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5 Tips for Senior Wellness

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking – all good habits at any age – are vital for long-term health. But there are many other things seniors can do to help ensure health and wellbeing as they age.  Here are five important reminders and tips.

1. Keep Moving
Arthritis affects almost 50 percent of all adults over age 65, which can contribute to a lower quality of life. Although the pain of arthritis can discourage you from exercise, your doctor can help you select activities to keep you moving and minimize the pain that can come from inactivity. Low-impact aerobics, strength training, and stretching can help prevent stiff joints while building muscle. And walking is still the best exercise at any age!

2. Prevent Accidents
Falls send thousands of seniors to the emergency room every year. The majority of falls happen in the home, and most can be avoided by taking a few precautions. Tripping is a common cause, so make sure area rugs are secure, and cords aren’t blocking pathways. Avoid slippery floors in the bathroom and kitchen with non-skid, absorbent mats. And keep a nightlight on or a flashlight handy for nighttime trips to the bathroom.

3. Mind Your Hearing and Vision
Fading eyesight and diminished hearing can increase vulnerability, reduce social interactions, and limit quality of life. Changes can happen gradually, and are often accepted as an inevitable part of aging. Annual vision and hearing tests can detect impairments and proper devices or procedures can help keep you independent and safe.

4. Get Immunized
Flu and pneumonia are among the top causes of death for those over age 65, yet both are largely preventable. Make sure you get a flu shot every year, and talk to your doctor to see if you need the pneumonia vaccine. And, if you had chicken pox as a child, ask your doctor if you should be immunized for shingles, a painful and itchy rash that affects one out of three people over the age of 60.

5. Minimize Alcohol Consumption
As we age, our bodies may respond differently to alcohol. Impairment can occur after just one drink, and can affect balance, judgment, and driving. Alcohol can also interfere with many medications, minimizing their effectiveness or causing danger (or even fatal) interactions. And even moderate drinking can worsen many health conditions including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. Talk to your doctor about how alcohol may affect any health issues you have, and make sure you understand any potential interactions with medications you take.

El Camino Hospital’s Senior Health Program is designed to help you maintain good physical and mental health, prevent disease and preserve your independence through a variety of services. For more information about the program, read our frequently asked questions on the Senior Health Program page of our website.

This article first appeared in the February 2016 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.