Tips for healthy aging

Thursday, April 13, 2017 7:30AM

Dr. Michael Lindberg is a new physician at Monadnock Community Hospital. We asked him to answer a series of questions that could help our aging population.

As we age, are there specific health problems to look out for? What should I be aware of?

Everyone ages differently. How we age is dependent on our personal habits (such as smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise patterns, family and social connections, etc.), our underlying health conditions and, to a degree, on our genetics. Our hearts, lungs, kidneys, immune system, vision, and other systems all change as we age, but to varying degrees and rates between individuals. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial to slow the impact of changes associated with aging.

I want to be able to continue living alone as I age, but want to make sure I’m being safe. What are some things I can do to accomplish this?

· Maintain social and family connections. You will need and benefit from those supports. Be prepared to ask for help from those you trust and love.

· Work with your physician to prevent and identify debilities that can impact your independence.

Work with your physician on your medications to identify the benefits, risk and potential interaction that might impact your independence. Don’t stop a medication without discussing with your physician.

Use other resources to keep your hope adapted to your needs. Grab bars, rails, chair lifts, ramps, walk-in tubs/ showers and other supporting equipment often help. Avoid clutter, loose wires, loose carpets and other obstructing items in the hope that can lead to a fall. A home assessment my visiting nursing programs can help identify risks and identify preventive approaches.

If I’m on multiple medications, what are some tips on safely handling them?

Take your medications as prescribed by your physician

Bring all your medications to every office visit so they can be reviewed by your physician

· Don’t add over the counter medications to your prescription medications without first discussing with your physicians.

· Ask your pharmacist to review your medication profile for potential adverse interactions

If you have trouble remembering when and how often to take your medications, use “pill boxes filled with your medications for the day of the week and time.

Share a list of your medications with your family and/or health care proxy. If you have a problem and end up in the emergency department or hospital they can share that list.

How does my need for exercise change as I get older? What’s the best way for people to exercise as they get older?

Start young and continue a life-long history of exercise.

Discuss a plan for exercise with your physician. Your physician can refer you to a program that will tailor exercise to your current health and physical state and to your chronic illnesses. Once such program locally is called “Exercise is Medicine.”

What are the early warning signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s? What’s the difference?

Alzheimer’s is one of many types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. The rate of occurrence increases as we age. There is considerable research ongoing to look for a blood test or brain scan that can early- on predict Alzheimer’s. So far no way to prevent dementia has been identified, but, again, considerable research is ongoing. If you, a family member or a friend feel you are having increasing memory problems, please see your physician. Your physician can perform a screening evaluation for dementia and look for other conditions, often reversible, that mimic early dementia and cause memory compromise. If you are found to have early dementia, early diagnosis allows time to consider mediation options to possibly slow progression of the disease and to make plans for addressing concerns as the disease progresses.