The first wave of baby boomers are turning 65 years old this year and
becoming "senior boomers" and Medicare-eligible. In fact, more than 10,000 baby
boomers a day are now turning 65—that’s one every eight seconds, a pattern
expected to continue for the next 19 years.
Happily, aging is different now than it was for our parents and grandparents.
Today, there are more people living longer than at any other time in history. In
fact, boomers will number 78 million by 2030. “This generation, associated with
social change including the civil rights and anti-war movements in the 1960s,
has another important cause—staying healthy,” says soon-to-be 65-year-old Arthur
Hayward, MD, a geriatrician and clinical lead physician for Kaiser Permanente.
“We need to become activists in promoting healthful behaviors and try our best
to remain active and healthy the rest of our lives.”
How to do it? Dr. Hayward recommends these 10
easy health tips for seniors to help baby boomers live longer and thrive:
- Quit smoking. Take this critical
step to improve your health and combat aging. Smoking kills by causing cancer,
strokes and heart failure. Smoking leads to erectile dysfunction in men due to
atherosclerosis and to excessive wrinkling by attacking skin elasticity. Many
resources are available to help you quit.
- Keep active. Do something to keep fit each day—something
you enjoy that maintains strength, balance and flexibility and promotes
cardiovascular health. Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight,
prevent or control illness, sleep better, reduce stress, avoid falls and look
and feel better, too.
- Eat well. Combined with physical activity, eating
nutritious foods in the right amounts can help keep you healthy. Many illnesses,
such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and
osteoporosis, can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements can help women prevent osteoporosis.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight increases your risk
for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Use the Kaiser Permanente
BMI (body mass index) calculator to find out what you should weigh for your
height. Get to your healthy weight and stay there by eating right and keeping
active. Replace sugary drinks with water—water is calorie free!
- Prevent falls. We become vulnerable to falls as we age.
Prevent falls and injury by removing loose carpet or throw rugs. Keep paths
clear of electrical cords and clutter, and use night-lights in hallways and
bathrooms. Did you know that people who walk barefoot fall more frequently? Wear
shoes with good support to reduce the risk of falling.
- Stay up-to-date on immunizations and other health
screenings. By age 50, women should begin mammography screening for
breast cancer. Men can be checked for prostate cancer. Many preventive
screenings are available. Those who are new to Medicare are entitled to a
“Welcome to Medicare” visit and all Medicare members to an annual wellness
visit. Use these visits to discuss which preventative screenings and
vaccinations are due.
- Prevent skin cancer. As we age, our skin grows thinner; it
becomes drier and less elastic. Wrinkles appear, and cuts and bruises take
longer to heal. Be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Too much sun and
ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.
- Get regular dental, vision and hearing checkups. Your teeth
and gums will last a lifetime if you care for them properly—that means daily
brushing and flossing and getting regular dental checkups. By age 50, most
people notice changes to their vision, including a gradual decline in the
ability to see small print or focus on close objects. Common eye problems that
can impair vision include cataracts and glaucoma. Hearing loss occurs commonly
with aging, often due to exposure to loud noise.
- Manage stress. Try exercise or relaxation
techniques—perhaps meditation or yoga—as a means of coping. Make time for
friends and social contacts and fun. Successful coping can affect our health and
how we feel. Learn the role of positive thinking.
- Fan the flame. When it comes to sexual intimacy and aging,
age is no reason to limit your sexual enjoyment. Learn about physical changes
that come with aging and get suggestions to help you adjust to them, if