As we women get older, it becomes even more important to maintain a healthful lifestyle. We can become more vulnerable to infections from the air, food and other sources and may need more medications and devices to remain in good health.
Regular screening for some illnesses is recommended and staying active is crucial to sustaining an independent way of life.
There are many things we can do to remain strong and resilient as we age — these are just a few of the worthwhile steps we can take:
BE CAREFUL ABOUT FOOD SAFETY
Seniors are more likely to become seriously ill from foodborne infections because of a lower immune system response and other factors, so it’s to your benefit to stay vigilant about food safety.
Choose lower-risk foods and recipes to eat at home when possible, including pasteurized milk and eggs, previously cooked or canned seafood and reheated hot dogs and deli meats. Cook all foods to the recommended temperature and don’t eat raw dough unless it’s intended to be consumed before baking.
KEEP YOUR DOCTOR CURRENT ABOUT YOUR MEDICATION
Tell your primary care physician about all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking, including herbal and nutritional supplements.
If it’s getting harder to keep up with the number of different meds you’re taking, ask if there are lifestyle or other changes you can make to reduce or eliminate your need for some. Speak up if you feel like some medications aren’t working as well as before; aging can change how they affect you or increase the odds of a negative interaction.
BE ALERT TO SIGNS OF OSTEOPOROSIS
Women older than 50 have a higher risk of osteoporosis, particularly if they smoke, have low body weight or have taken certain medications for a long time.
Regularly getting weight-bearing exercise and getting at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day can reduce your risk.
If you’re diagnosed with osteoporosis work with your health care providers on managing it with medications while staying as active as possible.
FOLLOW HEALTH SCREENING RECOMMENDATIONS
Talk with your doctor about how often you should be screened for breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and other common illnesses, because recommendations can vary based on age and risk level.
For example, women older than 55 of average risk can switch to getting mammograms every other year under the American Cancer Society’s guidelines, and DEXA scans for osteoporosis usually aren’t recommended more often than every other year.
Sometimes the science is not clear, so find out what your doctor recommends in your case.
HAVE FUN WHILE YOU EXERCISE
Seniors should remain active throughout their lives, getting 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week and strength training at least two days per week if they’re able.
But that’s harder for anyone to do when it feels like a chore, so choose activities you enjoy, whether it’s running, hiking, golfing without a cart, heavy yard work or water aerobics.