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.
Many studies indicate that people with untreated hearing loss may be at an increased risk of depression. Further, when these people use hearing aids, they experience significant improvements in quality of life and a decrease in depressive symptoms. A study published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics examined the effects of hearing aids on cognitive function and depressive signs in people 65 and older. Researchers found that after three months of using a hearing aid, all patients showed significant improvement in their psychosocial and cognitive conditions.
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.
It’s no secret that seniors are often taking more than one prescription medication. As we age, we are more likely to develop chronic illnesses – and frequently need medication to lead healthy and active lives. However, medications in older adults come with safety concerns, especially when multiple prescriptions are involved. There are more chances for overdoses, under-doses and dangerous side effects.
Every year, nearly 1.5 million fractures are attributed to osteoporosis. But what causes bone disease and how can you protect yourself from it?
These are important questions – ones that scientists at the Musculoskeletal Research Center in Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research have devoted their careers to, as well as identifying all health risks associated with bone disease. While we know osteoporosis occurs when bodies lose bone or make too little of it, what causes bones to fracture more easily with age is still not completely understood.
Use it or lose it. That’s the basic philosophy behind maintaining cognitive abilities later in life. For busy adults, this can be easy enough. Days are filled juggling work, appointments and household chores, providing plenty of stimulation to keep cognitive thinking skills sharp. I, however, often see seniors adjusting to a slower daily pace and it can take more effort to create opportunities to exercise these skills regularly. According to a major study completed by the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, it is worth that extra effort.
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.
I’m always impressed by seniors in our community and their commitment to healthy living. As Orchard Cove’s Vitalize360 coach, I regularly have the opportunity to help residents set and work on personal goals. It’s exciting to witness an 86-year-old woman recover from a hip fracture and commit to improve her physical fitness by taking on new activities such as swimming and Zumba. Sometimes, the goals are not related to fitness. I’ve watched watch a man revitalize his work as an artist at the age of 79 and discover new passions, such as singing in our choral group.
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.