While aging is part of life, the health issues associated with getting older don’t have to be. Whether you are a senior citizen yourself or your loved one is over 65, basic preventive measures can help make the later years truly golden. Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group Texas Medical Center reminds you to take the first S.T.E.P.
Whether you’re 16 or 65, you can support older adults. Many seniors struggle to find transportation, causing them to forego doctors’ appointments and other important errands. Offer to drive your older loved ones when they need a lift. Invite your older relatives or neighbors to take a walk with you or share a nutritious meal. Check in with the seniors in your life and make sure they have the resources to stay healthy.
Difficulty with memory and thinking clearly are common problems for seniors. For some older adults, it can become such a struggle that a caretaker is needed. Sometimes, Alzheimer's or dementia develops, creating an even more pressing need for a support system. If you are experiencing memory or brain issues, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to discuss diagnosis, treatment, and support options.
While other brain-related issues might be a typical symptom of aging, depression is not. Nevertheless, many seniors suffer depression, especially after a major illness or diagnosis. Depression often goes undiagnosed, written off as a natural reaction to a difficult time. If you’re feeling constantly or uncontrollably sad, ask your primary care physician for a referral to a psychiatrist.
A third of seniors do not exercise regularly, even though staying active is essential to healthy living. For older adults who don’t have transportation or who suffer from injuries that make walking painful, getting out can be a challenge. If you’re a senior who struggles to exercise, talk to your doctor about devising an exercise plan that works for you. If walking is painful, maybe an aquatic aerobics or yoga class would be right up your alley! If transportation is an issue, walk the hallways of your apartment complex or circle your neighborhood with a friend.
Older adults are at a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases including pneumonia and the flu. Ask your doctor about getting vaccinated for both the flu and pneumonia. Seniors, ask those around you to get vaccinated and avoid contact with people who are contagious. If you know a senior who doesn’t have access to transportation, offer to drive them to the doctor for their yearly vaccines.
Regular appointments and cancer screenings are also vital for senior citizens because older adults are at a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. However, less than half of seniors are up to date on their screenings and other routine services. Check with your doctor to be sure you’ve had all screenings and vaccines you need. Be sure to locate your nearest St. Luke's Health emergency room so you know where to go when minutes matter.
If you’re a senior, find a physician today to be sure you’re doing everything you can to make these years the best yet!
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