New York Primary Care Physician, Claudia Rivera, MD of Family Practice of Rockland in Valley Cottage, shares what you need to know about aging.
As you get older, it's more important than ever to stay on top of your health. By taking care of yourself, you can extend the number of years you live a full and productive life. You'll feel better and be able to participate in more activities.
You also may be able to limit the number of medications you take as you age. Adults 65 and older are taking more medications than ever before. Seventy percent take at least one heart drug, and 47% take a cholesterol-lowering drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are some tips for staying healthy as you age:
- Exercise regularly. You'll be able to stay fit enough to keep your independence. You can also reduce the risk of many illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression. Choose something you enjoy, such as walking, bike riding or dance.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Load up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and cut back on salt. Eat less highly processed foods. Check food labels to see how much sugar is in processed foods like bread and even canned soup.
- Keep your brain active to stave off cognitive decline. Learn new things. Try learning a new language, take a class, read books…anything that challenges your mind.
- Have regular checkups. Routine screening tests can find health problems early, before they become difficult to treat. Bring a list of your current medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, including herbal supplements.
- Get an annual influenza vaccine.
- Get your vision checked on a regular basis.
- Don't stint on sleep. Older adults often sleep less as they age, which can increase the risk of falls, memory problems and depression. If you're having trouble sleeping, stick to a regular bedtime routine. Don't watch television or spend time on the computer while you're in bed. Don't drink caffeine late in the day.
- Don't keep yourself isolated. Make time to see friends and family on a regular basis. Join a club or sign up for a regular activity that you find fun.
By taking steps to help prevent age-related disease and injury, you can help ensure that you'll be healthy enough to enjoy the years ahead.