Doctor’s appointments, dentists, chiropodists, hearing and eyesight checks; the list goes on. Keeping healthy in old age is important whether it be for regular well-being and lifestyle care or for chronic illnesses and serious health issues.
People who had good health habits when they were younger tend to stay relatively healthy. But it is never too late. Good health habits can make a difference even to elderly people who are prone to illness or have not made their health a priority in the past. To help you navigate their health care needs, we’ve put together our top 10 tips for keeping healthy in old age.
Our guide to keeping healthy in old age
We’ve formulated this guide from personal experience and spoke to many people who battle with keeping health in old age. We’ve formulated our top 10 musts to keep healthy.
1. Take advantage of regular health checks
The NHS offers everyone 40 – 74 a full health check every 5 years, aimed at reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and some types of dementia. Most surgeries offer an annual check-up for all patients over 75.
Read about how to get an NHS Health check here: NHS health check up.
2. Focus on prevention
The NHS offers a full programme of screening for a wide range of diseases and conditions, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, cholesterol, heart disease. The screening offered depends on age, health and family history. They also offer annual flu and pneumonia vaccinations.
For more information on the Flu jab vaccination visit: NHS Vaccinations
3. Keep up with medication
If possible accompany your elderly relative to their GP regularly to review their medication. Ask questions about possible drug interactions, and take note of any new symptoms (drowsiness, allergic reactions, loss of appetite and others) after starting or changing medications. Ensure that drugs are being dispensed in a way which makes it easy to take them regularly (using daily Dosette boxes, for example) – and for you to monitor if necessary. Also, make sure to get the right medicines and avoid substance abuse no matter what!
4. Visit the dentist every six months
The risk for cavities goes up with age. Plus, many mouth infections can be linked to serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So elderly people should visit the dentist regularly for check-ups.
5. Screen for eyesight changes
Elderly people who wear glasses should have an eye test and get their prescription checked every year for changes, as well as have their eyes screened for health issues such as glaucoma. Having the right pair of glasses can significantly reduce the risk of falls.
6. Remember mental health
Research shows that mental stimulation helps to ward off a decline in mental health. Crossword puzzles, quizzes on the TV, books and radio plays and discussions, are just a few of the ways you can encourage them to stay mentally active and engaged with the world.
7. Stay physically active
Exercise not only increases energy but improves memory and alleviates depression. Short strolls, long walks or an exercise programme approved by a GP, can keep elderly people healthier longer. Even better, find an exercise class or a local walking group. It’s so much easier to keep motivated in the company of other people.
Some ideas to keep healthy could be:
- Walking the dog
- Days out with friends
- Exercises Classes
- Gym Membership or you can opt the home gym.
All great for socialising too!
8. Eat healthily
The digestive system slows down with age, so high-fibre fruits, vegetables and whole grains are as important as ever. Because elderly people are prone to dehydration, they should drink plenty of water to stay energised and sharp. Have a look at the article on nutrition and hydration.
9. Get some sleep
Insomnia and frequent waking in the night are common among elderly people. There is nothing wrong with a nap in the afternoon to catch up on some sleep, but it’s important to ensure the bedroom is a calm, quiet and comfortable place for them to get as much sleep as they need.
10. Be sociable
Time spent with friends, children and grandchildren helps elderly people feel connected, especially if they have mobility issues. And those visits can make elderly people feel more upbeat and laugh, which is the best medicine at any age. If possible help your elderly relative keep up with technology so that they can stay in touch with family and friends, even when they cannot visit them.
Do you have other tips for keeping healthy in old age? Share your thoughts in Age Space Forum.
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Paul Wallis is an optometrist specialising in working with blind and partially sighted people. Read the first chapter of his book Macular Degeneration – A Guide to Help Someone you Love.