Putting a New Spring in Your Step (And Yes, Pun Intended!)

Now that Spring has arrived, our focus becomes the outdoors. We want to be outside. We need to be outside. For seniors, who especially feel the impact of winter hibernation, the ability to roam about without the fear of falling on ice or having to brace themselves against frigid temperatures, is incredibly liberating! It is also essential for their continued good physical and mental health.

Physical activity helps to strengthen the body and the mind. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage new brain cells. It also can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and thereby protect against those risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

And good news! The exercise does not have to be particularly vigorous or for lengthy periods of time. It just needs to be done on a regular basis. And now that the weather is nice again, seniors can stay active outdoors by walking, gardening or doing whatever else is in their personal realm of physical ability. We are fortunate in the Hudson Valley to have so many rail trails and Hudson River walks, parks and towns in which to amble along.

Mental stimulation, of course, is also important. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that the brain be engaged on a daily basis and recommends the following, again based on levels of personal ability:

Stay curious and involved
Read, write, work crossword or other puzzles
Attend lectures and plays
Enroll in courses at your local adult education center, community college or other     community group
Play games
Try memory exercises

I can personally attest to the value of a lifestyle that includes exercise and mental stimulation. My father walked 3.5 miles every day until he was 85. He worked until he was 85, too. Growing up over the years, I would hear him tell people, “You know, the brain is a muscle, and if you don’t exercise it, it gets lazy.” Dad was one of those guys who walked the walk and talked the talk. He was always reading or writing and involved in various social organizations. When he passed away at 89, his mind was intact.

So there you are. It’s never too soon or too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Even though everyone’s body is different and genetics must be factored into the mix, it’s good to know that we have done the best we can for our seniors to help keep them healthy. No regrets. And what better time to start anew than the beginning of Spring?

Hey, Don’t forget Bethel’s Easter Egg Hunt at our Ossining campus – Saturday, March 31, from 12- 2 p.m. (914-941-7300 x200) & Mother’s Day Marketplace with 20 vendors at our Croton-on-Hudson campus – Saturday, May 12, from 10 am to 4 pm. (914-739-6700) x220.

[blockquote class=blue]Cathy Santa Coloma is Director of Communications at Bethel Homes, located in Croton-on-Hudson and Ossining. It is the only not-for-profit healthcare organization in Northern Westchester to offer a full continuum of care which includes: Home Care, Adult Day Services, Enhanced, Independent Senior Living, Assisted Senior Living, Two Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Centers, Outpatient Rehabilitation, Hospice and Respite Care. For more information, please call 914-739-6700.[/blockquote]

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