Every June, Men’s Health Month is celebrated across the country as a way to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men. I’m thrilled by any opportunity to offer patients more information when it comes to their health, so that they are empowered to make the best decisions possible.
Taking ownership of one’s health care, which is something strongly encouraged at Hebrew SeniorLife, relies greatly on patient education. In honor of Men’s Health Month, I’m highlighting three health issues older men frequently face – and what they can to do prevent them.
With summer upon us, we tend to hear a great deal about healthy eating and getting in tip-top shape. There is no shortage of diets, drinks and pills being marketed, all promising slim waistlines for the summer season. But the truth is – healthy eating isn’t limited to a particular time of year. It’s a lifestyle and one that is incredibly important as we age.
Hearing loss often occurs with age. However, research has revealed that hearing loss can actually be accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood-glucose levels are not being controlled with medication and diet.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone required to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy needed for daily life. People with diabetes have too much glucose, a form of sugar, in their blood. More than half of the 16 million Americans living with diabetes are over the age of 60.
We often hear about the importance of losing weight – and the struggles that come along with it. The truth, however, is that maintaining a healthy weight can be just as challenging. Once you reach an ideal weight, seniors should still evaluate food choices and commit to exercising regularly. It’s truly about embracing an overall healthy lifestyle.
This lifestyle is rewarded with significant health benefits including lowering your risk for certain conditions including diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Fitness can be intimidating to many seniors. What’s safe? What’s effective? Where’s a good place to begin? The good news is you don’t need fancy gym equipment or a high-impact aerobics class to complete quality exercise that’s beneficial to your health. All you need is motivation and your own two feet.
Walking regularly is one of the safest and most effective forms of exercise available. You can proceed at your own pace and reap the benefits – including a healthier heart, lower stress and higher energy levels.
Aging can be associated with limitations and a loss of independence. That’s why I’m thrilled to witness an empowering movement in senior health care in which patients play more active roles to improve medical conditions and truly take control of their own destinies.
Senior health care doesn’t have to be a matter of strictly following doctor’s orders. In fact, when patients set specific goals, overcome obstacles and meet objectives, it can be a powerful experience, beneficial to both their confidence and health.
By taking ownership of one’s health care, whether it’s learning to cope with a medical condition or trying new strategies to improve one, patients become the CEO of their care, invested and committed to the most important business – their health.
As an optometrist at Hebrew SeniorLife, many of the eye problems that I treat in my patients are age-related. It is not uncommon for eyes to weaken as we age. One of those ways in which age can impact eyesight is through the onset of cataracts. Cataracts are one of the most commonly diagnosed eye disorders among older adults. In fact, by age 75—about 70 percent of people will have had cataracts.
What are cataracts?
A cataract occurs when the normally transparent lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opaque, limiting vision. Cataracts tend to develop slowly, making it difficult to detect a change. In some cases, a cataract doesn’t impair vision or affect daily life enough to warrant surgical intervention.
If you’ve been following the blog, you may recall that last week I shared the story of Alvin Nigrosh, who underwent physical rehabilitation at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRC) after receiving surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to remove blood clots in his legs. Alvin stayed at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center until he was able to get back on his feet again.
Have you noticed any changes in vision? As we age, it’s not uncommon for eyesight to become impaired. Glacuoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and diabetic retinopathy are the most common eye disorders experienced by seniors. I see my fair share of patients with these conditions in my role as optometrist at Hebrew SeniorLife and, while eye problems are irritating for anyone, they are particularly frustrating for seniors as impairment hinders independence.
Here is more information about the commonly developed eye conditions among older adults—so you’ll be knowledgable about the condition and proactive about speaking with your physician, should the need arise.
As a staff geriatrician for Hebrew SeniorLife, I often tell my patients: “You’ve got to work on lowering your cholesterol number.” High cholesterol levels are widespread because we absorb cholesterol from certain foods we eat. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, cholesterol is broken down into LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). While LDL can cause plaque buildup on artery walls, HDL helps reduce plaque. LDL can lead to cardiovascular problems and put you at risk for stroke and heart disease.