As we age, our health needs change. Seniors are more likely to develop chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and memory conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, all of which can have an impact on your quality of life.
Getting older doesn’t mean that you have to give up on living a healthy and fulfilling life. Taking a proactive approach to your health can help ensure you maintain good health into your golden years. Prioritizing preventive medicine is one way you can help prevent serious health conditions as a senior.
Preventive medicine focuses on identifying and addressing health risks before they become serious health conditions. For seniors, this means taking proactive steps to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health to prevent illness. Preventive medicine can be as simple as taking actions like eating a balanced diet and staying active.
What is Preventive Medicine?
When you think of medicine, there’s a good chance that you think of it as something used to treat an already existing illness. Unlike traditional medicine, preventive medicine aims to prevent medical conditions rather than treat them.
Regular check-ins and screenings with your healthcare team are an important part of preventive medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlight some important preventive services for seniors, including:
- Screening for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer
- Immunization for diseases such as flu and pneumonia
- Counseling about personal health behaviors
In addition to clinical preventive medicine, seniors can take steps to lead a healthy life at home. This includes eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and participating in regular physical activity.
It’s also important to keep in mind that preventive medicine doesn’t just apply to physical health. Taking care of your mental and emotional health is also an essential part of living a healthy and fulfilling life. Seniors should also prioritize socially and mentally stimulating activities.
Why is Preventive Medicine Important?
Preventive medicine helps ensure you maintain good health and avoid costly and potentially life-threatening health problems. Preventive medicine can be particularly important to seniors, who may be more susceptible to certain health conditions.
By participating in preventive medicine strategies, seniors can reduce their risk of developing a serious health condition, as well as prevent the progression of existing health conditions. This can lead to improved overall health, increased longevity, and a better quality of life.
Preventive medicine may also help to reduce the likelihood of expensive medical treatments and hospitalizations. By preventing or delaying the onset of health conditions, individuals can sometimes avoid the high costs associated with managing chronic diseases and other serious health problems.
Preventive Medicine for Seniors
A successful preventive medicine strategy will involve both individual actions and input from your healthcare team, including several or all of the following steps for healthy living.
What you eat plays a key role in maintaining overall health. A healthy diet can lower your risk of a number of serious, potentially life-threatening health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Studies show that healthy food can also play a role in preventing memory conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Some guidelines to follow for a healthy diet include:
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables: Try to incorporate a range of colorful, nutrient-rich fruits and veggies into your meals.
- Eat lean protein: Focus on healthy sources of protein like seafood, lean meats, and plant-based proteins (nuts and legumes).
- Eat whole grains: Go for products that are made of mostly whole grains.
- Limit processed foods: Try to focus your diet around whole foods and limit your intake of processed foods that might be packed with salt, sugar, and oil.
- Stay hydrated: Make sure to drink water throughout the day. Try swapping sugary sodas or juices with a cold, refreshing glass of flavored water.
Staying physically active during your golden years is one of the most important actions you can take to maintain good overall health. The CDC recommends that adults 65 and older get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This could mean going on a brisk walk around your community for 30 minutes 5 days per week.
Seniors should also make time for activities that strengthen muscles at least twice per week and activities to improve balance 3 times per week. Exercise can be difficult for some seniors, especially for individuals experiencing mobility challenges, so remember to go at your own pace.
Taking care of your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Staying socially active by spending time with your friends and family can help boost your mood and may even play a role in preventing dementia.
Similar to our bodies, our minds need stimulation to stay healthy. Mentally stimulating activities like engaging in your favorite hobby or completing the morning crossword puzzle can help keep your mind active and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Visit Your Doctor
Regular check-ins with your doctor are an important part of any preventive medicine strategy. Your doctor can help make sure that you are up-to-date on health screenings and vaccinations. Having a regular check-up can also help your doctor detect potential health problems early when they are more treatable.
For seniors already living with a medical condition, regular doctor appointments can provide an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns or questions you have about your health or medication with your doctor. Managing existing medical conditions to prevent them from progressing is also an important part of preventive care.
The Care Your Need
Taking a proactive approach to health care can allow seniors to maintain healthy, fulfilling, and independent lives. While we have outlined some preventive medicine steps that you can take, we understand that some seniors may require extra support to achieve their health and wellness goals.
At All American Assisted Living at Wareham, we provide Optimal Living services to help seniors maintain good health with a tailored, disease-specific approach to health and wellness. Contact us to learn more about the care and services we provide.