health care,
education and
social services

health care,
education  and
social services

Give Your Health a Boost: 5 Stay Healthy Tips for Seniors

Seniors are living longer! Here are 5 basic tips for seniors to stay healthy, strong and independent, from Michelle Singleton, the Director of the Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center managed by Mary’s Center and supported by the DC Office on Aging. 

1.    Eat Your Fruits And Veggies!

Eating balanced, well-planned meals with fruits, vegetables, protein and grains may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and anemia.  Healthy foods also provide the nutrients needed for bone, muscle and organ health. 

As we age, the water volume in our bodies decreases, and we are prone to dehydration. This may cause many physical complications including seizures and kidney failure.  Maintaining fluid levels is essential and can be accomplished by drinking your water or eating your water.  Your thirst can be quenched by eating foods such as watermelon, strawberries, star fruit, tomatoes, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and celery, to name a few.


2.    Keep It Moving!

Seniors exercising at Mary's Center's Senior Wellness CenterExercising can prevent or delay disease. It can lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, and improve your balance, which will minimize falls. It can also help to maintain some aspects of cognitive function.

What is the difference between being physically active and exercising? Physical activity includes activities that get your body moving such as gardening, walking the dog, and taking the stairs. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured and repetitive. Examples include weight and core training, tai chi, and aerobics. 

Make exercise a priority and, most importantly, make it fun! 


3.    Go To Bed!

Researchers are learning more about sleep and healthy aging. Neurologists now know that poor sleep raises the risk of dementia. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis reported that sleep deprivation makes the brain plaques of Alzheimer’s disease appear earlier and more often.

Adults require close to 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleeping less than 8 hours can cause mania for some and sleeping more than 9 hours can trigger depression in others. Poor sleeping habits can also contribute to an increase in appetite and decrease in energy, which can lead to a steady weight gain.

Don’t squander your sleep time. Put your cell phone, tablet, computer and TV to bed and settle in. Create your own bedtime routine that will allow you to wind down, and relax in a dimly lit area.


4.    Go Out And Play!  Be Happy!

Participants gardening at Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness CenterSeniors who engage in social recreation activities have a reduced risk of diseases and have better coping behaviors in response to stressful life events and daily frustrations. Some of the activities that offer seniors opportunities for socialization and skill development include gardening, games, book clubs, trips, arts and crafts, golf, volleyball, and shopping. Once seniors engage in activities of this type, they tend to continue to be active.

Just as important to the mental health of seniors are their stress management skills. Seniors face many challenges as they age, such as managing their health, financial worries, and sometimes the loss of family members and friends. Some of the methods for seniors to better manage their stress and improve their mental health include meditation, cognitive puzzles (i.e. crossword puzzles, word searches, and Sudoku), yoga, breathing exercises, and mindfulness exercises.  Be happy!


5.    Give It Back!

Many seniors are willing to share their wisdom and expertise and give back to their communities or a cause or group near and dear to them. Activities for civic engagement can range from the community level with schools, churches, local political groups to more intimate engagement such as sharing a skill or talent with their senior center or a group of friends. Seniors have mentioned that volunteering invigorates them, gives them purpose, keeps them active and moves their spirit.  

These tips are just a few of the ways that seniors can stake their claim on a long and healthy life. It is never too late to start!

If you are senior in DC, 60 years of age or older, join Mary’s Center’s Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center for exercise, health education, nutrition education, cooking demos, social and recreational activities, and much, much more! Click to read more and find out how you can sign up.

Michelle Singleton, Director of the Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center managed by Mary's CenterAbout Michelle Singleton

Michelle Singleton is the Director of the Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center managed by Mary’s Center. She is a native Washingtonian and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at Howard University. Her professional interests are in the areas of training and gerontology. Ms. Singleton has more than 20 years of experience in working with children and seniors, both in the classroom and in healthcare facilities. She has managed intergenerational programs with elementary students and seniors, and field research studies across many subject areas and target populations. She is a member of the American Society on Aging.  Her personal interests include gardening, crocheting and volunteering.


(References: National Institute of Health’s “Senior Health,” and National Institute on Aging’s “Age Page”)


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