By Holly Glen Gearhart
No doubt you’ve heard “60 is the new 50.” Senior health is not all about pills and nursing homes anymore. In fact, the years past the age of 60 can be the healthiest years of your life. There is a plethora of organizations to help you maintain good health.
Some new additions have come to Medicare coverage which includes more preventative screenings. Added to their list of services, available at no or very low cost, are bone density, cardiovascular, and abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings. Results from the screenings will assist your doctor in determining if you need immediate help, or are at risk for developing a debilitating illness.
Another resource can be found online. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) joined with the National Institute on Aging to develop the “Go4Life” program which is specific to populations over the age of 60.
“Go4Life, an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, is designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life,” says a statement on the website. “Motivating older adults to become physically active for the first time, return to exercise after a break in their routines, or build more exercise and physical activity into weekly routines are the essential elements of Go4Life. Go4Life offers exercises, motivational tips, and free resources to help you get ready, start exercising, and keep going.”
You can find this information online at http://go4life.nia.nih.gov/.
Studies have shown that the adult onset of diabetes II is less likely if you exercise, stop smoking and add more vegetables to your diet. Taking on an exercise program after the age of 60 may be a daunting task for someone who has not previously been all that active. Starting small can make a big difference. Remember that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” according to Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu.
To help you take that first step, the University of Washington has partnered with “Project Enhance,” a national initiative to attract older adults and get them more active.
The East County Senior Center in Monroe is the local “Project Enhance” facility and uses the exercise programs designed for older adults. You can check out “Project Enhance” at http://depts.washington.edu/hprc/activity.
Nutrition plays a big part in overall wellness for the mind, body and spirit. Studies at the NIH have shown that a well-balanced eating plan, “…may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. Healthy eating may also help you reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes.”
Diabetes is a “lifestyle” illness that can be prevented with good nutrition and exercise. If your family history includes type 2 diabetes, your chances of developing the illness is much higher. Your doctor can help you determine if you have, or are at risk for developing diabetes– with a simple blood test.
“Eating well gives you the nutrients needed to keep your muscles, bones, organs, and other parts of your body healthy throughout your life,” according to the NIH. If you have concerns about your nutritional needs or cannot afford these foods, DSHS can supplement your groceries through the “Basic Food” benefit program; check out http://foodhelp.wa.gov/index.htm for information and to apply for help with your nutritional needs.