In the U.S. each year, up to 40% of all deaths from the top five leading causes of death were preventable. This surprising statistic points to the importance of preventive care for people of all ages. Since the risk of many conditions increases as you grow older, it’s especially crucial for seniors. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to reduce your risks and stay ahead of health concerns, and following these tips is a great place to start.
Seeing health care providers regularly is one of the best things you can do for your health, as routine care can help catch serious conditions early on when they may be easier to treat. The Eastern Nebraska Office of Aging has compiled a helpful list of transportation resources for seniors in Omaha, NE, that can help you get rides to appointments. Residents of Hickory Villa senior living community can get free transportation as a part of its services and amenities.
If you don’t have any medical conditions, schedule a checkup with a medical provider at least once per year. Seniors who have chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol should keep all recommended follow-up appointments with their health care providers.
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are also important, because some diseases cause symptoms that affect the mouth. In addition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says people aged 65 and over should get a vision screening every 1 to 2 years, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association suggests everyone undergo hearing tests every few years.
Health screenings can help detect serious medical problems early. Your health care provider can give you advice about how frequently you should be screened for various conditions.
Common health screenings for men aged 65 and older include:
Women aged 65 and older may benefit from screenings for:
All seniors may be advised to get screened for:
A well-balanced diet can reduce your risk for medical conditions and help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a simple approach to meal planning called MyPlate. You can visit the MyPlate website to get a custom food plan based on your age, sex, height, weight and physical activity level. If you have a health condition that requires a special diet, a registered dietitian can design a custom eating plan for you.
Getting regular exercise can reduce the risk of a variety of medical conditions, including:
In addition, physical activity helps support a healthy immune system and may even relieve joint pain associated with arthritis.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people aged 65 and older do the following each week to support overall health and well-being:
Your health care provider can help you decide which types of exercise are best for you based on your health history.
Vaccines can help prevent infectious disease and/or lower your risk of becoming seriously ill from one. The CDC advises people aged 65 and older to get vaccinated for the following conditions:
Talk to your health care provider about which vaccines are right for you.
Your body and mind are connected, so chronic stress can take a toll on your physical health as well as your mental well-being. Stress has been shown to worsen and increase your risk for many health conditions, so finding ways to manage it is an important part of preventive self-care.
Exercising and eating a healthy diet can help with stress. You can also try relaxation techniques like stretching, meditation and deep breathing. Additionally, engaging in activities you enjoy and talking to people about your thoughts, fears and feelings can be beneficial.
Your diet can go a long way toward ensuring your body has the nutrients it needs to function at its best. However, some seniors may benefit from taking supplements like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Your health care provider can give you individualized advice about which supplements may be right for you.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer among men and women in the United States. In addition to regular skin cancer screenings, you can perform self-checks to spot changes in your skin that may be cause for concern. The American Academy of Dermatology has created a helpful guide on how to perform a skin self-exam to assist you.
Excessive drinking can increase the risk for heart disease, liver disease, certain types of cancer and other serious health conditions. For overall health, the CDC states that women should have no more than one alcoholic beverage per day and that men should consume no more than two daily alcoholic drinks.