The game of healthy aging
Aging may be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to feel young and maintain your health in the process. “Embracing the art of aging starts with identifying issues that reduce quality of life and creating a care plan to address these concerns,” says Robert Keyes M.D., Ph.D., geriatrician and co-director of The Christ Hospital Center for Health and Aging.
To age gracefully, Dr. Keyes says apply the “use it or lose it” mentality to your physical, emotional and social wellbeing. “If we want to preserve our physical and cognitive abilities, then we have to exercise them,” says Dr. Keyes. To do so, follow these five tips for successful aging:
Eat right and supplement nutrients when needed. Maintaining a healthy diet is especially vital to prevent age-related health issues such as heart attack, stroke and dementia. To reduce these risks, indulge in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lean meats and fish.
Additionally, calcium absorption and vitamin D production decrease with age. To get adequate amounts of these essential nutrients (required for bone and heart health), Dr. Keyes suggests taking a 600 mg calcium supplement twice daily and 800-1000 units of vitamin D3 daily.
Stay active. “Research proves that exercise is likely to increase our lifespan,” says Dr. Keyes. How? By decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity and depression, and by maintaining muscle and bone strength and endurance.
Most healthy baby boomers should focus on the four basic types of exercise:
- Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes of moderate intensity, five times per week. Try walking, swimming, a stationary bike, recumbent cross trainer or exercise class.
- Strength training between two and three times per week, using weights, calisthenics or resistance training.
- Flexibility exercises can include 10 minutes of stretching the major muscle groups on days you exercise.
- Balance exercises can be incorporated into the other types of exercise to improve stability and prevent falls.
- Keep up on immunizations and screenings. Immunizations, such as the tetanus, pneumonia and influenza vaccines, as well as screenings for cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, hearing and vision can help prevent age-related diseases. The Christ Hospital’s Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment can also help you, your family and your physician identify lurking health issues.
- Monitor and manage medications. Make sure that each doctor and specialist you see has an accurate, up-to-date list of your medications. Use a single pharmacy to track all of your medications and prevent dangerous drug interactions; carry a list of your medications with you in case of emergency; and store medications in a weekly pill organizer to stay on schedule.
- Keep your doctors informed. If you see a primary care physician and several specialists, each of them must be aware of your medical history. The Christ Hospital uses an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system to instantly communicate among your care providers. EMRs typically contain a patient's health history; lab test results; prescriptions; referral orders; treatment plans; instructions for care; educational materials; and alerts for return visits.
Don’t be afraid to seek help along the way. “A strong social network that includes your family, friends and health providers can often be the key to maintaining your health and independence,” Dr. Keyes says.
Learn how to become a member by calling 513-585-4001 or visiting www.TheChristHospital.com/SeniorCare.