As we age, we are more at risk for a variety of health conditions. However, adopting a healthy lifestyle early can help to delay the onset of many illnesses. People are living longer, so it is more important than ever to increase not only the quality of life, but also the quantity of it. Here are a few tips for living well through your golden years.
It is common as we age to experience moments of confusion and forgetfulness. More frequent episodes of confusion can be attributed to Alzheimer’s. Diet and exercise can help reduce your risk for the disease, but there is no way to prevent memory loss. While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown, many believe the changes to the brain evolve over decades, due to environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors. Studies have also shown that alcohol abuse can cause damage to the liver, esophagus larynx and throat, as well as the brain.
Bones and Joints
As we age, our bones and joints begin to fall victim to decades of carrying around our body weight. Osteoporosis and arthritis are common condition affecting the bones and joints. Osteoporosis weakens bones, leaving them more susceptible to breaks. The condition occurs most commonly in women. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in a joint begins to wear away, causing pain, inflammation and stiffness.
Calcium, vitamin D and exercise can all help to preserve the strength of our bones, even after age 40 when our bones begin to weaken. Not only will exercise and lifestyle changes benefit your bone health, but your overall health as well. Weight loss will decrease the impact on your joints. Losing 5 percent of your body weight can lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, sleep apnea and some types of cancers.
Ears and Eyes
Vision changes begin around age 40, making it more difficult to read small print without the aid of reading glasses. Around the same time a condition called Presbycusis occurs which causes a decline in hearing. While there is no way to prevent vision loss, annual eye exams can provide early detection of cataracts, glaucoma and other retinal disorders. For seniors experiencing hearing loss, hearing aids can help to improve their quality of life.
Digestive and Metabolic System
41 million people, approximately 40 percent of adults between the ages of 40 and 74 have pre-diabetes. This condition increases the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Reflux and heartburn begin to occur more frequently. However, losing weight and increasing physical activity can reduce your risk of diabetes by as much as 71 percent in seniors over the age of 60.
Bladder and Prostate
1 in 10 seniors over the age 65 experience bladder leaking. Bladder control issues are particularly common among women. As men age, the prostate grows larger making it more difficult to pass urine. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States.
Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake can be beneficial to your bladder health. Talk to your doctor about the impact certain medicines can have on your bladder. Seeking treatment for urinary tract infections or incontinence can help detect issues in their early stages.
Loss of Teeth
As bacteria builds in your mouth, it wears away at the enamel on your teeth and leads to tooth decay and gum disease. When left untreated, the infection can cause the bone, gums and tissue to deteriorate, ultimately leading to tooth loss. Brushing and flossing daily, along with routine visits to the dentist can prevent tooth loss.
Stress, sunlight, dehydration, cigarettes and other toxins can all leave skin with age spots, dryness and wrinkles. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. When left untreated, melanoma can spread to other organs in the body and become fatal. To keep your skin healthy, limit sun exposure and stay hydrated.
Many seniors also from shingles if they had the chickenpox as a child. There is a vaccine available to boost immunity against the virus.
Due to decreased vision, coordination, muscle strength, reflexes and other medical issues, falls are common among seniors. Removing rugs and other trip hazards in your home can help to reduce your risk of falls. A healthy weight, moderate exercise and a balanced diet can all help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, eye problems and kidney failure. Using walkers and canes can also aid in mobility.
These are just a few steps you can take for a long and healthy life. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan. To learn more about age related health, please visit http://www.nihseniorhealth.gov. For more information on aging or services offered at Riverwood Retirement Community, please call (706) 235-0807.