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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Protect Your Health as You Grow Older

Here is some great information for seniors from healthfinder.gov. Check out the links below for more detailed information.

The Basics

Poor health and getting older don’t have to go together. To stay healthy as you age:

Eat healthy.
Keep your mind and body active.
Get regular checkups.
Take steps to prevent accidents.

Live longer and better.
Staying active can help you:

Reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer
Avoid falls and other injuries
Live on your own longer
Prevent depression

Plus, staying active may help keep your mind sharp.

Take Action!

Remember, it’s never too late to make healthy changes in your life.

Eat healthy.
As you get older, you may not be able to eat all the foods you used to eat. But eating healthy meals is still important, no matter what your age.

Here are some tips:

Choose lots of fruits and vegetables in different colors.
Make sure most of your grains are whole grains.
Drink low–fat or fat–free milk.
Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Stay away from trans and saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugar.

Check out these healthy eating tips for older adults (http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/young_heart.htm#tips).

Get active.
Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your health. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking or raking leaves.

Do aerobic activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. If it's hard for you to be active for more than 10 minutes at once, get your activity in 10–minute periods throughout the day.
Do strengthening and balance activities 2 days a week. Try these strength and balance exercises for seniors (http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseforolderadults/exercisestotry/01.html).
If you have a health condition, be as active as you can be. Your doctor can help you choose the best activities for you.
Follow these safety tips during physical activity (http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/young_heart.htm#safephysical).
Keep your mind active by reading, doing crossword puzzles, or learning new things.

If you smoke, quit.
Your risk of heart disease will start to go down right away. Call 1–800–QUIT–NOW (1–800–784–8669) for free support and to set up your quit plan.

Get regular checkups.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions or problems with your medicines.
If you think you might be depressed, tell your doctor. Depression can be treated and is nothing to be ashamed of. Learn more about depression and older adults (http://nihseniorhealth.gov/depression/aboutdepression/01.html).
Schedule important screening tests. Print out one of these checklists to show your doctor.
Stay Healthy at Age 50+: Checklist for Women [PDF – 100 KB] (http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/women50.pdf)
Stay Healthy at Age 50+: Checklist for Men [PDF – 100 KB] (http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/men50.pdf)

Stay safe at home and in the car. Older adults are at greater risk for injuries from falls, home fires, and car crashes.

Take steps to prevent falls.
Do these 4 things to prevent falls:

Exercise to improve your strength and balance.
Ask your doctor to review your medicines. Some medicines can make you dizzy.
Have your vision checked.
Use this home fall prevention checklist (http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/CheckListForSafety.html) to find and fix dangers in your home.

Put smoke alarms on every floor of your home.

Put smoke alarms on the ceiling just outside each bedroom.
Don't forget to put a smoke alarm in the basement.
Check smoke alarms once a month to make sure they are working.
Change the batteries every year. (Tip: Change smoke alarm batteries when you change your clock back from Daylight Savings Time in the fall.)

Get more tips on smoke alarms (http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/campaigns/50plus/smokealarms.shtm).

Watch for changes that may affect your driving.
Getting older doesn’t make you a bad driver. But changes that come with aging can make it harder for you to drive safely. You may have trouble seeing at night or find it harder to react quickly to avoid an accident.

Take these steps to stay safe:

Get your vision and hearing checked.
Always wear your seat belt.
Drive on streets you know.

Learn more about how you can stay safe behind the wheel (http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/drivers.htm).

Learn more about depression and using medicines safely.

Start Today: Small Steps

If you are planning a trip out of the country, get tips for safe travel (http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html#older_americans).
Check out these fire safety tips for older adults (http://www.firesafety.gov/citizens/firesafety/older.shtm).
Make an appointment to get your hearing checked.

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Content last updated on: June 09, 2010

National Health Information Center
P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133

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