As we grow older, our bodies and minds may need increased attention from health care professionals.
Even in the absence of specific diseases or conditions, the normal aging process requires we pay special attention to our health.
The good news is that it is never too late to benefit from preventive care.
Your first step towards a healthy lifestyle is making an appointment with your family doctor. Together, you and your doctor can create a preventive care plan. Would you like to find a primary care doctor?
Eat a healthy diet, watch your weight, get some exercise and stay current on appropriate vaccinations, such as for the seasonal flu, and you will enjoy a higher quality of life.
Your first step
Your first step in adopting a healthier lifestyle is a visit with your doctor. Your doctor will evaluate your general health and recommend appropriate levels of activity and other considerations.
If you have health issues, including chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart problems or other medical concerns, pay attention to your doctor's advice, especially as it relates to physical activity and medications.
Some changes in your body are a natural part of aging. Your body functions less efficiently making concerns such as weight gain more challenging.
The normal changes include hearing loss, diminishing eyesight, sleep patterns, more wrinkles and thinning hair, which often adopts a distinguished grey or white tint.
You should be concerned if you or someone close to you:
- Has a dramatic gain or loss of weight
- Falls or stumbles frequently Is often confused or disoriented
- Has loss of bladder control
- Stops eating
- Tires easily (after minimum exertion)
- Loses interest in maintaining relationships with family or friends
These may be signs of serious medical or emotional problems that require the attention of a health care expert.
Despite some limitations imposed by the normal aging process, you can enjoy a good quality of life. It may be easier if you have been conscious about diet, weight gain, physical activity and other healthy habits in the past, but you can still make a difference even if you have led a less than healthy lifestyle up to now.
You and your doctor can work out a personalized guide to a healthy lifestyle that will reduce the possibility of future serious medical problems. Here are some of the steps:
- A thorough physical examination and medical history will help your doctor decide what, if any, medical issues will affect your activities.
- You may need to adjust your level of physical activity (up or down) depending on your doctor's assessment of your overall health.
- Unless told otherwise by your doctor, eat a diet that is heavy with fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods and light on processed food, sugary and/or salty snacks.
- Discuss alcohol consumption with your doctor.
- Quit using tobacco products. Quitting smoking, even after many years of consumption, will pay health benefits. There are medically-approved aids to help you quit.
- Your doctor will recommend a schedule of screening tests and vaccinations (such as seasonal flu) for your particular medical situation.