Taking a proactive approach to your health as you age will help you to maintain your functions and aid in your well-being as you get older. Experiencing healthy ageing is possible. Taking opportunities to focus on your physical health, mental health and social health are no less important as you get older.
Health screening becomes increasingly important for ageing Australians. There are many diagnostic tests and preventative screening tools available for early detection of diseases and health conditions. Discuss the recommended screening tools with your G.P. at your next visit. Some of the tests that are available include but are not limited to the following:
- Skin checks
- Dental check-ups
- Pap-smears for all women
- Regular faecal occult blood test
- Frequent breast checks for all women
- Monitoring blood pressure
- Bone mineral density scan for ageing Australians
- Regular prostate checks for men
- Blood Glucose tests to screen for Type 2 Diabetes
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a simple and achievable way to be proactive in the prevention of long-term health problems.
- Eating a healthy diet by consuming foods that are full of wholegrains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats is a very good start. Avoid saturated fats, sugar, and limit your alcohol consumption.
Maintain a healthy body weight to reduce your risk of developing health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. This can be achieved by a healthy eating plan and frequent exercise.
- It is widely recognised that smoking is a health risk, and the cessation of smoking at anytime in your life will be beneficial to your health.
- The effects of the sun are everlasting and can be life threatening. Always protect your skin and your eyes when you are outdoors. Remember your hat, clothes, sunscreen and sunglasses when heading outside.
It is recommended that you regularly have a blood test to monitor your total cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Also, check your blood pressure regularly and listen to your doctor’s advice.
I have a question for you? When was the last time you were screened for Type II Diabetes?
If fatty deposits build up in your blood vessels, they can become blocked. Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in Australia. You can reduce the risk of developing Cardiovascular disease by having regular screening, reducing intakes of saturated fats, maintaining a healthy eating plan, and getting regular exercise.
To stay healthy, regular exercise is a must. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, some cancers, stroke and hypertension. Among many other benefits, exercise is also good for our bones. Weight bearing exercise has proven to aid bone health. Exercise is also good for our mental health and may help to reduce the risks of Dementia. Exercise makes us feel good.
If you have pre-existing health conditions and are concerned about exercising, many gyms have qualified exercise physiologists that can design programs specifically to meet your needs and goals.
Some people believe that Dementia is a natural part of ageing, however it is a progressive disease that affects both younger and older people. It has both high morbidity and mortality rates in Australia.
There are some steps that you can take to reduce the risk factors for dementia. Looking after our heart health from early on in life is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing certain forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s in later years.
It is also important to stay mentally active and social. Again, remember that regular exercise has many health benefits too.
If you have any concerns regarding your memory, changes in your behaviour or in your thinking, it is important to arrange a check-up with your G.P.
There is an organisation called “Dementia Australia.” They are advocates for people living with dementia. They provide support and education to their families as well. For more information regarding dementia risk reduction, you can contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
There are some steps that you can take in the aim to keep yourself in a healthy mental state:
- Maintain relationships with friends, family and the community. If you are struggling to meet people, there are often community groups that offer outings and meetings in your area.
- Again, keeping active helps to reduce the risk of developing depression or anxiety. Exercise is also another way to be social whether it is a lawn bowls club, or a yoga class.
- Volunteering or helping someone no matter how small, can also increase mental health and social well-being.
- If you’ve always participated in your faith and attended church but no longer find it easy to get there, consider speaking to your community and see if someone can take you. Keeping involved in activities that you’ve always participated in can help with your well-being.
Last but not least, if you are finding it challenging to cope with everyday life, please seek help. Talk with your G.P., family or friends. In any case, you can get in contact with Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 for immediate support.
Many older Australians suffer from hearing loss. As hearing difficulties can affect your relationships and self-worth, acting early and recognising the signs of hearing loss, can minimise these effects.
- Do you find it difficult to understand what people are saying when there is background noise?
- Do you hear words incorrectly and often ask for others to repeat themselves?
- Do you hear surrounding sounds such as a knock at the door or your telephone ringing?
If you have any of these signs or think that you might have some hearing loss, book an appointment with an audiologist at your local hearing centre, and have your hearing tested.
Older Australians are susceptible to cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. They are also more likely to need reading or vision correction glasses.
Having regular check-ups at the optometrist will ensure that your vision glasses are adequate. Also, if you have experienced changes in your vision, discuss this with your G.P. They will refer you to an Ophthalmologist for further investigations if required.
The risk of falls increases with vision impairment as you get older. Taking your time, and using your walking and vision aids will help to reduce the risk of falling. Also, removing clutter and tripping hazards such as floor rugs can help.
Remember that vision impairment does not mean loss of independence. Vision Australia can provide advice and training on the use of equipment and vision aids. You can contact them on 1300 84 74 66.
It is not uncommon to experience difficulties with sleeping. Getting enough sleep is important for your health. If you are experiencing issues with your sleeping, there are often causes that can be treated or resolved. For example, you might be waking regularly to go the bathroom throughout the evening. If this is the case, your G.P. will recommend a continence nurse to provide you with support and education that will help you in getting back on track with your sleeping. There are also sleep clinics available that can help you to overcome or manage your sleep disturbances.
Whatever the case is, It is important for your health to discuss any concerns that you may have regarding sleeping, with your G.P.