Take Care To Age Gracefully
If you want to get the most mileage out of your car, you make sure to do the proper preventive care and maintenance. If you want your body to last, the same principle applies.
As we age, our bodies change. Staying ahead of these changes, knowing what to expect and how to plan ahead, can make a big difference. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. That’s where medical providers like us come in. To help share information on this topic, we’ll also be presenting and taking questions at a free event titled, “The Doc is In: Aging Gracefully” on May 17 at the Owensboro Health Healthpark.
Stalling For Time
Everyone is going to age. That’s just a fact of life. But we don’t have to take that lying down. We want you to have the best possible quality of life, and that means keeping diseases and problems at bay.
When it comes to prevention, the most powerful tools we have are preventive screenings. What you may not know is that many of these screenings and treatments are required by law to be covered by insurance, either private or Medicare. The following screenings or treatments are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for adults based on age, family history and other factors:
- Behavioral health: Depression screening is recommended for adults with risk factors, history or symptoms.
- Breast cancer: Mammograms are recommended every two years for women age 50-74 (earlier if there is a family history).
- Colorectal cancer: Screening colonoscopy is the best option for screening between ages 50 to 75 (earlier if there is a family history).
- Cognitive/Dementia: Screening is useful if there are symptoms to suggest an individual might have symptoms of dementia or other cognitive problems.
- Diabetes: Screening for diabetes is recommended for adults of any age with high blood pressure but who don’t yet have diabetes symptoms.
- Heart disease: Cholesterol screening is recommended for men 35 and older. Women 45 and older are recommended to receive screenings if they have risk factors for heart disease (Screening is recommended earlier for individuals with a family history or other risk factors).
- Hypertension: Annual blood pressure screening is recommended for individuals aged 40 and older who have risk factors for high blood pressure, including being overweight or being of African-American descent (race-related genetics can increase the likelihood of having high blood pressure). Individuals without risk factors should be screened every three to five years.
- Lung cancer: Individuals with a history of smoking or exposure to tobacco should talk to their doctor about being screened for lung cancer.
- Osteoporosis: Bone density scans are recommended for women 65 and older, and in younger women with increased risk factors.
- Prostate screening: The Preventive Services Task Force recommends against using certain screening methods for prostate cancer. Talk to your provider about risk factors and options for preventing or screening for this disease.
- Tobacco use: Smoking cessation tools and resources are recommended for adults of all ages who use tobacco products.
- Vaccinations: The flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals older than 6 months. A single pneumonia vaccine dose is recommended for all adults ages 19-64 who smoke. The pneumonia vaccine is recommended every five years for all adults age 65 and older. These two vaccinations are especially effective when both are used, as having the flu increases the risk of hospitalization and even death from opportunistic infections like pneumonia. Talk to your provider about other vaccines which may be important for you to receive, based on risk factors and your lifestyle.
Talking to your primary care provider is a great way to identify your risk factors for any of the above problems. They can also guide you through advantages and disadvantages of screening or treatment.
Balance Is Key
One of the greatest health risks as we age is risk of injury from falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans ages 65 or older experience a fall each year. Falls are also the leading cause of fatal injuries and non-fatal trauma admissions to hospitals among older adults.
Falls can also be devastating for adults even if they don’t cause injury. Fear and anxiety connected to falling can cause older individuals to limit their physical activity, which can lead to further loss of balance and strength. The saying, “Use it or lose it” definitely applies to strength, balance and overall mobility as we age, so it’s key to keep moving.
Here are some techniques we have to help prevent or reduce the risk of falls for older adults:
- Promote physical activity: The more active you are, the better your body is prepared to react and prevent a tumble. Owensboro Health has a number of programs and classes, including several offered at the Healthpark, which can meet this need.
- Medication reconciliation: Taking multiple medications can lead to interactions and side effects that affect balance and coordination. This can happen with both new medications and prescriptions that a person has taken for extended periods of time. Medication reconciliation is the first step to limiting or eliminating these side effects or interactions.
- Home assessments: Trained professionals can visit your home and offer advice and insight on potential hazards in your home.
Would you like a chance to learn more about aging gracefully? We’ll be presenting a program entitled “The Doc is In: Aging Gracefully” on Tuesday, May 17, at the Owensboro Health Healthpark. The event will include a health and wellness fair from 8 to 10 a.m., presentations with question-and-answer opportunities on the topic starting at 10 a.m., healthy snacks, tours of the Healthpark, and fun games and prizes. If you’d like to attend, RSVP by calling 270-688-4855.
Dr. Trasey Falcone is a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. Dr. Khanh Nguyen is a board-certified family medicine physician.
To learn more about Dr. Falcone, Dr. Nguyen or to request an appointment with a One Health provider, call 844-44-MY-ONE (844-446-9663).