There seems to be a common misconception that as we enter our senior years we take a rest from the things we love. We stop working, put away our sports gear for knitting needles, and forgo travel for the comfort of our padded recliners and house shoes.
In reality, we are in our golden years. While relaxing at home and taking on new hobbies is fantastic, there is no reason we have to give up on all the things we enjoy in life.
To put it bluntly, getting old doesn’t mean we have to get boring. Of course, having the ability to continue doing what we love does mean taking care of our bodies and implementing changes where we can.
So, what can we do to prolong our health?
From increasing exercise to utilizing specialty doctors, there are a lot of options out there. Let’s take a look at some health care tips for seniors and a few ways we can enhance our lives.
Get Routine Health Checkups
Think of your body like a classic car. You can keep it polished and clean, keep the tires inflated, and fill the gas tank, but you still need a tune-up before taking it to the track.
Attending regular health checkups can help identify the early signs of many illnesses. This is important because early intervention is often the best way to overcome major health problems, no matter our age. These checkups can provide additional health care tips for seniors to improve your quality of life.
Remember, your health is handled by more than just your standard doctor. These health exams should take place at your general care physician, optometrist, and dentist.
General Care Physician (GCP) Visits: What to Expect
You should see your GCP at least once a year for an annual exam, but don’t be shy about seeking out counsel anytime your health changes.
At your annual checkup, you will be given routine tests and evaluations to assess the state of your health. These include:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Work
- Fecal Blood Test
- Prostate Check
You may also be asked to submit to additional testing that is usually done once every three to five years. This includes bone mass measurements, EKG, colonoscopy, and more. One of our top health care tips for seniors is to trust your doctors when they request additional testing.
Seeing Your Optometrist: What Are They Looking For?
Regular visits to the eye doctor become more important the older we get. This is because as our bodies age our eyes can naturally begin to lose their strength and resilience, which can lead to an increase in diseases and disorders.
Some eye issues that become more common for people over 55 include:
- Age Related MGD
- Dry Eyes
- Retinal Detachments
- Diabetic Retinopathy
Eye health is tricky because those who suffer from these illnesses often don’t realize how badly their eye health has degraded. The gradual onset of many of these issues can trick us into not realizing there is any problem in the first place. Regular eye exams can help catch these issues early, which improves your odds of recovery.
Visiting the Dentist: Why You Should Go Twice a Year
By now, you may be tired of hearing “finding issues early can improve odds for recovery,” but it is especially true for dental work. Seeing your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and exam can keep your teeth looking great and provide the opportunity to correct minor issues like cavities before they turn into major issues like periodontal disease.
Dentists can also help you overcome issues you didn’t realize were medically related – issues like dry mouth and tooth sensitivity. One of our most important health care tips for seniors is: if you have seen a change in your oral health or the general comfort of your teeth and gums, go see the dentist.
Signs You Should See a Doctor Between Checkups
Of all health care tips for seniors, paying attention to your own body is at the top of the list.
While regular health exams are very effective in preventing illness, some issues can come on suddenly. Don’t suffer for months until your next appointment. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may want to make an appointment sooner rather than later.
- Shortness of Breath
- Sudden Changes in Stool
- Discomfort or Pain that Doesn’t Go Away
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Vaginal Bleeding Post Menopause
- Skin Lesions or Wounds that Won’t Heal
- Trouble Remembering and/or Speaking
These symptoms can be signs of serious health issues. In fact, they may lead to you being referred to a healthcare specialist.
Digestive Health Specialist
If you have changes in your digestive health like frequent diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain, you may be referred to a gastroenterologist.
These doctors have an intimate knowledge of the human digestive system and the issues that may be faced as we age. It can be ingrained in many of us to not talk about our bathroom troubles and do deal with discomfort, but we shouldn’t feel that way. Our list of health care tips for seniors wouldn’t be complete without breaking that stigma.
Not only is it perfectly acceptable to discuss our bodies with our doctors, but discomfort is often a sign of deeper issues that need to be resolved. Gastroenterology treatments allow the specialist to view inside your stomach and GI tract so they can pinpoint the exact cause of your troubles.
When it comes to health care tips for seniors, we may not have one more important than this:
If you are having problems remember or forming sentences, seek out the help of neurosurgical services.
There are a wide range of issues that can all start with some mild memory problems. A neurological specialist has the ability to take images of your brain and assess your behaviors carefully to determine the underlying cause. They can also get you started on the path to recovery or preparation for handling a degenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s is one of the most common health issues seniors face, so they need to use health care tips for seniors to help prepare for it. It is a type of dementia that affects thinking, memory, and behavior. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s will eventually grow severe enough that they interrupt your daily activities and abilities. The disease is progressive, so the symptoms will start out mild and become increasingly problematic. Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s may not be able to carry on a conversation or respond to their environment. Although people have been known to live up to 20 years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the average individual with Alzheimer’s will live four to eight years after diagnosis.
While there is currently no cure to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, catching it early can help you temporarily slow the symptoms and treat them. This is why one of the most important health care tips for seniors is to seek help if you notice that you’re having memory or other neurological problems. By spotting the signs early, you can get treatment for the symptoms and help prepare your caregivers and yourself for more severe symptoms as it progresses.
Podiatrists can be a senior’s best friend. These doctors specialize in foot and ankle health, which can be vital for maintaining our mobility and ability to participate in sports and other activities.
Podiatrists can even help with minor issues that cause major discomfort. Things like corns, ingrown toenails, and calluses can all be addressed with your podiatrist. These doctors can also provide health care tips for seniors to avoid foot and ankle injuries.
A joint restoration specialist, also known as a Rheumatologist, can help alleviate issues involving restricted movement/ rotation and pain in and around your joints. Often times, these issues can be caused by the inflammation of the cushioning pads that surround our joints. However, there can also be underlying illnesses like lupus or gout that can cause similar symptoms.
That’s why it is important to seek the advice of a joint specialist anytime you feel prolonged discomfort in your wrists, ankles, knees, or any other joints.
If you have been seeing your doctor regularly, you should know the level of activity that is recommended for your state of health. Whether you are cleared for minimal activity or maximum, there are fun ways to keep your body moving.
Activity Ideas That Cause Minimal Physical Impact
If you are suffering from physical ailments that keep your activities limited, you might feel pretty discouraged. Many people suffering from joint disorders or other impairing illnesses find themselves stuck at home, bored. Luckily, there are a lot of great ways to get out of the house and take in a little activity.
- Swimming: A no-impact workout that can even cater to those with zero use of their lower body.
- Yoga for Seniors: a low-impact approach to yoga that focuses on regaining balance and enhancing flexibility.
- Pickleball: Similar to tennis, but pickleball equipment is crafted to be lighter and lower impact.
- Gardening: Gardens can be created in raised planters to assist those with trouble bending and sitting.
Alternative Health Treatments
Those who suffer from chronic pain may be seeking alternative treatments that don’t involve opioid relief. Modern medicine has started to embrace the positive effects of many treatments that were once considered silly or downright illegal.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation have become popular among the senior community thanks to the alleviation of joint and muscle pain that can be achieved. Additionally, those who try yoga and meditation report a decrease in stress levels along with an increase in overall flexibility and range of motion.
Medical marijuana has been through a lot of tribulation due to a stigma that cannabis is a gateway drug. Luckily, scientists and medical professionals have proven that marijuana is an effective treatment for pain, anxiety, and many other issues. Now, many states make finding a medical cannabis dispensary easy. Applications for a medical card can even be completed online.
Float therapy might sound like new age nonsense, but the effects speak for themselves. Float therapy involves submerging yourself in a tank of salt water. The salt in the water allows you to float effortlessly. The tank is closed off from all sensory stimulants, which creates an interesting experience where you can truly relax.
Those who have tried floating therapy report an immediate alleviation of chronic muscle and joint pain, along with the lowering of stress and anxiety.
Keeping Your Home Healthy
With all the time you may be spending enjoying new sports or participating in alternative medicine, you might find it difficult to keep your home nice and clean. While that isn’t much of an issue for most people, those with chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders aren’t so lucky.
The sanitation of a home can be extremely important to many seniors, which is why the existence of sanitizing services is such a relief.
Many maid companies and pest control services have begun offering sanitation options to their clients. This involves meticulously cleaning surfaces for germs, mold, and bacteria that can harm residents.
Making Life Plans
You may feel overwhelmed trying to decide how to spend your senior years. Especially in today’s economy when retirement isn’t always an option. Some seniors have begun using the skills of a life coach to help them create a plan.
Life coaches not only help create beneficial goals and structure in your life, but they also provide the support and motivation you need to take on challenges head-on.
How To Stay Independent When You Can’t Care For Yourself
As we age, sometimes our health gets to a point where we simply need help. Often, this may lead to us moving to a retirement home or senior facility. While there is no shame in that, many of us wish we could get extra care without leaving our beloved family home.
This is where senior home care comes into play. Senior home care specialists come to your home and help in the same way nurses at a facility would. They can cook, clean, assist you in the restroom or shower, and change medical equipment.
The caretakers are trained to provide optimal health care tips for seniors while also abiding strictly to doctor guided treatments.
End of Life Care
When the time comes for our journey to end, we may require additional care and support. Hospice care facilities can aid in this effort.
These facilities are filled with medical professionals who make improving your quality of life a top goal. They can keep you comfortable and safe as you work through your final days.
When choosing a hospice facility, try to find reviews from the family members of past residents. Ensure that the facility is clean, well-regarded, and properly funded to maintain top care.
Being seniors doesn’t mean we have to let our bodies decline as they please. It also doesn’t mean we have to keep our mouths shut about pain and discomfort. Modern medicine is filled with treatments and therapeutic options to keep us healthier and happier for longer.
So, why not enjoy our golden years? Following our top health care tips for seniors and experimenting with new sports and activities is a great starting point for optimal quality of life.
If you attend your regular checkups and focus on physical and mental health, you can find a whole new appreciation for being a senior. It’s never too late to start being healthy and happy.