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Seenagers: High School 50 Years Later

Posted 2/9/2016 by UHBlog

Do you know what factors will influence your health and well-being in older age? Ask us.

Seenagers: High School 50 Years Later

An “age wave” is taking over the U.S. By 2030, one in five people will be over 65, with the number of the oldest old – people age 85-plus – rising the fastest. Right now, aging baby boomers and seniors are redefining what aging means. In the process, they’re launching the era of the “seenager,” or senior teenager.

What’s a seenager? A poem that many older adults are sharing on forums and social media sites around the country sums up who comprises this group:

I am a Seenager (Senior teenager)

I have everything that I wanted as a teenager, only 60 years later.
I don’t have to go to school or work.
I get an allowance every month.
I have my own pad.
I don’t have a curfew.
I have a driver’s license and my own car.
The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant and they do not use drugs.
And I don’t have acne.
Life is great.

“For many older adults, age is just a number, especially those who are healthy, active and financially capable of doing what they like,” says community relations director Cyndie Bender. “Seniors represent a diverse population, and many of them are enjoying life to the fullest in their golden years.”

No matter what your age, certain factors will contribute to your ongoing health and vibrancy, Bender says. These include:

  • Good eating habits – Your ability to eat well is important to being well as you age, says Bender. Perhaps you have mouth pain, live alone or have a certain type of disease? Talk to your doctor about what adjustments can be made to accommodate your situation.
    In general, your diet should always include breakfast every day, high-fiber foods (whole-grains, vegetables and fruits), dairy products to help keep your bones strong and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Physical activity – Physical activity is important to aging well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you do aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities several times a week to minimize health problems you face, such as injuries related to falling.
  • Personal safety – Just because you’re a seenager, do you really want to act like a teenager? Some issues that full-of-life older adults may face are:
    • Sexually transmitted diseases – Viagra ads may cause you to forget that there is more at stake than erectile dysfunction. Avoid unprotected sex.
    • Binge drinking – According to the CDC, seniors drink the most of any age group. Your metabolism and tolerance change as you age, and excessive drinking can affect certain chronic conditions, such as stroke and high blood pressure.
  • Social connectedness – “Part of optimizing your retirement years is continuing to engage in an active lifestyle,” Bender says. “It helps you avoid feeling isolated and depressed.”
    Fortunately, many volunteer opportunities in the arts, culture and human services areas are open to seniors. Or consider joining a club, such as the Age Well, Be Well Club offered through University Hospitals Center for Lifelong Health. Its members enjoy monthly meetings, activities, exercise programs and local travel.
  • Regular physical check-ups – As you age, the number of chronic diseases and health issues you face increases. Medical problems, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, can diminish your quality of life and impact your independence. So can preventable diseases, such as the flu and pneumonia, against which there are effective vaccines. By visiting your doctor regularly, you can ward off some of these problems.

If you find you need additional services, the Center for Lifelong Health can help, Bender says.

“We can connect you to the right services at the right place and time,” she says. “We know that finding services for yourself or someone else can be confusing so our Center makes it easier. With one call, you are connected to our referral specialists who can help you find the UH services, specialists and community resources you may need. And, if rehabilitation is needed after a hospital stay, our friendly staff can provide the expert guidance you need to make an informed decision.”

Cyndie Bender is the director of Community Hospitals Post-Acute Relations at University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center.

You can request an appointment with a University Hospitals health care provider online.

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