7 Steps To Healthy, Happy Aging
Posted 10/24/2017 by UHBlog
Seniors who want to add life to their years often follow this advice: “I won’t let age change me. I’ll change the way I age.” In other words, by taking good care of yourself and following your doctor’s orders, you can ensure your golden years are just that.
“There is every reason to believe as seniors age, their lives can continue to be filled with good health, vitality and meaning,” says family medicine specialist Bradley Banko, MD. “By exercising, eating right and getting regular health screenings, your senior years can be some of the best years you’ll ever have.”
Dr. Banko has seven recommendations for healthy, successful aging that include:
- Stay physically active. Exercise lowers blood pressure, helps your body metabolize drugs, strengthens your muscles and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Even something as simple as walking a half hour, four days a week can have a profound effect on your physical and mental health.
“Good muscle tone enables you to avoid injuries,” Dr. Banko says. “By staying limber, you protect your joints and reduce arthritis pain. It's been shown that exercise can lower a person’s risk for dementia. If you don’t move it, you lose it.”
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Skip the junk food in favor of fiber-rich, low-fat and low-cholesterol foods.
“By eating a nutritious diet, you’ll lower your risk of diabetes, reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity, and improve your immune response,” he says.
- Stay current with preventative health screenings. Getting your yearly flu shot and being screened for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers should be an integral part of a senior’s regular health regimen. Also seeing your medical provider for check-ups, taking prescribed medications and aggressively protecting your skin from sun exposure can add years to your life.
- Drink less alcohol. Heavy drinking can affect blood pressure, cause heartburn and stomach problems, impair thinking and memory and increase the risk of certain cancers.
“Some seniors think that drinking alcohol at bedtime will help them sleep, but when the alcohol wears off, they wake up and suffer from insomnia the rest of the night,” Dr. Banko says.
- Stop Smoking. “This is good advice for any age,” says Dr. Banko. “Smoking makes arthritis problems progress more rapidly, cuts off the oxygen supply to bones, doubles the risk of heart attack and stroke, and is the leading cause of lung cancer.”
- Be Social. Maintaining a positive attitude and finding ways to add meaning to your life are important ingredients to successful aging.
“Isolation can be a problem for seniors, so it’s a good idea to attend programs at community centers or religious institutions,” he says. “It’s also good to volunteer, attend sporting events, plays and concerts, to travel and to keep in touch with family and friends.”
- Make your home safe. According to the Center for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for people 65 years and older. Here are ways to make your home safer:
- Add bright lighting throughout your home and put nightlights in hallways, stairwells and bathrooms.
- Avoid slippery floors by securely taping down rugs or getting rid of buckling carpets.
- Get rid of tripping hazards by making sure there are no loose electrical cords or dog leashes on the floor.
- Make your bathroom fallproof by strategically installing grab bars and handrails in the shower and throughout the bathroom. Put a non-slip rubber mat in the bathtub or shower.
- Use banister or hand rails on stairs.
Bradley Banko, MD is a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Brecksville Internal Medicine. You can request an appointment with Dr. Banko or any other doctor online.