I hope you enjoy this wonderfully informative article, written by Gayle Turim, that offers 10 ways to keep aging at bay.
Please note that I have removed all of the graphics in order to maximize Braille and screen-reader compatibility for the blind and low vision.
At the end of this BLOG post, you will find a link to the original article complete with photos and links to more helpful health related resources.
10 Ways to Keep Aging at Bay
Tips for managing common problems related to aging â€” from vision loss and hearing difficulties to bone and joint pain
By Gayle Turim
Managing Health Well Into Old Age
Remember when you got your first gray hair or noticed that first little crinkle around your eye? It wasn’t a milestone marked with the same enthusiasm as, say, losing your first baby tooth. But whether we like it or not, our bodies show signs of aging as we march through our 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. Some difficulties (such as bone-density loss or substantial hearing impairment) are more serious than others (like minor memory lapses). Still, almost all are, to some degree, correctable. Read on to find out how you can successfully manage common age-related health issues â€” and enjoy a longer, healthier life
WEIGHT TRAINING FOR STRONGER BONES
Bone-density loss can begin as early as your 20s, when calcium and phosphate, which help form bones in childhood, can start to be reabsorbed by the body. Without preventive measures, the reabsorption process speeds up after midlife, creating fragile, more easily fractured bones. “A simple weight-bearing exercise like walking can slow the rate of bone-mineral loss,” says James D. Lolis, MD, associate chief of geriatrics at North Shoreâ€“Long Island Jewish Health System in New York. “Even the most frail person can benefit from a personalized regimen,” whether it’s walking, yoga, or using free weights. Getting enough vitamin D and calcium is also crucial, he adds, and for a serious problem, bone-building medications are another good option.
BETTER SLEEP, BETTER DAYS
If your bed doubles as a comfy place to snack, read, and watch TV, it can begin to impact your sleep, causing daytime fatigue as your natural sleep cycles change with age, says Dr. Lolis. “Keep your bedroom primarily for sleep,” he recommends. That way you will associate your bed with slumber and not with more lively activities that could interfere with relaxing. It also helps counter the fact that as you get older, you spend less time in energy-restoring deep sleep, and you may have a harder time falling back to sleep if you wake up too early. “It also helps to avoid sweets, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and heavy meals at night,” Dr. Lolis says, “and get enough exercise each day.” Another tip: Go outside in the natural light each afternoon, to enhance your body’s natural sleep rhythms.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE SCALE
If you gain weight more easily now than you did years ago, it’s probably because, like most people, you tend to do less calorie-burning exercise, says Dr. Lolis. Your lean muscle mass then decreases â€” a process also exacerbated by age â€” and when your body has less muscle, it burns calories less efficiently. You’ll need to cut calories and increase your activity levels to reach the weight you want. Make low-calorie fresh fruits and vegetables more central to your diet, and consider a fiber-rich but fairly low-calorie supplement like Metamucil or Benefiber to feel more sated. (If your weight gain is dramatic and you’re not overeating, have your thyroid function checked.)
CONTROL URINARY FREQUENCY
Feeling like you “gotta go” too often is quite common in men in their 50s and beyond, and in women beginning in their 40s. Urinary urge incontinence and overactive bladder were once problems rarely discussed in public. Recently, the stigma has declined with the airing of none-too-subtle TV commercials touting various anticholinergic (spasm-reducing) drugs, which have provided relief for many. Talk to your doctor and be sure to rule out any serious underlying causes of urinary issues, like an infection or tumor, before starting one of the medications. Behavioral treatments like doing Kegel exercises for women, measuring and carefully timing your fluid intake, and keeping toilet visits on a set schedule can also help.
HAIR LOSS: TRULY TREATABLE
Whether you’re male or female, if your hair is thinning “don’t simply accept it as part of aging,” stresses Jeffrey Ellis, MD, FAAD, director of dermatological surgery at North Shoreâ€“Long Island Jewish Health System in New York. “Treatments like minoxidil [Rogaine] and finasteride [Propecia] work better at keeping hair loss from getting worse rather than reversing what’s already happened, so it’s important to start [treating the problem] at the first signs.” Hair loss in older men and women is often caused by androgenic alopecia, a condition related to hormonal decreases, but you need to rule out other causes. That’s another reason to see your doctor as soon as you notice more strands than usual on your comb.
SAVE YOUR SKIN
Almost inevitably, your skin will naturally grow dryer and thinner over time. And sun exposure only hastens the process, because it damages collagen, a key protein that gives strength and structure to the skin. The answer: Slather on protection. “I think daily moisturizers that include sunscreen are especially effective,” says Dr. Ellis, “because sometimes people don’t remember to apply sunscreen at all, or don’t put on enough.” For those (often men) who may not enjoy wearing face cream, Dr. Ellis recommends keeping a hat by the door for every trip outside. Along with sun protection, add supplements and foods that supply enough crucial vitamin D, he adds, “because avoiding the sun or always wearing sunscreen means you won’t get enough of this vital nutrient from sunlight.”Â
IT’S ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE…
So, where are your keys, anyway? Though frustrating, such momentary memory lapses are a relatively minor age-related inconvenience. Recent research done by neuroscientists at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, however, suggests that getting in shape physically may help your brain fight such blanks. Using advanced MRI techniques, they found that regions of the brain linked to decision-making and focus were much stronger in older people who were physically fit than those who weren’t. You can fight memory lapses with food too: The antioxidants in walnuts and berries, for instance, can help boost mental acuity by battling free-radical compounds that damage brain cells, according to Tufts University nutrition researcher James Joseph, PhD.Â
RELIEVING ACHY JOINTS
Oh, my achingâ€¦you fill in the blank. Whether your back, fingers, or knees are affected, joint pain usually increases with wear and tear. As long as the pain is mild and there’s no redness or pronounced inflammation, the commonly recommended treatments include mild stretching and exercise, over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen, weight loss if you’re overweight, warm showers, and cold packs or heating pads (whichever feels better). A landmark National Institutes of Health study of the dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin, widely touted as rebuilders of cartilage, showed that in high-quality form, they may also help to reduce moderate-to-severe knee pain.Â
SOLVING THE “CAN’T READ THE MENU” PROBLEM
If you’re over 40, you may already be noticing that you can’t always focus too clearly on objects close to you. This is a natural symptom of aging called presbyopia, and it’s caused by decreased flexibility in your eye’s lens and the muscle fibers around it. Luckily, there are a multitude of corrective options. Eyeglass wearers may choose progressive addition lenses (PALs), which seamlessly provide correction for distance, intermediate, and near vision. Contact-lens wearers might prefer monovision: One lens is corrected for distance and the other for near vision. “It takes some getting used to, but can have terrific results,” says ophthalmologist Jodi Abramson, MD, medical director of Laser and Corneal Surgery Associates in White Plains, New York. And for permanent presbyopia correction, surgical choices include LASIK and CK (conductive keratoplasty) procedures, performed with lasers and radio waves, respectively.Â
WHAT DID YOU SAY AGAIN?
Age-related hearing loss â€” an extremely common issue â€” remains “very emotional” for many people, says Deborah Senzer, Au.D., CCC-A, clinical coordinator of audiology at Adelphi University’s Hy Weinberg Center for Communication Disorders in New York. If you’re a baby boomer, the good news is you’re likely to be more comfortable with technology and more accepting of hearing aids, she says. Some devices are so tiny they’re barely visible; just as important, they can be programmed to counteract specific kinds of hearing loss. Universities across the country have audiology clinics that prescribe and fit hearing aids, often offering the most reasonable prices around. Just “don’t get hearing aids by mail order,” even if they’re inexpensive, advises Dr. Senzer. “They can’t be properly customized that way.”Â