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The Bristal Assisted Living Blog

Posted by The Bristal  |  April 22, 2022

7 Ways Seniors Can Be Proactive About Their Health

Keeping yourself healthy is important at any age, and that includes being proactive today to help avoid or minimize future health concerns. Here are seven steps you can take to enjoy good health today and address potential health concerns before they become a problem.

1.  Maintain or Adopt Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits

healthy-diet-and-exercise

Healthy diet and exercise habits are an obvious choice for anyone looking to stay healthy, but they are also one of the best ways to ward off common health issues. If you’re already eating and exercising as you should, you’re one step ahead. And even if you don’t have good habits in place yet, it’s never too late to start.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that seniors 65 and older in good health spend at least 150 minutes a week doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.

Related: Why Exercise Really is Worth it - And How to Get Started >>

A healthy diet complements a healthy exercise routine, so consuming the appropriate number of servings of the five food groups each day will help you make the most of your efforts. You can use tools like MyPlate.gov to help you make meal plans that follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines.

Related: Healthy Diet Tips for Seniors Over 70 >>

2.  Receive Regular Wellness Checks

wellness-check

Visiting your primary care physician for regular wellness checks or physicals is another way to stay on top of any health concerns or identify health conditions sooner.

According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, primary care physicians are more likely to detect serious illnesses earlier on when they analyze patients’ “red flag” symptoms, such as headache, backache, or stomach pain.

Medical experts offer differing answers as to the ideal frequency of health checkups, but most agree that seniors should get regular, periodic physicals to keep an eye on their health and stay connected with their primary care physician.

3.  Closely Monitor Vitals and Symptoms

monitor-vitals

With all the advances in home medical technology, it’s never been easier to monitor your vital signs from home. You can also make note of any noticeably persistent symptoms, such as frequent headaches, joint pain, or digestion issues to share with your doctor. Keep a daily log of your vitals and any unusual symptoms so you can see patterns or changes over time.

In addition, there are certain symptoms that you should never ignore, as they could signal more serious health problems. These include:

  • Sudden confusion or memory loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Speech or balance difficulties
  • Constipation
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Abnormal skin lesions

If you notice symptoms such as these, you should seek immediate medical attention.

4.  Conduct Routine Screenings and Tests

Keeping up on routine screenings and tests is an important safeguard against serious health conditions that are common among those with similar demographics. See below for a list of some common screenings recommended for all seniors, as well as those specifically for females and males.

All Seniors 65 and Older

  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cholesterol screening
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Dental exam
  • Diabetes screening
  • Eye exam
  • Immunizations
  • Infectious disease screening (Hepatitis C, etc.)
  • Skin exam

Females 65 and Older

  • Osteoporosis screening
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cervical cancer screening

Males 65 and Older

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening

5.  Pay Attention to Family Health History

Since genes can play a role in some health conditions, keeping an accurate family health history is another useful tool to help you be proactive about your health. This kind of information is not only beneficial for you to know, but also for your health care providers as they address any health issues you may be having.

If you don’t have a family health history recorded yet, it’s worth putting together. Include any chronic illnesses or health conditions someone in your immediate family ― your parents, siblings and children ― has experienced. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews should also be included.

As you’re collecting information, be sure to include any relevant details such as causes of death, the age your family member was diagnosed, and ethnic background. Whether you have a lot of information or just a little, something is better than nothing.

6.  Have a Comprehensive Medication Review

medication-review

t’s common for seniors to be on multiple medications for different health reasons. What you may not know is that seniors may react differently to medications than younger people due to changes in how their bodies process medications.

In addition, if you’re on several medications for multiple health reasons, there is a potential for interaction between two or more of your medications. Such reactions could cause unwanted side effects or decrease the effectiveness of one or more of your medications.

For seniors who experience such issues, comprehensive medication management could present a solution. This process typically involves a pharmacist reviewing all your medications, identifying any problems, and coming up with an action plan to resolve the issues in question.

You can typically schedule a medication review with your primary care physician or local pharmacy. Check out this blog for tips on how to prepare for a medication review for yourself or a loved one.

7.  Don’t Wait to Address Health Concerns

According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, nearly a quarter of survey participants reported avoiding medical care. The top reasons included feeling uncomfortable while being examined and fearing a serious illness.

Fear and embarrassment are common, but they shouldn’t prevent you or your loved one from seeking medical care. There are practical steps you can take to reduce anxiety and stress that doctor visits may cause. If you need further treatment or care, you can work with your health care providers to come up with a plan, and you can also gain confidence and peace of mind that you’re doing all you can to stay healthy.

Find More Healthy Lifestyle Resources at The Bristal Blog

If you found this article helpful, check out some of our other blogs about maintaining a healthy senior lifestyle, such as trying the MIND diet for better cognitive health or 5 scientifically-proven ways for seniors to relieve stress.

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