Getting older is a fact of life, but healthy aging is an individual’s choice. The choice is important because by staying healthy, you can keep your quality of life and independence longer. There are many things that you can do to help you stay healthy as you age. Our guide below can help you achieve those goals.
FINDING HEALTHCARE WHICH MEETS YOUR NEEDS
As we age, our healthcare needs change. Finding a physician who specializes in senior healthcare can be difficult. If you’re having difficulty finding a physician, get in contact with AGS Health in Aging Foundation’s free referral service at (212) 308-1414, or visit http://www.healthinaging.org/find-a-geriatrics-healthcareprofessional/.
Being an older American, there are healthcare benefits for you which are available through Medicare. Information can be found by visiting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Web site at http://www.medicare.gov/.
The federal Administration on Aging (AoA) has services available in every state. This programs offers mental health services, nutritional programs; transportation, senior health programs, services for seniors’ family caregivers, benefits counseling and elder abuse prevention programs. To find AoA services in your neighborhood call 1-800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov.
Keeping a yearly checkup appointment with your physician is important also to both your physical and mental health, even if you feel healthy.
Taking your medications as prescribed can help you live longer and healthier. But if the medications are mixed up by mistakes or taken the wrong way, it can be dangerous and even life threatening. It is important to not only keep track of your medications, but take them safely. Your doctor also needs to know about all the medications you take. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements.
- Prescriptions: These are medications which you can only get with a doctor’s prescription. As examples, blood pressure pills or Lexapro for instance.
- Over the counter medications: These are pills, liquids or creams which you can buy without a doctor’s prescription. Examples of these would be sore throat lozenges or Pepto-Bismol.
- Other types of medications: These would be things like dietary supplements or vitamins.
When you are prescribed a new medication, be sure to talk to your doctor. If you’ve had problems with medications which were similar such as getting hives, breathing problems or dizziness; as examples, mention it. You also will want to find out if you need to stop taking something that you’re already taking when prescribed a new medication or taking something over-the-counter. Some medications don’t mix. Have a list of all the medications that you take so that nothing is overlooked when you consult with your doctor or pharmacist. Be sure to write down the drug’s name and why it has been prescribed for you. In addition, write down any special instructions on how to take the new drug. Some questions you could ask would be:
- If the bottle says 4 times a day, does that mean 4 times within 24 hours or 4 times during the course of the day?
- Can this medication be taken with food? Is there anything I shouldn’t eat or drink when I take this medication?
- Will this medication cause any problems with the medications that I’m already taking? Also, what does as needed mean exactly? When should I stop taking this medication and what should I do if I skip a dose?
GET TESTING DONE
If you are diabetic or diabetes runs in your family, get checked for diabetes. Signs of diabetes are frequent urination, being thirsty or hungry all the time, or if you are overweight. Diabetes can be controlled if discovered in time.
Blood pressure test once a year is also something which should be done. High blood pressure can cause a host of other problems such as kidney problems, blindness, stroke as well as other health problems.
Cholesterol testing is also important. Too much cholesterol can cause strokes, heart disease as well as other serious health problems. If diabetes or heart disease runs in your family history, you should have these tested more often.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP
It’s important to get a good night’s sleep, and older adults need as much of this as do younger adults. An average amount of needed sleep for a senior is seven to nine hours a night. However, seniors often get much less. When you don’t get the sleep that’s needed, it can lead to irritability, depression, memory problems and the increased risk of falling. By developing a regular bedtime routine and daily schedule, a good night sleep can be accomplished. Keep the bedroom dark and free from noise when you go to bed. Don’t watch TV in bed or surf the internet. Stop drinking caffeine later in the day. Keep your bedroom a little on the cooler side too. If you get too warm, then you’ll wake up. A good night’s sleep will help you feel physically refreshed and mentally alert the next day.
As we get older, our ability to deal with stress decreases. If you have long term stress it can damage brain cells and lead to episodes of depression. Other things that stress can cause are fatigue, decreased ability to recover from illnesses or fight off infections and it can also cause memory loss. If you are stressed, it’s advisable to take better care of yourself by eating foods which are nutritious, exercising and getting the right amount of sleep. You can also try some relaxation techniques such as mediation, yoga or circular breathing.
LOWERING RISK OF OSTEOPOROSIS AND FALLING
Bones tend to decrease in density as we age and for some individuals, it can lead to osteoporosis. It’s important to take calcium and vitamin D each day. Before doing so, however, talk to your physician to see what are the exact amounts you should take.
In addition, regular exercise strengthens muscles which helps to protect your bones. Walking, lifting weights or riding a bicycle are all ways to get healthier. Be sure to talk to your doctor first to see what exercise plan is right for you.
Also, please be sure to get a yearly eye examination. Sometimes you may not see as well as you think, and new glasses may be needed. If you can’t see well, it can lead to falls and injuries.
It is our goal at Fidelity HomeCare to help you maintain your independence and allow you to live the life you are used to living. Please call us today at (425) 999-9105 to schedule a free home care assessment and discover how we can provide personalized home care plans and service offerings to you or your loved ones!