Ageing is an inevitable stage of life that can be exciting but also challenging, presenting several physical and mental changes. However, knowing the right steps to take to ensure you age healthily can make all the difference. With research revealing that more than 22% of people in Australia will be above age 65 by 2026, it’s vital to take proactive steps to ensure this stage is as fulfilling and stress-free as possible. One helpful way to ensure that is to know some of the barriers to healthy ageing and how to avoid or manage them. Below are some of those challenges and how to effectively deal with them.
Sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity
The increase in sedentary lifestyles has led to physical inactivity and its associated health repercussions. In an age dominated by automation and technological advancements, it is easy to sit behind the screen for several hours, which results in a severe lack of physical activity. The younger generation often does not notice the health consequences until they are older, and such negative actions begin to take a toll on their bodies. It is an entirely different story for the older generation, who must face these consequences in the most health-tasking ways. Many older adults sink into sedentary lifestyles due to the lack of adequate scheduling in daily routines.
Having retired from active duty, many are home a greater part of the week and fail to engage in any physical activity to improve their well-being. That often results in cardiovascular problems, obesity, weakened muscles, and bones. The human body naturally declines in function and performance in old age, but certain interventions can significantly improve health. First, you want to maintain good mobility as you hit your twilight years while doing everything possible to prevent chronic diseases. These little changes can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life. Simple exercises like walking, swimming, and other low-impact exercises can make a difference.
Lack of timely medical intervention
Quality healthcare remains a significant challenge for many adults, even in developed nations. The problem is not with a lack of adequate health facilities but with timely medical interventions. Medical studies have shown that the severity of a majority of health conditions could have been reduced if people had sought timely medical intervention. Preventive screening and routine checkups are game-changers in timely medical interventions. They are pivotal in addressing health issues that have the potential to negatively impact your well-being.
Over the years, health experts and the public have noticed disparities in healthcare access. That has been most prevalent in underserved communities, and older adults tend to be one of the most affected groups. Sometimes, other factors like proximity to a medical centre impact the ability to access healthcare. Meanwhile, rural parts with healthcare facilities may have limited resources to attend to critical cases that older adults report. While these are substantial barriers, they can be resolved with the help of mobile healthcare units and policies that focus on the older generation.
Declining mental health and increased social isolation
Mental health is a crucial element in old age, and data suggests that depression is most prevalent among those aged 65 years and above. Although the percentage is higher among ageing females than in males, the underlying issue is that social isolation affects them. Many older adults are empty-nesters or may have lost loved ones, which exacerbates loneliness and depression.
Moreover, factors like financial strain can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions and contribute to rapid cognitive decline. Mental health and social isolation can be addressed using a multi-faceted approach. That includes support networks and more healthcare facilities with a concentration on older adults. Increased social engagement and companionship can also help destigmatise mental health conditions and pave the way for healthy ageing.