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Random thoughts

October 29, 2018

Health and the elderly


October 29, 2018

As president of the Senior Citizens Foundation of Pakistan (SCFP), I am always interested in things that have anything to do with the elderly. Recently, I received a message from a good friend and well-wisher. She wrote:

“To have a long life, the years from 70 to 79 are crucial; it is considered a dangerous age group. Surprisingly the health status of the 60 to 69 group and the 80 to 89 group is more stable. The reason is that from 70 to 79 various organs decline rapidly and it is a period of geriatric diseases such as hyperlipidemia (excessive fat in the blood), arteriosclerosis (thickening and hardening of the arteries, hypertension and diabetes. After 80, these diseases stabilise or may even decline. That is why these 10 years are called the dangerous age group.

“Many elderly people realise that health is wealth and they take extra precautionary measures to stay healthy. Here are some steps, called the ‘ten ones’, to do every day.

“1) A pot of water. Water is the best and cheapest health drink and should be drunk (at least) at the following times: first, after getting out of bed in the morning, drink a glass of water on an empty stomach. Due to sweating and urine secretion while sleeping, a lot of water is lost. Even if one does not feel thirsty after waking, the body liquids will still be thick due to lack of water.

“Second, after exercise. The right amount of exercise is one of the cornerstones of longevity, especially for the elderly, and more attention should be paid to effective and reasonable exercise. However, after exercise, special attention should be paid to replenishing water lost to sweating, which takes away electrolytes. If one doesn’t pay attention, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) after exercise may result and even cause syncope (fainting). Furthermore, it is recommended that the elderly add a pinch of salt and a little sugar to drinking water after exercise.

“Third, before going to bed at night. While sleeping, sweat glands continue to drain water from the body. If the body’s water is reduced too much, blood can thicken. A glass of water can help prevent this and may even slow down the appearance of aging, help against angina (pain in the chest), myocardial infarction (heart attack) and other diseases.

“2) Eat a bowl of porridge. A famous medical scientist in the Qing Dynasty in China called porridge “the first complement of the world”. China Daily Online published a 14-year study conducted by Harvard University on 100,000 people. It found that a bowl of about 28 grams of whole grain cereal porridge a day can reduce mortality by 5 percent and the chance of getting a cardiovascular disease by 9 percent. All the volunteers were in good physical condition at the start of the study in 1984, but in the 2010 feedback survey, more than 26,000 had passed away. It was found that those volunteers who had regularly eaten whole grains such as porridge, brown rice, corn and buckwheat seemed to have avoided all diseases, especially heart disease.

“3) Drink a cup of milk. Milk is known as ‘white blood’. Its nutritional value is well known – a lot of calcium, fat and protein. The recommended daily intake of milk and dairy products is 300 grams. It is, therefore, enough to drink 400 ml of milk a day.

“4) Eat an egg. Eggs can be said to be the most suitable food for human consumption. The body’s absorption rate of egg protein can be as high as 98 percent.

“5) Eat an apple. Modern research believes that apples have the effects of lowering cholesterol, losing weight, preventing cancer, preventing aging, enhancing memory and making the skin smooth and soft. The benefits of different coloured apples vary. Red apples lower blood lipids and soften blood vessels; green apples nourish and detoxify the liver and can fight depression and yellow apples protect vision.

“6) Eat onions. Onions have a high nutritional value, help lower blood sugar and cholesterol, prevent cancer, protect against cardiovascular and cerebrovascular (blood vessels of the brain) diseases. Onions are also anti-bacterial, help prevent colds and supplement calcium. Eat onions at least three or four times a week.

“7) Eat fish. The protein contained in fish is easily digested and absorbed. The amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the fat, especially polyunsaturated fatty acids, is relatively good for the body.

“8) Take a gentle walk. This has a magical anti-aging effect. When adults walk about one kilometre or less regularly for more than 12 weeks, posture is corrected, waistline reduced and the body becomes strong and tires less easily. Walking is also beneficial to treat headache, backache, shoulder pain, etc. and can promote good sleep. Experts believe that a 30-minute walk a day, five days a week, can get rid of the danger of ‘adult diseases’. People who take 10,000 steps a day will have a lower chance of developing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

“9) Start a hobby. Having a hobby, no matter what it is, can help the elderly maintain extensive contact with society and nature. This broadens the horizons of interest and makes them happier.

“10) Last but not least, always be in a good mood. The elderly should maintain a positive attitude, as that is extremely important to health. Common chronic diseases are closely related to negative emotions. Many patients with coronary heart disease have angina and myocardial infarction due to adverse emotions causing stress, sometimes resulting in sudden death. Bad tempers lead to high blood pressure. In prolonged and severe cases, this can cause stroke, heart failure, sudden death, etc. Negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and grief and cause blood sugar levels to rise, causing metabolic disorders in the body. This all goes to show how important it is to maintain a good mood.”

Please remember that aging is a natural phenomenon and it is the most sensible choice to fully devote oneself to life and to live and make the best of every day.

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