The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

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The National Sleep Foundation recommends that older adults age 65 and up get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. However, some seniors might find that they can function perfectly well on 5-6 hours of sleep, while some may need as much as 9 hours to feel fully refreshed and ready to face the day.

Sleep, much like food, water and oxygen, is essential to survival.  Without restful sleep, seniors are more prone to accidents because they can become tired and inattentive. Sleep helps our bodies restore its energy level and improves our health and overall quality of life.

Aging and Sleep – What Changes?

As we age, our sleep patterns and needs change. Newborn babies and infants, for example, need as much as 18 hours of sleep per day. Adults generally need between 7 and 9 hours to feel rested and functioning properly. Seniors, however, tend to get less sleep than they need due to a variety of reasons that are still being studied and determined.

Seniors often have more trouble falling and staying asleep than younger adults. One study of adults age 65 and over found that 13 percent of men and 36 percent of women can’t fall asleep within a 30-minute timeframe. Plus, seniors tend to sleep less soundly and get up frequently throughout the night. Or, changes in sleep patterns can occur; some seniors get sleepy much earlier in the evening or wake up very early in the morning.

These changes can be due to a number of factors. First, seniors can be more sensitive to noises in their environment. It’s also possible that seniors produce less melatonin, the hormone that helps promote sleep. Certain illnesses, medications and psychiatric problems can also affect nighttime sleep in older adults.

Promoting Healthy Sleep Habits for Seniors

While the amount of sleep we need can change as we age, problems with sleeping are not part of the normal aging process. The first step in managing healthy sleep habits is to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have. Sleep disorders can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as:

  • No more daytime napping. Sleeping throughout the day can make you less tired at night. Limit daytime naps, especially napping in the afternoons.
  • Establish a nightly routine. Every night, do the same things before you get into bed, whether this is enjoying a nice cup of decaffeinated tea, a warm bath, or settling down with a book or magazine. Let your body know that it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep.
  • Limit electronics in the bedroom. The artificial light emitted by TVs, computers, tablets and cell phone screens can suppress production of melatonin and affect our circadian rhythms (our biological clock affected by sunlight), making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Adding exercise to your daily routine will help you sleep more soundly. Just make sure you finish your workout at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Watch your diet. Avoid foods with high sugar content and caffeinated beverages later in the day.
  • Don’t stress about sleeping. If you’re unable to fall asleep after 15 minutes in bed, get up for a little while until you start to feel tired. Try not to worry about falling asleep immediately and stay relaxed. Your body will let you know when it’s ready for sleep.


Summer Skin Care Tips

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bigstock Relaxed older couple sitting i 21919451 300x200 - Summer Skin Care TipsSometimes, it can be difficult to resist the pull of the summer sunshine. Everyone loves soaking up some much needed vitamin D and feeling the warm rays on our skin. However, as we age, our skin starts to grow thinner and more fragile, and it needs to be protected more than ever. Damage from the sun is actually the greatest threat to our skin, so we need to make sure we’re taking the proper precautions before heading out on a hot summer day.

Elderly Skin Care in the Summer

It’s important to follow a few summer skin care tips to help avoid those damaging effects of the sun, which can lead to not only a painful sunburn, but also to something as serious as skin cancer.

  • Stay in the shade. If you’re going to be spending some time outside this summer, make sure you pick a shady area to sit, especially if you have to be out during the hottest parts of the day (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Stay under the trees or an umbrella that will block some of the strongest rays of the sun.
  • Wear sunscreen at all times. Any time you’re heading outdoors, apply a good dollop of sunscreen on any exposed skin, especially your face. The sunscreen should be a water-resistant, broad-spectrum product that protects against both UVA (ultraviolet short-ray) and UVB (ultraviolet long-wave) rays, and look for an SPF of 30 or higher. Those harmful UV rays can pass through both clouds and glass, so it’s important to remember to reapply your sunscreen often, especially after sweating or showering.
  • Moisturize often. Elderly skin can be prone to dryness, so a good moisturizer can help replenish your skin. Hot temperatures and sun damage can dry skin out even further, so create a moisture barrier with a high quality skin lotion or cream that will help prevent water loss from layers of skin.
  • Dress appropriately. Keep your skin safe by wearing long sleeves and long pants to block out the sun. Look for clothing that can be worn loosely, but is woven tightly to offer more substantial coverage. Some clothing is even made specifically with UV protection to provide extra sun safety while you’re outside on a walk or gardening.
  • Know your medication side effects. Some medications can cause sensitivity to the sun, making you more susceptible to serious sun damage like sunburn, blisters, swelling or rashes. If you aren’t sure of the side effects your medication may have with the sun, make sure you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before spending any great lengths of time outside.
  • Improve your skin from the inside. Certain foods can help improve the condition of your skin’s firmness, like those high in omega-3 fatty acids; salmon, tuna and mackerel are all high in omega-3s. Veggies and fruits are high in antioxidants and therefore also great for keeping your skin looking younger and healthier. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, too. Avoiding dehydration is vital in the summer.


5 Steps to a Healthier Heart

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bigstock Female doctor with stethoscope 18232925 300x200 - 5 Steps to a Healthier HeartOur heart is the hardest-working muscle in our body. Because heart disease is a leading cause of death, it’s important to adopt a healthy lifestyle sooner rather than later. Some risk factors can’t be changed, like family history, age and sex, but there are still some key things you can do to improve your overall heart health.

Easy Heart Health Tips

If you’re worried you’re at risk for heart disease, first make an appointment to visit your doctor. Knowing what your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels, as well as your blood pressure, weight, and body mass index (BMI) is the first step to plan for improving your heart function. Make a follow up appointment for a year later so you can see how much you’ve changed- hopefully for the better!

Improve your heart health with these 5 steps:

  1. Live healthier. Eating a heart healthy diet and getting regular exercise are key to a stronger heart. Studies have shown that women who eat lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, as well as maintain a healthy weight have a 92% decreased risk of a heart attack compared to less healthy women. Getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes every day by walking, biking, swimming, etc. along with eating right will improve your heart, even if you start in small steps.
  2. Quit those bad habits. If you smoke, it’s time to quit! Smoking tobacco puts you far more at risk of developing heart disease. Talk to your doctor about how best to go about kicking this bad habit once and for all.
  3. Unwind a little. Learn how to relax and unwind for a while every day. If this means turning off the TV or electronic devices, so be it. When we get stressed out, our bodies increase adrenaline and this can overwork our hearts. De-stress by talking to a good friend, exercising, doing yoga, or just sitting quietly looking out the window.
  4. Get some Z’s. Getting plenty of sleep is good for your heart. Sleep allows our bodies to shut down and recover, which is good for all aspects of our health. AS we sleep, our blood pressure and heart rate go down, giving your heart a break. Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more than twice as likely as those getting a good night’s sleep to die of heart disease.
  5. Stay social. For better heart health, exercise with a friend! Having a good social support system not only helps you stay motivated to continue with your workout regimen, but also can lower your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that people who stay socially active have significantly lower blood pressure and other factors for heart disease than those who are isolated from others.

Adopt a healthier lifestyle today to avoid heart problems in the future!


How to Properly Manage Medications

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bigstock Bottle of spilling medicine 62500856 300x200 - How to Properly Manage MedicationsToday, many seniors are living longer with chronic conditions and relying on a variety of medications to help them stay well. It’s not uncommon for a senior to have to take upwards of 10 different pills every day, plus essential vitamins, too. Managing medications on this level can be a challenge, but it’s vital that prescriptions are taken properly to help keep seniors healthy and out of the hospital.

Medication Management for Seniors

Taking so many medications at once can lead to dangerous drug interactions and overmedication in seniors. Some common mistakes seniors make when it comes to taking medications include taking more than the doctor prescribed or taking them incorrectly, like taking them on an empty stomach when the directions say to take with food. Plus, older adults tend to metabolize drugs differently, which can harm their health if they aren’t managing medications correctly.

Here are some easy ways for seniors and their caregivers to properly manage their medications:

  • Make a list. Keep an ongoing list of all the medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you take on a daily basis. The list should include the dosage and the reason you take it, as well as the time of day you take it and any further instructions, like taking with a full glass of water or with food.
  • Bring the list to doctor appointments. Once this list is created, bring it to any doctor appointments with you so your physician is aware of your medications and can provide any new information about them. Update the list with any new instructions the doctor gives you.
  • Store medications properly. Most people store medications in their bathroom, but this is actually not the best place for storage. The bathroom can be warm and damp and cause drugs to break down more quickly. Plus, some medications need to be stored in the refrigerator. Make sure you read the labels carefully so you’re storing them in the proper place.
  • Use the same pharmacy for all medications. Streamline the process for picking up new prescriptions by using one pharmacy for all medications. This way, the pharmacist can keep tabs on what medications you are on and can help eliminate side effects and adverse reactions to new drugs.
  • Schedule refills in advance. Don’t wait until you’re on your very last pill to refill prescriptions. Even just skipping one pill can cause problems in your treatment program.
  • Know what to do if medication is missed. If you do miss taking a medication because you ran out or you just forgot to take it when you were supposed to, know what the next step is. Talk to your doctor about how you should proceed- should you just wait and take it at the next scheduled time, or should you take it as soon as you remember?
  • Learn about the side effects. Knowing about the possible side effects you might experience from your medications is important so you stay aware of any changes to your current health in response to the new drug. If you experience any adverse effects, talk to your health provider right away.

Daily medication management can be difficult for seniors and their caregivers, but it’s important to develop and maintain the best system that works for you. Make sure you take medications as prescribed so you stay in the best health and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.


Eating Right for Better Brain Health

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bigstock Retired couple enjoying meal a 67727614 300x200 - Eating Right for Better Brain HealthMost seniors probably already know that eating a well-balanced diet is important for their overall health and fitness. However, did you know that what you eat can also affect your memory and cognitive function? Healthy eating can not only reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, but it can also help improve your memory, protect your brain cells and lower your chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The Best Foods for Brain Health

There’s no time like the present to take a look at your current diet and evaluate where some changes could be made. Maybe you find that you have a sweet tooth and reach for a sugary treat every evening after dinner. Or, maybe it’s just simply easier to reach for a bag of greasy potato chips for a snack rather than choose a healthier option. What are some easy choices you can make that will be part of a brain healthy diet?

Some of the best foods for brain health include:

  • Green, leafy vegetables: Dark green veggies like kale and spinach are considered superfoods that can help protect your brain from damaging free radicals. They are good sources of folic acid, which may help lower levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood; high levels of homocysteine can possibly trigger the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.
  • Food high in omega-3s: Fish like salmon, tuna, pollock and cod are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including the key omega-3, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA has been reported to be important for the normal functioning of neurons in the brain. In fact, a study has shown that those who get 900 mg of DHA daily made as few mistakes on a memory test as someone seven years younger! You can also consider taking a supplement of DHA to get more of it in your diet. Other foods high in omega-3s are avocados, eggs and olive oil.
  • Vitamin E-packed foods: Researchers have noted that foods high in vitamin E are often associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This may be due to the fact that vitamin E can help trap those free radicals that cause damage to brain cells. You can find vitamin E in foods like walnuts, sunflower seeds, avocados, peanut butter, almonds and hazelnuts.
  • Berries: Many new studies have shown that berries can help reduce the effects of age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s, due to the fact that they can protect the brain from oxidative stress. Choose berries high in antioxidants like blueberries, strawberries and acai berries.
  • Coffee and tea: Love your morning cup of coffee? Enjoy it! Coffee can also help fight off oxidative stress and reduce your risk for neurodegenerative diseases. Plus, studies have shown that those who consume 3 cups per day were 65% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia. Prefer tea instead? Tea (black, green, oolong, etc.) is also great for your brain, as it contains an amino acid called theanine that can help activate the part of your brain that is connected to your attention span.

How to Eat a Brain Healthy Diet

The key to starting a brain healthy diet is to make smarter decisions about what’s going in your body. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats, processed foods, sugars, and any grain that isn’t whole grain. A general rule of thumb is that if your food can go bad, it’s good for you, while if what’s in your kitchen can last many, many years, it’s bad for you. Plan your meals and snacks for the week ahead of time so you don’t find yourself reaching for that convenient, sugary snack instead of a healthier option.


The Importance of Healthy Blood Pressure for Seniors

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bigstock Medical exam 25138550 300x200 - The Importance of Healthy Blood Pressure for SeniorsNearly one in three Americans suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure, and millions more will be diagnosed this year. High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to health issues like heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and more. Most people who have high blood pressure actually feel just fine and may not even be aware of their condition. This is why hypertension is often called “the silent killer”.

Why Seniors Should be Concerned about Blood Pressure

As we age, it’s common for our blood pressure to rise. In fact, the older you are, the more at risk you become for hypertension. A normal blood pressure reading for most adults is 120/80; however, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that for adults age 65 to 79 a healthy reading is 140/90 or less, and those over 80 years of age should be around 140/90 or 145/90. Even those with healthy blood pressure at age 50 have a 90% chance of developing hypertension in their later years.

What do those numbers mean? The first number is called systolic blood pressure, and this is the pressure caused by your heart pushing out blood. The second number, the diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when your heart fills with blood. Systolic hypertension occurs when the arteries close to the heart begin to stiffen, causing them to be less responsive to blood flow.

High blood pressure for seniors can lead to health complications and damage in the blood vessels and organs. The longer high blood pressure goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage it can cause.

How to Lower Blood Pressure

There are certain risk factors associated with high blood pressure that you can’t change, such as your age, family history, gender (before age 55, men have a higher risk of high blood pressure, while women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after menopause), and race. However, you can control your blood pressure by making some lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, you’re more at risk for hypertension. Even just losing 10 pounds can help lower your blood pressure.
  • Make healthy food choices. Cutting out processed foods and eating a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products can lower your blood pressure.
  • Exercise 30 minutes every day. Consistent exercise helps lower your blood pressure. Try to get around 30 minutes of physical exercise most days of the week. You can walk, swim, jog, go for a bike ride- anything that gets your heart rate up.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. If you find you’re having trouble sleeping and are snoring or even feel like you stop breathing for a few moments at a time, talk to your doctor. Sleep apnea can put you at higher risk for hypertension.
  • Lower your sodium intake. Most Americans consume far more salt than we need. Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can help reduce your blood pressure levels.
  • Cut out alcohol. Men and women age 65 or older should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day. Excessive alcohol intake plays a role in high blood pressure.
  • Quit smoking. Each cigarette you smoke can increase your blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about effective ways to quit.

Along with these lifestyle changes, if you’re already on medication to help manage your high blood pressure, make sure to take it regularly. Don’t take more than your doctor prescribed, and don’t stop taking your medication unless your doctor tells you to do so. Try to take your medication at the same time every day, and if you do skip a day, don’t double the dose the next day.

The Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System

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bigstock Senior Couple Walking Through 69240046 300x200 - The Best Ways to Boost Your Immune SystemCold and flu season is upon us, and while the exact number of deaths each year from seasonal flu is not known, we do know it’s a serious illness that lands numerous amounts of people in the hospital in the United States. Seasonal influenza can lead to a variety of other complications, like pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure.

In the elderly, most deaths from the seasonal flu are associated with the secondary complications that come from it, like bacterial pneumonia; pneumonia, respiratory infections and the flu are actually the leading causes of death for those age 65 and older. As we age, we become more susceptible to these infections, as well as other inflammatory diseases and cancers.

How to Boost Your Immune System

Germs are all around us, and it’s important that we take care to keep them from entering our bodies. Our immune systems are comprised of a very complicated network of cells, tissues and organs designed to keep us healthy and fight off infection and disease. As we get older, our immune system can start to change, and some of the cells can begin to lose their ability to communicate with each other and allow in more potentially harmful germs.

So how can you stay healthy and strengthen your immune system in preparation for the colder months ahead? Well, the first step is to practice healthy living overall! For instance, kick those nasty habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, maintain a healthy weight, control your blood pressure, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. Remember to wash your hands often and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze to avoid the spreading of germs.  Get to the doctor for your annual physical, too, as well as for screening tests for the risks you might be facing in your age group.

Immune System Boosters to Keep You Healthy

Studies are still being conducted to better understand how our immune systems work. However, there are a few immune system boosters for seniors and extra precautions older adults can take to help prevent more serious health issues from arising.

Here are just a few ways to give your immune system that extra boost it might need in the coming months:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Fill your diet with fruits and veggies, which are rich in vitamins, as well as beta-carotene and zinc. It can be easy for older adults to get stuck in a rut with their foods, so try some new things. Make sure you’re eating a low-fat diet with plenty of whole grains and lean proteins. Adding in some superfoods like kale and berries helps, too!
  • Get regular exercise. 30 minutes of regular exercise a day can help keep the doctor away! Staying active helps strengthen your immune system to better fight off those nasty infections. Studies have shown that people who don’t exercise are more likely to get colds than those who do.
  • Stay socially connected. Even better? Work out with a buddy. Keeping those social connections strong also makes your immunity levels strong.
  • Get adequate sleep. For adults, it’s recommended to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is one of the best ways to allow our bodies time to recover and rebuild our strength and energy levels.
  • Drink plenty of water. It’s common for seniors to not feel thirsty very often, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to stay hydrated. You need at least 8 glasses of water per day to keep your mucous membranes moist- your daily coffee, tea or soup all count as water!
  • Avoid unwanted stress. Constantly feeling stressed out can take a toll on your health and make you more vulnerable to illness and infection. Learn how to manage stress, whether through meditation, social connections, or exercise.
  • Get vaccinated. It’s recommended that older adults receive an annual flu shot to help reduce the risk of sickness and even death.


The Biggest Senior Nutrition Myths

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bigstock family holidays thanksgiving 100171382 300x200 - The Biggest Senior Nutrition MythsThroughout our lives, eating a proper diet is essential for helping us stay healthy, active, and at an ideal weight. For seniors, eating healthy is even more important due to all the great benefits a good diet brings, like building stronger bones and teeth, aiding in digestion issues, building cognitive function, and keeping all systems of the body functioning as they should.

However, our eating habits and nutritional needs do tend to change as we grow older. Seniors need the proper nutrients possibly more than any other age group in order to maintain their health and feel better overall. Proper senior nutrition can help decrease the risk for issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Senior Nutrition: Debunking the Myths

That said, there are certain myths surrounding senior nutrition. Here are just a few of the most common ones, as well as some healthy eating tips for seniors to ensure your loved one is getting the nutrition that is so vital to quality of life:

  • As long as seniors are eating something, they’ll stay healthy. In seniors’ cases, eating anything at all is not necessarily better than eating nothing at all. Many older people find that cooking a meal gets too difficult or time-consuming, and will reach for prepacked snacks or frozen dinners. However, these types of foods are usually high in sodium and fats and can lead to health complications- even malnutrition!
  • All seniors will inevitably lose their appetites. It’s true that our metabolisms slow down as we get older and we’ll need less calories. However, when seniors lose their appetites altogether it’s usually a sign of a more serious health problem.
  • Seniors who are already at a healthy weight can eat whatever they want. It seems like we all know that one person who can eat whatever he or she wants without gaining a pound. However, just because they’re at what appears to be a healthy weight doesn’t necessarily mean that they are healthy. Eating excessive amounts of sugar or fatty foods can lead to complications like diabetes or heart disease.
  • Eating alone isn’t a problem for seniors. Studies have shown that a senior will eat better and more with others. Seniors are prone to depression, often stemming from loneliness, and are less inclined to cook a healthy meal just for one person. One of the main benefits of an assisted living community is the dining experience they offer to residents, with healthy, delicious meals eaten in a social setting.
  • Skipping meals is no big deal. When seniors don’t feel as hungry as they used to, they might think that skipping a meal here and there is just fine. However, this can lead to overeating when they do sit down to eat and can actually further decrease their appetites altogether.
  • Following general nutrition guidelines is all a senior needs to do to stay healthy. Our needs do change as we age, so food that is good for someone in their 30s may not have the same dietary requirements someone in their 70s needs. Seniors need additional vitamins and nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D for better bone health. Plus, some types of food may present adverse reactions to medications seniors are taking.

It’s important to pay attention to your elderly loved one’s eating habits. If you notice extreme weight loss or gain, talk to their doctor to see if any changes are needed to keep them healthy, happy and improve their overall quality of life.


The Importance of Knowing Your Family Health History

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bigstock Extended Family Relaxing Toget 13914674 300x200 - The Importance of Knowing Your Family Health HistoryOur genes determine the color of our hair and eyes, whether we are tall or short, and even some of our mannerisms. Along with our looks and the way we act, we can also inherit a greater risk for developing certain diseases. This is why knowing your family health history is so crucial not only to staying healthy yourself, but also protecting your children and future generations to come.

Family History and Your Health

When you take the time to do a bit of research on your family medical history, you’ll be able to assess your risk for certain illnesses or chronic conditions. While it’s not possible to change our genes and whether we are more susceptible to diseases because of family history, once you know what you’re more at risk for you can start making necessary lifestyle changes to reduce some of that risk.

Knowing your family health history can also help determine if you should consider genetic testing for certain diseases. Plus, you might identify conditions that might not have been previously considered during a routine health evaluation. You might also be able to tell if other members of your family may also be at risk, and find out how likely it is that you passed on these risks to your children. Some of the most common conditions that are passed down through the generations are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and asthma.

Family Health History Research Tips

Documenting your family health history is an important project to tackle. While it’s not a sure prediction for your future, knowing the chances you might be more prone to some diseases can provide an opportunity for early prevention and leading a healthier lifestyle to reduce some of your risk.

If you’re wondering how to start researching your family health history, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Ask questions. The first step is to talk to your family members. Find out if they have any chronic conditions you should be aware of and ask about their lifestyle habits. You need to know if the way they lived their lives increased their risks. Were they smokers? Heavy drinkers? Did they exercise regularly? If they do have some diseases, find out how old they were when they were diagnosed.
  • Document everything. Keep a notebook of your research findings. This way, you can share the information with other family members, too. Record things like your family members’ current ages, medical conditions and the age at which they were diagnosed.
  • Share information with your doctor. Along with sharing your research with your family, you should also make a copy to give to your physician and other healthcare providers as needed. Your doctor can assess your risk for the same diseases and recommend changes to your lifestyle.
  • Get screening tests. Based on your risk, your doctor may also recommend certain screening tests for early detection. These tests can help you start any necessary treatment plans as soon as possible.
  • Pay close attention to your own health. At the very least, once you know what certain conditions are part of your family health history, pay attention to your own health and note any symptoms that start to seem out of the ordinary.

Knowing your family health history is key to your overall wellness and living a longer, healthier life.


How to Live Well in the New Year

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bigstock Portrait of senior couple on h 17010749 300x200 - How to Live Well in the New YearWe are nearing the end of the holiday season, which means it’s time to look forward to a fresh new year ahead. As we get ready to welcome in 2016, making some resolutions to live better can help us focus on successful aging while enhancing our overall health and wellbeing.

Healthy Aging Tips for the Year Ahead

Changing your lifestyle can be difficult, but it’s also imperative for healthier aging! You’ll feel better, look better, and just be happier in general. However you choose to ring in the New Year, take a moment to focus on how you can adjust your life in the days to come and create some resolutions. Here are a few healthy aging tips to keep in mind for a successful, happy new year:

  • Try something new. Whether you choose to learn a new hobby, take up a new exercise, or even take a trip somewhere you’ve never been to, trying something new cannot only expand your knowledge or enhance your physical health, but it can also expand your social circles! Building relationships as you age is key to your quality of life.
  • Exercise your mind. Physical activity is vital for your health, and keeping your brain active is also imperative. Take a class at a senior center to learn something you’ve always wanted to know. Or, simply challenge your brain with Sudoku or crossword puzzles. The more you are using your mind, the more memory muscle you’ll build and the better your brain will work.
  • Schedule those annual health screenings. Get a complete physical at least once a year, and find out if you should get screenings for vision, hearing or even serious conditions like cancer if it runs in your family. Early prevention is key to managing most health problems!
  • Safeguard your home or living space. Protect yourself from a debilitating fall by making sure your home is as safe as it can be. Remove throw rugs and loose cords from the floor, install handrails in the bathroom if necessary, and increase lighting throughout your living space.
  • Eat fresh. Choose healthier, fresh foods like fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins and whole grains. The way you eat will affect your weight, as well as your emotional and cognitive health.
  • Take your vitamins. Add taking a multivitamin to your daily routine if you aren’t already taking one. Just make sure the vitamin you choose has 100% of the daily value for most vitamins and minerals.
  • Quit unhealthy habits. Toast the New Year with a smaller glass of champagne. Cutting back on your alcohol intake can help alleviate depression and health issues that come with excessive drinking. If you are a smoker, now is the time to quit! You’ll reduce your risk of serious health conditions like heart disease, plus you’ll be able to breathe easier and will feel more energetic overall.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Seniors need at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night, just like their younger counterparts. Try to avoid daytime napping and learn how to unwind and relax in the evening hours.
  • Speak up when you’re down. If you’re feeling isolated and depressed, talk to someone about it. About 1 in 5 older adults suffer from anxiety and depression, so if you’re feeling blue, irritable, or are no longer enjoying things you previously loved to do, reach out to your doctor or a friend or family member.