Page 17 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - January 2016 - 23-01
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Senior Times - January 2016 Page 17
Making a choice to eat better, exercise, watch your weight, see your healthcare provider regularly, or quit smoking once
and for all, can help you get healthier and feel better for many more years to come. The American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging would agree and shares their top priorities for older adults.
Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy and healthy fats.
In later life, you still need healthy foods, but fewer calories. The USDA’s updated MyPyramid for older Adults, at, and your healthcare provider can help you make good choices.
Experts recommend eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily –
but less than a third of older adults do this. To eat well, be sure to: Choose a variety
of fruits and vegetables. Go for deep colors: dark green, bright yellow and orange choices. Spinach, collard greens, carrots, oranges,
and cantaloupe are especially nutritious. Choose fiber-rich whole grain bread, rice and pasta. Pick less fatty meat, like chicken, and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt. Have heart-healthy fish, like tuna or salmon, twice a week. To help keep your bones strong, include sources of calcium and Vitamin D. Two daily servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese are a good way to get these nutrients. And use healthier fats, such as olive and canola oils, instead of butter or lard.
Take a multivitamin. Check labels and choose a multivitamin that includes 100% of the “daily value” for most vitamins and minerals.
Exercise. Exercise can be safe and healthy for older adults – even people with illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or arthritis! In fact, many of these conditions actually improve with mild
to moderate exercise. Exercising can also help you control your weight, build your muscles and bones, and improve your balance, posture, and mood. Note: If you’re planning to start exercising, or to exercise more, check with your healthcare provider first to plan an exercise program that’s right for you.
See your doctor regularly. You should have a complete physical at least once a year. At each visit, talk to your healthcare provider about the medications you’re taking (over- the-counter and prescription). Ask whether you should be getting any shots or screening tests for vision, hearing, and other conditions such as breast or colon cancer.
Toast with a smaller glass. Try to limit your alcohol consumption to a safe amount for older adults. Excessive drinking can make you feel depressed and can contribute to other health problems. One drink = 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or one ounce of hard liquor. The recommended limit for older men is 14 drinks per week and for older women,
7 per week.
Guard against falls. One in every three older adults fall each year – and falls are a leading cause of injuries and death among older adults. Exercises such as walking or working out with an elastic exercise band
can boost your strength, balance, and flexibility, and help you avoid falls. You should also bring all of your medications to your healthcare provider so he or she can make sure you’re not taking any pills that can make you more likely to fall. Eliminate items in your home that are easy to trip over, like throw rugs. Insert “grab bars” in your bathtub or shower, and install night lights so it’s easier to walk around at night.
Give your brain a workout. The more you use your mind, the better it will work.
Read. Do crossword puzzles. Try Suduko.
Socializing also gives your brain a boost;
so join a bridge club or a discussion group
at your local library or senior center. Or take a course at your local community college. Some offer free classes for adults 65 and older.
Quit smoking. Did you know that cigarette smokers have a greater risk of developing heart disease than non-smokers do? You can reduce your risks of many health problems, breathe easier, have more energy, and sleep better if you quit smoking – no matter how long ago you started. To make quitting easier, the National Cancer institute has a special website ( for long-term smokers. Ask your healthcare provider for help, as well. Even if you’ve tried to quit before, try again. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good.
Speak up when you feel down or anxious.
About 1 in 5 older adults suffer from depression or anxiety. Lingering sadness, tiredness, a loss of appetite or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed, difficultly sleeping, worry, irritability, and wanting to be alone can be signs of depression. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any of these signs for more than two weeks, and reach out to friends and family.
Get enough sleep. Older adults need less sleep than younger people, right? Wrong! Older people need just as much - at least 7 to 8 hours a night. Avoid daytime naps, which can keep you up in the evening. Visit the National Sleep Foundation ( for more tips on how to sleep better.
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