When you think of being old, I am sure certain visions come to mind: less and/or grey hair, false teeth, eyeglasses, a cane or a walker, hearing aids. Maybe you are an aging optimist “You are only as old as you feel.” Well I guarantee, if you don’t pay attention to the things you do now, you will feel as old as you are someday, maybe even older.
The main focus of Healthy Aging® Month this September is to inspire and educate adults ages 50 and above to focus on the health of their physical, mental, social and financial lives. That is a valuable goal; but why should we wait until 50? A lot of damage could certainly be done by then. So, I say, start now, no matter what age, taking care of yourself today, is the best insurance for great tomorrows (and lots of them).
Ways to stay healthy fill store shelves and consume countless television commercial air time hours. The keys to healthy aging can be very simple:
1. Alcohol use: Keep it at a minimum. Be aware that the recommended maximum consumption for:
Healthy men: 1 to 2 14 g servings per day, not to exceed 14 servings per week
Healthy (non-pregnant or breastfeeding) women: 1 14 g serving per day, not to exceed 7 servings per week.
2. Diet: Consume a healthy daily diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with limits on foods with high calories, sugar, salt and fat. Follow recommended serving and calorie guidelines, find them here.
3. Emotional bonding: Love another living being and be loved. This does not have to be a spouse/partner. Friends, family, and pets are all important in nurturing our emotional side, and caring for others provides fulfillment as well.
4. Exercise: Find something you like to do and as Nike says “Just Do It”. Participate in regular physical activity for a minimum of 2 and ½ hours per week (see recommended guidelines.) Walk your dog; he will love you even more. Take a swim, ride your bike in the park. Do it with someone else (see #3). Whatever it is, get moving, both your body and your mind will thank you for it.
5. Intellect: Read a book, start a new hobby, visit new places, see a foreign film. Stimulate your brain; it makes you more interesting to friends and family (see #3).
6. Joy: Sounds easy right, but how many folks do you see every day walking around looking “mad at the world”. Joy can be found in the sound, sights, smells, tastes and touch of each and everything around us. You just have to stop and take the time to notice. It also goes hand in hand with #’s 3, 4, and 5.
7. Medical care: Prevention, prevention, prevention. See you doctor when you should, have the screening tests that are recommended, and follow prescribed treatments. Those folks from #3 want to keep you around a long time.
8. Sleep: The current recommendation for adequate sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours a day. Follow it so you can have energy for #4, a clear head for #’s 5 and 6, and studies show help with #11. For more sleep related information, click here.
9. Sun exposure: Sun exposure does help a vital nutrient Vitamin D, so some is good. It is important to be smart with sun exposure as current estimates are that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. This link offers information on lowering you skin cancer risk.
10. Tobacco use: NONE, ZERO, NAUGHT, NIL, ZILCH is how much tobacco you should use.
11. Weight: Follow your physician recommendations on a healthy weight. I bet if you follow #’s 1, 2, and 4, this one will be a breeze.
Hopefully, you can take this list and start today with one or two of these healthy lifestyle tips. Once you get going, no one can stop you from aging healthy!
As part of Healthy Aging Month, CMS is encouraging healthcare professionals to utilize Medicare-covered preventive services when addressing the health and quality of life of their patients.
Some of the preventive services covered under Medicare Part B include:
Alcohol Misuse Screening and Behavioral Counseling Interventions in Primary Care
Annual Wellness Visit (Providing Personalized Prevention Plan Services)
Cardiovascular Disease Screening
Depression Screening in Adults
Initial Preventive Physical Examination (IPPE) (also commonly referred to as the “Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit)
Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease
Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity
Tobacco-Use Cessation Counseling
For More Information:
MLN Preventive Services Guide for Health Professionals