One of the major concerns which is becoming prevalent among adults especially in the older population is obesity. As obesity in seniors results in a heavier body mass index, it can reduce their life expectancy as compared to their counterparts with normal weight. That is because obesity impacts the functioning of various body organs and the extent to which the elders can independently perform the daily activities on their own. On the contrary, a normal body weight helps in maintaining the physical abilities of older adults and helps them to lead a healthy life.
Obesity is caused by several factors like physical inactivity, genetics, overeating, an improper and unbalanced diet, frequent eating, medication side-effects, psychological reasons and some diseases like hypothyroidism. An active lifestyle coupled with a balanced low-calorie nourishing diet can help seniors prevent obesity. Athulya Assisted Living, a prominent choice amongst assisted living facilities in Chennai, ensures reliable senior care by focusing on these aspects. It has customized tasty and healthy menu plans, physical activities and fitness programs to ensure that elders do not become obese. Thus, residents here can remain hale and hearty and enjoy blissful ageing.
Consequences of Obesity
Obesity in old age can result in potentially serious health complications especially if it is neglected. Some of the harmful consequences experienced by seniors are-
- Cardiovascular diseases and stroke attacks-Obesity raises blood pressure and abnormal lipid levels especially cholesterol which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
- Diabetes-The way insulin produced in the body is utilized to sustain the sugar levels in the blood are affected by obesity. This is because the high-fat content hampers the effective usage of insulin increasing its resistance and raises the sugar levels causing diabetes.
- Cancer-The probability of getting some types of cancers especially those in the uterus, breast, colon, liver, pancreas, cervix, gall bladder, kidney, pancreas and prostate glands.
- Digestive issues– The proper digestion of food is hampered by obesity. That leads to heartburn, liver ailments and gallbladder disease.
- Sleep disorders-Most seniors with obesity experience serious sleep disorders like sleep apnea in which the breathing frequently stops and starts multiple times during the sleeping duration.
- Osteoarthritis-Increased weight due to obesity puts high stress on the weight-bearing joints and raises the inflammation in the body. These risk factors can cause stiff joints and osteoarthritis
- Chronic COVID-19 symptoms-Seniors affected by the COVID-19 virus are more susceptible to suffer from chronic symptoms of this infection if they are obese. They are more likely to require treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and may also need the support of mechanical assistance for breathing like ventilators.
Prevention of Obesity
- Exercise regularly-Physical activities that are moderately intense are immensely beneficial in aiding the prevention of weight increase. Elders can do about five hours of exercise per week for this. Walking and swimming are good examples of such activities. Apart from exercise, seniors should also be physically active by doing the routine tasks by themselves to the extent possible. Consuming natural anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, berries and broccoli reduces pains and aches and encourages elders to be on the move.
- Maintain a healthy eating regime-A balanced healthy diet plays a crucial role in preventing obesity. The best foods for seniors include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods as these nutrient-dense despite low calorific value. Additionally, a protein diet for seniors is also recommended as proteins are the building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage and skin and are required for the repair of body cells. Some foods enriched with proteins are pulses, lean meats, dairy products and eggs. Likewise, the role of millets and its benefits cannot be ignored as millets like ragi, jowar and bajra are a rich source of essential vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
- Get enough sleep-A proper sleep cycle helps in regulating the bodyweight by producing the hormones needed and giving sufficient rest to the organs. It also avoids unhealthy habits like untimely eating and overeating.
- Avoid unhealthy foods traps-It is vital to identify the triggers that cause uncontrolled and abnormal eating and avoid these traps as they cause dangerous weight gain. Elders must also monitor their weight regularly and practise mindful eating as food allergy in seniors can cause serious health complications due to the consumption of unsafe ingredients.