Being over 50 is more than black balloons and jokes about aging. For men and women in their 50’s and beyond, preventive care not only helps keep you healthy, but it can help save your life. Preventive care includes taking measures to reduce your risk of diseases that can prematurely end lives, such as heart disease and certain types of cancer. It also includes screening for other conditions that affect your wellbeing and quality of life.
Five important areas of preventive care for men and women:
- Get regular checks-ups with your doctor.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Follow a nutritious diet.
- Get enough sleep.
- Know and follow your medication needs.
Most insurance plans cover an annual preventive checkup. During your visit, be sure to discuss any of these symptoms or needs that might apply to you:
- Any new or unresolved symptom
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Chest pain or feeling that your heart is racing or skipping
- Any infection or fever with muscle aches
- Unplanned changes in body weight
- Sores that won't heal
- Swelling or pain in the joints
- Changes in eye health
- Changes in cognitive function
- Any recent surgeries
- Changes or renewals of medications
- Any vitamins and supplements you take
Regular Physical Activity
Getting exercise can help preserve overall wellbeing, but specifically benefit heart, bone, digestive, and brain health. It can also help brighten mood and reduce depression. Talk with your doctor about exercises and activities that are right for you. The National Institute on Aging suggests four kinds of exercise for optimal health—endurance, flexibility, strength and balance.
Physical activity and exercise means moving your body in ways that your health and abilities allow. It doesn’t have to be rigorous or expensive, you can do simple things like going for a walk or bike ride, gardening or yard work, house cleaning, yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi, and pool activities like swimming and water aerobics.
Most importantly, find an activity you enjoy doing and schedule time to be active. Consistency is key when it comes to increasing activity.
A Nutritious Diet
Components of a nutritious diet include:
- Drinking enough fluids
- Eating plant-based foods and lean proteins
- Limiting foods that are high in sugar, fat, and sodium
- Watching portion sizes
- Planning meals ahead
Be sure to drink plenty of non-caffeinated and nonalcoholic beverages during the day. Water is an ideal choice. It helps flush out waste and keeps you well hydrated. Keep in mind that juice is not a good substitute for water as it often contains added sugar that amounts to empty calories.
Focus on foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories and fat, such as vegetables, fruits, and legumes. These foods pack a nutritional punch and help you feel energized and healthy.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep helps you stay healthy and alert. Adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, the next day you may be irritable, forgetful, feel depressed, or be more prone to falls and accidents.
You can do many things to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening.
- Relax before bed. Read a book (but not in bed), take a soothing bath (but not too hot), or listen to gentle music. Avoid using electronic devices before going to bed.
- Exercise in the morning or early afternoon.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day.
Know and Follow Your Medication Routine
If you take medications, consult with your doctor regularly about your needs for checkups, refills, or lab tests that may change your dosages. If you have questions about your medications, call your doctor’s office or pharmacy.