There’s no real “Fountain of Youth,” however, the Center for Aging and Population Health at the University of Pittsburgh and the Consumer Reports Health Rating Center offer 10 recommendations for healthy aging:
1. Lower your blood pressure. The ideal systolic pressure, (top number) is below 120 mm of mercury, and optimal diastolic, (lower number) is less than 80 mm of mercury. More than 70 percent of people age 60 and older have hypertension, but lifestyle changes and medication can help.
2. Stop smoking. Even people who quit in their 70s or older can benefit.
3. Participate in cancer screening. The most effective tests available, according to the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, are colon cancer screenings for adults age 50 to 70, breast cancer screenings for women 50 to 74, and cervical cancer screenings for women 21 to 65. Note that recommendations often differ with age and risk factors. Discuss which cancer screenings are right for you with your doctor.
4. Get immunized regularly. Everyone over the age of 50 should talk with their doctor about when to get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia and shingles. Also ask if you need to have the following vaccination for:
• Hepatitis A and B
• MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
• Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
• Varicella (chicken pox).
5. Reduce blood glucose. Cut your risk of type 2 diabetes by lowering your fasting blood glucose level to below 100 mg/dl with weight loss and increased physical activity.
6. Lower LDL cholesterol. Aim for an LDL (bad) cholesterol level below 100 mg/dl by being physically active, eating healthily, maintaining normal weight, and if prescribed by your doctor, taking medication.
7. Be physically active. Everyone can do something to improve their activity at any age, but check with your doctor first before starting a new physical activity routine.
8. Maintain healthy bones, joints, and muscles. You can delay or prevent conditions that damage them by doing strength-training exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.
9. Cultivate social contacts. Staying connected to friends, family and your community helps you stay emotionally, physically and cognitively healthy.
10. Combat depression. Being consistently depressed is not a normal part of life at any age. As always, if you have concerns, talk with your doctor. Fatigue, depression, falls, and memory lapses could be triggered by a treatable problem, so don’t automatically chalk them up to getting older.
Reprinted from “Your County Connection,” the official newsletter of the Wood County Committee on Aging.