7 Practical tips for Aging Well
Dr. Jennifer Arnouville, MCNT-Fort Worth Clinic, LIVING WELL Magazine (formerly SENIOR Magazine)
As a geriatrician, I am often asked what recommendations I have about healthy aging. There is no obvious magic to this, but I have observed commonalities among my patients who are aging well.
Be active. Regular physical activity remains important, no matter one’s age. In seniors, it becomes especially important for bone health, energy level, and perhaps most importantly, maintaining independence.
Eat well. Eating a balanced diet consisting of lean meats, lots of water, and plenty of green vegetables and whole grains benefits every part of the body.
Sleep well and naturally. Many seniors do not need eight hours of sleep every night. More important, sleep should be good quality, so one feels rested the following day. This is best done without sleep medications, which come with many potential side effects. Seniors should avoid over-the-counter sleep aids, which can cause excess sedation, increase fall risk, and even affect memory.
Be involved. Humans are social creatures, and we all have a need to interact with others. Getting involved through participation in church, volunteer work, or the local senior center are all excellent ways to stay engaged in the community, and are great sources of social support.
Only take medications that you must. Medications should be periodically reviewed with one’s physician to determine what is still necessary. Of course, many patients take medications which are crucial in helping them manage serious illnesses. But many take medications which may have more risk than benefit.
Only take supplements that you must. Many patients taking natural supplements do not have strong evidence to justify taking them. Many of these can cause side effects, and many interact with prescription medications. A daily multivitamin, fiber, calcium, and vitamin D are probably the supplements which are the safest and most beneficial, but even these should first be discussed with a physician if one has preexisting medical problems.
Have a physician you trust. Primary care physicians can assist patients with staying as healthy as possible, and preventing chronic diseases from getting worse over time. Patients should have a physician who they feel is available, caring, and engaged during appointments.
Dr. Jennifer T. Arnouville specializes in family medicine and geriatrics and is one of the doctors at MCNT-Fort Worth Clinic. She may be reached at 817-336-7191.