I have worked with seniors for a long time now, managing everything from finances to health concerns, and I have witnessed firsthand the challenges wrought by the aging process. From walkers to medications, aging and its related health challenges can be a difficult adjustment for all of us. But we can make the process easier by following some straightforward principles. Here are my top four:
An Ounce of Prevention
We may be tempted to disregard preventive health care. After all, health screenings and other exams are time consuming, and we may feel just fine.
But preventive care can help us avoid some health conditions and detect others before they do damage. And with health care providers offering everything from free or low-cost flu shots to mammograms, we can help maintain our health without hurting our budget.
Respect Our Medications
Medicines are powerful tools, but taken incorrectly, they can harm us. That is why it is important to be educated about our medications. We should understand how they can interact with one another and with certain foods. We should take them at the times they are prescribed and in the way they are prescribed.
I recommend adopting a system for taking medications to eliminate the possibility of confusion. You can use pill boxes, an alarm as a reminder, or create a chart that you check off daily. I also recommend that we have one primary doctor who knows all our medications. The Food and Drug Administration offers a free record-keeping chart for the medications you take that you can then show to your doctor or pharmacist.
Speaking of Doctors …
Many seniors do not want to talk about their health concerns. It’s understandable. We may feel embarrassed about bringing up, say, urinary problems, but delaying the talk can hurt us even more. Even the symptoms that we deem trivial are issues we should discuss with our doctor since they may point to a larger problem.
A sense of pride or a desire not to be a bother may also prevent us from asking questions when we don’t understand something the doctor has said. I recommend letting go of your pride and to be a bother. Our health is more important.
I think a lack of acceptance may be one of our biggest stumbling blocks as we age. A lot of us just don’t want to admit that we need a hearing aid or dentures or a walker or a medical alert device. We may feel as though we are losing our independence, and we may feel a sense of shame that we have to rely on these items.
Yet these items can actually help us maintain our independence. They can provide mobility, allow us to stay in our home, and prevent us from becoming isolated. Rather than neglect these tools, we can practice acceptance and allow them to help us live more comfortably and fully than we could without them.
As we age, we may have to grapple with health conditions that are unavoidable. But by shifting our perspective and implementing practical strategies, we can help avoid making these conditions worse and instead enjoy our senior years that much more.