Living well gets harder when you’re on a fixed income. Without more money coming in, you have to be mindful of where every dollar goes. However, one area where you shouldn’t scrimp is your health. While forgoing healthy habits may lead to short-term savings, it costs more in the long run due to increased healthcare costs.
Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to live a healthy lifestyle. Here are four ways seniors can protect their health and stick to a budget.
Keep healthcare costs predictable
Seniors have a few options for Medicare coverage. You can stick with Original Medicare, supplement Original Medicare with Part D prescription coverage and/or a Medigap plan, or replace Original Medicare with a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Part C.
Original Medicare alone has the lowest premiums but leaves seniors to pay higher out-of-pocket costs. If you prefer medical costs that are predictable — a smart move when you’re on a budget — opt for Medigap or Medicare Advantage. AARP explains the pros and cons of each option.
Prevent falls with budget-friendly home improvements
Aging-in-place modifications are necessary for seniors who want to age at home and prevent falls. However, that doesn’t mean you have to invest in whole-home remodeling. Budget-friendly improvements like installing brighter lighting and non-slip flooring dramatically increase the safety of your home.
Smart home technology has expanded the options for aging-in-place seniors. A senior with hearing loss can use a smart doorbell so they never miss a visitor and to improve home security (especially when paired with a doorbell camera), while a senior with vision or mobility impairment can use voice controls to manage lights, thermostats, window treatments, and other household functions. The possibilities for smart technology in home accessibility are constantly expanding.
Make nutrition a priority
As you get older, you may lose interest in cooking, experience diminished appetite, or find cooking uncomfortable. Despite these challenges, it’s crucial to eat a nutritious diet during your senior years. Seniors who are malnourished are more likely to get sick or injured and lose their functional ability.
Finding ways to eat well even when cooking becomes difficult and the budget gets tight. Start by scheduling daily meals and collecting budget-friendly recipes you enjoy. Make your kitchen more comfortable with ergonomic modifications, and batch cook so you’re not standing at the stove three times per day. If grocery shopping is challenging, use grocery delivery or curbside pickup. Walmart and Albertson’s are two stores that offer free pick-up when you order online, and several other grocery stores offer pick-up and delivery for a fee.
Avoid sitting all day
It’s common to have sedentary hobbies as a senior — reading, crafting, watching television. But if you want to retain your functional ability as you age, you have to get up and move.
If you’re relatively fit and healthy, you don’t need to hire a personal trainer or physical therapist to get active. Instead, look for little ways to break up long stretches of sitting, like alternating reading with chores or parking at the far end of the lot. Do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, or bicycling five days per week and muscle and balance training two days per week. It’s important to exercise all your muscle groups, but pay special attention to the lower body. When it comes to preventing falls, lower body strength is paramount.
Healthy aging doesn’t have to be complicated. By paying attention to your diet, staying active, and taking preventive measures against illness and injury, you can avoid many of the major health problems threatening senior health. And when you make good health a priority, you can make the most of your golden years.