of life, and, like most things that are inevitable, it’s best to try and make friends with it. After all, our attitudes really determine how we live our lives.
My Mom would always tell me as she got older that inside she felt like a young girl. She kept that youthful outlook throughout her life. When she was younger, my Mom loved to sing opera and to dance salsa and jitterbug. She would tell me stories about how she and Dad danced in the streets on their honeymoon in Cuba. She was a hot ticket.
As my Mom got older, she developed some health problems which made it much harder to do the things she loved to do, but, of course, she retained her irrepressible spirit. We would always try to take a walk around the block and stop to look at the ocean. She took a t’ai chi class which she loved and I took it with her. Every weekend, we would go to our favorite seafood restaurant and order something healthy and delicious. Salmon with grilled asparagus was a favorite. She cut out salt and ate more salads. I would take her grocery shopping with me, even if it meant she had to lean more on the cart. She loved Jeopardy and her favorite gift was always more crossword puzzle books. These kept her mind active and young as well.
Parents and grandparents can still stay active, even though it may not be in the same ways as when they were younger. New and healthy foods can be an adventure and one that helps ease inflammation and blood sugar issues.
In short, we can help our elders age gracefully and healthfully.
This fall, Aetna teamed up with Grandparents.com on a new survey of more than 5,000 Grandparents.com members to gauge what matters most to grandparents for healthy living.
A group of bloggers were recently invited to a virtual chat with Dr. Randall Krakauer, Vice President and national medical director for Medicare Strategy and Innovation at Aetna. A recognized leader in geriatric care, board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology, Dr. Krakauer is also the proud father of three and grandfather of two. What we learned was interesting and enlightening.
Only one in four Grandparents.com members view themselves as”seniors”and less than half are retired for good. In fact, over one in three are still working either full or part-time.
Ninety percent of grandparents have access to a computer, almost sixty percent have access to a smartphone, and over half of the respondents list overuse of technology as their biggest concern regarding their grandchildren’s future. I don’t blame them. Sometimes when we’re having dinner and the kids are texting one another across the table, I feel the same way!
The most common health conditions reported were high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity while only one in five list exercising 30 minutes a day at least three times per week as their most successful health habit. I think this is something we all can work on together. It is a great benefit at any age. If you exercise with your parents or grandparents, they may be more likely to join in.
Regarding top health concerns, cost and chronic disease management were predominant.
If they could do it all over again, about 30 percent say they wish they had started exercising 20 years ago and 40 percent believe that exercise is the hardest health habit to form.
The holidays are a good time to talk and an opportunity to discuss family health history with your parents and relatives and help them make health goals for the year ahead.
We can also help our family members make the most out of Medicare Open Enrollment. The General Open Enrollment period runs from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015 and Open Enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries runs from October 15, 2014 to December 7, 2014.
Consider preventive services and learn how to make the most of them. If using Medicare, consider other programs that many Medicare plans offer – such as Silver Sneakers.
Above all, show your concern in authentic and helpful ways. This compassion is invaluable as parents and grandparents go through the different stages of life. To know they have your support is everything.