The biological theory of aging combines two main approaches toward aging in the human body: programmed and damage (error) theories. Programmed theories are based on the assumption that the aging process is regulated by gene expression and changes that happen in those. Damage or error theories specify environmental assaults as the catalysts of aging that depend on the damages cumulated in one’s body and cells (also known as the free radical theory of aging) (Kochman, 2015). Therefore, as a caregiver, I can explain that the genes are not the only active agents in our process of aging. As the environment and the quality of food, water, air, and other resources have changed, so did our body and its ability to resist damaging processes. Moreover, we cannot control the damage in our cells, and the external intrusions have a different influence on us.
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In order to provide health teaching related to age processes, I would address such topics as stress, malnutrition, genetic research, socioeconomic factors, environmental factors, vitamins and other parts of healthy nutrition, mental illnesses, socialization, etc. to explain that aging process can be influenced (positively and negatively) by various factors that do not often align with the problems (or lack thereof) our parents experienced. I would also educate the patient about the normality of the aging process and point out that it should not be perceived as a failure or malfunction. Additional lectures (with written texts and visuals) about the changes in internal organs as we age are also recommended to explain why the aging process can result in various physical issues.
The recommended vaccines for adults include influenza vaccine (seasonal), whooping cough vaccination, zoster vaccine, and vaccines against pneumococcal disease. As for exercise recommendations, I would combine physical and mental activities to ensure their efficiency.
- Repetitive ADLs (including “bed mobility, sit-to-stand, transfer to various surface and height”, etc.) (Chou, Hwang, & Wu, 2012, p. 240)
- Walking (three to four times per week, approx. 30 minutes or more if possible)
- Stretching (three times per week, 3-4 min.)
- 50 min of exercise in water if possible (per week) (Chou et al., 2012)
- Low resistance training (90 min., two days)
- Fast walking (30 minutes, three days per week)
- Jogging or running (10-15 min., two or three days per week)
- Connect the dots (a simple task with one type of units and a complicated task with several types of units) (every two days) (Nishiguchi et al., 2015)
- Text recalling (read aloud a small text and try to recall it immediately or with a delay)
- Map study (examine a map attentively and then try to draw it with as many details as possible)
- Painting (if possible, one can learn to draw simple pictures and portraits every week)
- Crosswords (can be used three days per week as an entertaining task based on memory activities)
Additional attention should be paid to one’s nutrition; changes in diet with a focus on fruit and vegetables, nuts, dietary products are recommended if there are no allergies linked to the products. Yoga (especially in groups at specific centers) can also positively influence the woman’s physical and cognitive skills, as well as provide opportunities for socialization. Meditation can be combined with yoga as an activity that decreases stress and positively influences one’s concentration and ability to focus.
If there are any pets in the house, an additional two or three walks (per week) with them can also be transformed into physical exercise.
Chou, C. H., Hwang, C. L., & Wu, Y. T. (2012). Effect of exercise on physical function, daily living activities, and quality of life in the frail older adults: A meta-analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 93(2), 237-244.
Kochman, K. (2015). New elements in modern biological theories of aging. Folia Medica, 3(3), 89-99.
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Nishiguchi, S., Yamada, M., Tanigawa, T., Sekiyama, K., Kawagoe, T., Suzuki, M., & Aoyama, T. (2015). A 12‐week physical and cognitive exercise program can improve cognitive function and neural efficiency in community‐dwelling older adults: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 63(7), 1355-1363.