Maryland’s population of older adults is increasing with more than 100,000 new persons over 65 in the last decade. A growing percentage of our population will need support to maintain independence and manage health.
Remaining healthy while aging
Although the risk of disease and disability increases with advancing age, good health is possible at all ages. Many adults over 65 are challenged by one or more chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes. The “Chronic Disease Self Management Program” helps individuals with chronic conditions learn how to manage and improve their own health, while reducing health care costs. The program focuses on issues such as pain management, nutrition, exercise, medication use, emotions, and communicating with doctors. Learn more at the Center for Healthy Aging website.
A healthy mind is important
By some estimates, 1 in 6 people age 55 or older experience a mental health concern. Some of the most common mental health conditions include anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairments. Although concerning, these conditions can be managed. A person can reduce the effects of a mental health condition by eating well, exercising, increasing social interactions, learning a new skill or participating in a new activity, and by getting the recommended amount of sleep. For more information about mental health in older adults click HERE.
Each year, one in three adults over 65 is injured by a fall. Falls can cause injuries such as hip fractures, head traumas, and even death. While falls are a threat to the health and independence of older adults and can significantly limit their ability to remain self-sufficient, falls are largely preventable. There are proven interventions that can reduce falls and help older adults live better, and longer. Being aware of how to prevent falls in the home is essential to avoiding injury. For more information about injury prevention in older adults click HERE.
Dental issues are often ignored
It is now well known that a healthy mouth is vital to a person’s physical health. Poor oral health affects the entire body and generally results in poorer overall health conditions. Since we are living longer and are more likely to keep their natural teeth, ongoing dental care in later life is essential. The health of our gums and teeth depends on how well we have cared for them over a lifetime. Issues regarding receding gums, dry mouth, and gum disease are especially prevalent in aging populations. For more information about oral health in older adults click HERE.
Medications have risks
Older adults account for 13% of the population but 34% of all prescription medication use (National Council on Patient Information and Education, 2007). Changes that take place to our body and mind as we age can act as a barrier to the safe use of medications. All medicines, prescription and nonprescription, have risks as well as benefits. We must respect the power of medications and recognize the importance of their proper use in a healthy lifestyle. For more information about oral health in children and adolescents, click HERE.
Dementia is a growing problem
Dementia is a general term for the loss of memory and other mental abilities that interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. Alzheimer ’s disease is the most common form of dementia that causes memory loss and affects both thinking and behavior. Alzheimer ’s disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. For more information about Alzheimer's, click HERE.
Prevention is the key…..
Older adults can remain healthy, live longer, and delay or prevent numerous diseases by doing the following:
1. Exercise Regularly
Engaging in physical activity of any kind for 20-30 minutes, for 5 or 6 days a week can help to improve illness. Older adults should discuss exercise options with their physicians.
2. Eat Well
Eating a healthy diet comprised of different foods including fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains is necessary to maintain a balanced diet. Limiting the amount of saturated fats consumed is also essential.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Watching portions and balancing the number of calories consumed with the number burned through exercise are helpful in maintaining a healthy weight
4. Quit Smoking
Talking to a physician about receiving assistance to quit smoking is necessary to improve health and prevent illness.
5. Utilize Preventive Services and Practices
|Use preventive services like screening tests to find disease early, and get vaccinated to prevent the transmission of harmful illnesses. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, more preventive services are now available to older adults receiving Medicare benefits. Print off a copy of this checklist to discuss with your doctor or health care provider which services are right for you.