October 10, 2006 > Healthy Aging is All in Mind and the Body
Healthy Aging is All in Mind and the Body
by Washington Hospital
One of the top news stories this year certainly has been about the first wave of the Baby Boomer generation turning 60. How can you approach your sixth decade and beyond with a healthy body and mind? How do you continue to enjoy the zest for life while you grow old? Healthy Aging Month is an annual observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older.
A proactive approach to healthy living can substantially improve the quality of life as you enter the senior years. Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent the physical and mental illness that sometimes affect seniors.
“As we age, we should be aware that many changes happen to our mental and physical being that increase our chances of becoming ill,” says Deborah Garcia, R.N., Washington Hospital’s Manager of Health Promotion. “To help prevent illness, it is important to get as least eight hours of sleep, eat a low fat, high fiber diet, drink water, exercise at least 40 minutes a day and have hobbies we enjoy. Having hobbies keeps us mentally fit and socializing.”
For aging adults, doing activities that are good for the body are also good for the spirit. Regular exercise for seniors is very important because they are at higher risk for disease or lost mobility. Even an adult who has not exercised regularly can start exercising anytime and attain the health benefits of physical fitness. Remember, before starting any new exercise program, consult with a health care professional to find a program that is right for you.
Sometimes aging is all in the mind, especially when older adults forget to keep learning and trying new things. A healthy mind comes from socializing, playing games, traveling, volunteering, being active in a church or another organization, dating, taking a class and keeping a sense of humor. Interacting with grandchildren or helping with a youth organization is mutually beneficial for the young and the old. Take advantage of the free time you now have since your children have moved out, or since you have retired. Try something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t before.
There are general health concerns that all aging adults should keep in mind and discuss with their health professionals. Garcia says older adults should know their cholesterol and glucose levels, blood pressure, and get treatment from a health professional if necessary. She notes that Washington Hospital offers many free services to help you become aware of your vital numbers, such as free BMI (Body Mass Index), osteoporosis and blood pressure screenings.
Garcia says that older women have additional health issues to which they need to pay attention. “For women, it is important to take calcium to prevent osteoporosis. One glass of milk contains 40 percent of your calcium needs,” Garcia says, adding that free osteoporosis screenings are offered at Washington Hospital. “A once-a-month self breast exam is also very important,” Garcia says.
Washington Hospital Health Connection advisors are available at (800) 963-7070 to discuss the various health resources available to aging adults in the Washington Hospital Healthcare District. If you do not have a regular physician, call the Health Connection line for information regarding our physician referral service. Washington Hospital has more than 350 physicians on staff representing a broad range of specialties and Health Connection advisors can help you find a specific physician.
You can also visit www.whhs.com and click on “Find A Physician” to find the most comprehensive listing of physicians in the Tri-City Area.
For more information on the positive aspects of aging, visit the Healthy Aging Campaign at www.healthyaging.net