Staying healthy is important at any age, but for seniors, it is even more important for living a long, happy and active life. Here is a quick checklist to help maintain good health as you age.
1. Don’t forget your well visits and recommended screenings
Studies show that about 10% fewer adults have annual contact with a medical professional when compared to kids. Although this may not be surprising, wellness visits are extremely important. Today’s wellness exams go beyond the standard physical, allowing doctors to identify preventive measures that will keep you healthier and save you money.
For more information on what to expect from an adult well visit, check out the following:
2. Exercise and stay active
As you get older, it can be easy to find excuses to let yourself slow down. However, exercise is vitally important for seniors. “Exercise improves your quality of life, meaning everything from how much activity we can do, to what kind of mood we’re in,” said Kristina Balangue, MD, a geriatrician at Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix.
No matter your fitness level, here are just a few ways to exercise and stay active:
- Tai Chi: The Perfect Low-Impact Activity for Seniors?
- Walk Your Way to Better Health with These Tips
- Swim, Swim, Swim for Your Joints and Heart
- How to Keep Your Muscles Strong as You Get Older
And don’t forget, keeping your mind active is as important as exercising your muscles and joints. Keep your mind engaged by taking classes, learning new skills and hobbies, playing games or reading, and most importantly, keeping up your social relationships with friends and family.
3. Maintain strong bones
Most of us really don’t think about our bones until one breaks. However, bone health, like other aspects of your health, needs to be worked on for years. The good news is that it’s never too late to take care of your bones and slow bone loss. Check out this article for "5 Tips for Keeping Your Bones Strong".
Want to know more about your risk for osteoporosis? Talk to your doctor about a DEXA bone density scan. It is a common screening test for women over 65 and can help predict your risk of fractures or osteoporosis.
4. Don’t let joint pain slow you down
Aging gracefully can sometimes be a pain … in your joints, that is. Whether from disease or injury, any damage can interfere with your movement and take a toll on your entire body. Here is some additional information on ways to reduce symptoms and manage your pain:
- Nine Tips for Safe Pain Management
- Four Ways to Feel Hip at Every Age
- Five Reasons Why Your Spine Loves Yoga
5. Eat a heart healthy diet
Taking care of your heart should be a top priority for everyone. The good news is there are some easy ways to keep your heart ticking for years to come. Eating a heart healthy diet is an important first step. Not sure where to start?
- Reducing Cholesterol with Healthy Eating
- Get “the Skinny” on Fats: The Good, the Bad and the Worst for You
- Cooking with Oils: What You Need to Know
- 7 Ways to Lower Your Sodium Intake
Even if you’ve had a heart attack, it’s never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes and improve your heart health—while improving your overall health. For more information, check out "8 Ways to Improve Your Health After a Heart Attack".
6. Take care of your eyes
People see primary care doctors, the dentist and even mental health specialists on a regular basis. But are you taking proper care of your eyes, especially if you don’t already use corrective lenses? It’s important to have your eyes checked regularly to prevent eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, low vision and even dry eyes. Set up an appointment now for a routine eye exam.
Whether you’re at work, home or outdoors, there are also preventive measures you can take to protect your eyes. Wearing sunglasses, even on a cloudy day, is one of the most important ways to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays and avoid lasting damage to your cornea. Yes, your eyes can get sunburned too!
7. Make sure your hearing is loud and clear
Have you noticed that sometimes it’s hard to understand what people are saying even though you can hear them? Does your partner complain that you have the TV volume up too high? Do you have a persistent ringing in your ears? If so, you might be experiencing hearing loss, or a related condition called tinnitus.
Don’t let hearing loss interfere with your day-to-day activities. Make an appointment with your health care provider today to see if hearing aids may be right for you.
For other hearing-related information:
- Are Earbuds Putting Your Hearing at Risk?
- Earwax: Three Reasons to Put Down the Cotton Swab
- Cochlear Implants: A Gift of Sound
8. Keep a skip in your step
Your feet and ankles are put under constant pressure making them susceptible, in some instances, to inflammation, pain and limited movement and flexibility. Taking care of your feet and wearing appropriate footwear is important to maintaining an active lifestyle.
If you are experiencing foot, ankle or heel pain, check out these articles for more information on how to keep a skip in your step:
- Do Your Feet Under or Overpronate? Here’s How to Tell
- What Are Bunions and How to Treat Them
- Are Over-the-Counter Insoles a Waste or Worth It?
- Don’t Let Heel Pain Get You Down
9. Keep your medications organized and safe
Especially as we age, you might need to take different medications to manage different health conditions. It’s important to review your medications regularly with your pharmacist and your health care provider to make sure everything is necessary and to identify possible interactions.
Learn more about safely managing your medications:
- The Top Warning Signs You Might Be Taking Too Many Medications
- The Importance of Taking Your Medications as Prescribed
- Why You Should Never Throw Away That Medication Package Insert
Do you have diabetes? Managing your medications and insulin can present some unique challenges. Here are “6 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults with Diabetes”.
10. Get your beauty rest
Why does restful sleep get more elusive the older we get? Studies have shown that 50% of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from sleep problems; and as we age, losing sleep at night can also lead to other health concerns, like an increased risk of falling and daytime fatigue.
To help get the shut eye you need, Dr. Joyce Lee-Iannotti, MD, a neurologist and sleep specialist with Banner Brain & Spine, gives these 10 tips for a more restful sleep. If you have put Dr. Lee-Iannotti’s tips into practice and still struggle to rest, make an appointment with a Banner Health physician to find a solution.
Visit the Banner Health blog for additional articles on health and wellness.