Senior Health Concerns--Are You at Risk?
By Kent Elliott
Have you entered retirement with a sense of excitement? Or have you started this stage of life with a sense of dread about aging? For many seniors, the way you feel about aging is likely a combination of the two. Retirement certainly comes with some perks, but it’s also normal to feel worried about your health as a senior. If these concerns sound familiar, it’s good to know you’re not alone - and that you can find resources that help.
Mental Health Concerns
Some of us have dealt with mental health concerns for years, while for others, it’s something that creeps in for the first time later in life. Everyone encounters stress. As a senior, common stressors may come from financial issues, relationships, or worry about your health. One way to address some of these concerns is to shift the way you think about aging. The Huffington Post explains how, statistically, more people become happier as they get older. Those who do can attribute their happiness to how they approach aging. They stay active, they stay in touch with friends, and they find pursuits that are meaningful.
Anyone can benefit from approaching aging this way, but for some people, a positive approach isn’t enough to ward off mental health problems. If you have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, don’t assume that poor mental health is a natural part of aging. These symptoms are serious, but you can feel better with the help of a mental health professional.
The good news is that you can get these services through Medicare Part B. In addition to being able to get a depression screening with your regular doctor, you can also get treatments like counseling and psychiatric care. These issues can be difficult to face, but there’s absolutely no reason not to get care that can help you feel like yourself again.
Along with mental health, the other mental issue many seniors worry about is cognitive decline. The thought of experiencing cognitive decline is certainly scary, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. According to Kaiser Health News, scientists have discovered that there are three primary actions you can take to prevent cognitive decline: physical activity, keeping your brain active through cognitive training, and controlling high blood pressure.
If cognitive function is something you’re concerned about, start by checking in with your doctor to make sure you have a healthy blood pressure and for advice on getting more active (if you don’t already have an exercise routine). Keeping your brain active is easy enough to do on your own through brain training apps. And as useful as these high tech solutions are, one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp is to continue learning new things.
Physical changes are a natural part of aging that we can’t avoid entirely. The most common physical ailments seniors face include joint and bone health, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. The risk of developing these conditions is concerning, yet while genetics and lifestyle factors play a role in the onset of these issues, it’s never too late to make changes that improve your odds. For instance, according to a recent article in Natural Awakenings, Support Your Immune System, you can boost your immune system by consuming more vitamin C, garlic, and mushrooms.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, one of the best solutions for preventing (and even reversing) many of these issues is exercise. One example is how, even though joint pain and arthritis can make exercise feel like a challenge, being active can actually relieve a lot of joint pain. And while exercise is the best medicine in many ways, there are other changes you can make to ease these issues, too, some of which may be surprising. For example, The Cleveland Clinic explains how quitting habits like smoking and drinking sodas can improve joint health.
We know how challenging these issues can be, not to mention the challenge of making changes to prevent them. However, this is your chance to look at aging as an opportunity, to try new things and make the most of every experience. Your health isn’t written in stone, and even a few small changes can make a world of a difference.
Kent Elliot is a retired architect with a passion for dogs, DIY, and universal design. After a stroke left him with mobility issues, he thought he would need to move out of his home and into an assisted living community. But, using his experience as an architect and with a little creativity, he was able to successfully remodel his family home instead. This led him to creating Athomeaging.info as a resource for others who are looking to do the same.
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