The Time to Plan and Act is Now
Aging in organisms, starting at the cellular level, can be characterized by the declining ability to respond to stress, increasing homeostatic imbalance and increased risk of disease eventually ending in death.
Indeed, old age is not an unavoidable property of life. Instead, it is the result of genetic program.
We are all aware that as our body matures, we simply begin to wear out. But remember, wellness is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, it is "a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing."
There are numerous activities we can participate in to help reduce many of the diseases, illnesses, and other problems associated with old age.
In all countries, and in developing countries in particular, measures to help older people remain healthy and active are a necessity, not a luxury.
Some facts about aging
- In 2000, there were 600 million people 60 and over; there will be 1.2 billion by 2025 and 2 billion by 2050.
- Today, about two-thirds of all older people are living in the developing world; by 2025, it will be 75%.
- In the developing world, 80+ is the fastest growing population group.
- women outlive men in virtually all societies; consequently in very old age, the ratio of women/men is 2:1.
As the average human life expectancy has increased, so too has the impact of age-related diseases and illnesses, such as
and vision loss.
And as we mature, special attention needs to be paid to our general fitness level in areas such as
Keeping Your Health
Most major diseases and illness associated with aging can be prevented by the things you do today and continue throughout your life.
- Don't smoke or use tobacco: More preventable illnesses are caused by tobacco than anything else with one out of every 6 deaths in the United states being blamed on smoking.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink: This means no more than 2 drinks a day for men, and 1 drink a day for women. Too much alcohol can damage the liver and contribute to some cancers, such as throat and liver cancer.
- Eat right: Follow healthy nutrition eating guidelines eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Heart disease, some cancers, stroke, diabetes and damage to your arteries can be linked to what you eat.
- Lose weight if your overweight: Carrying too much weight increases your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, gallbladder disease and arthritis in weight-bearing joints. A high-fiber, low-fat diet and regular exercise can help you lose weight gradually and keep it off.
- Exercise: Exercise can prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and possibly, colon cancer, stroke and back injury. You'll also feel better.
- Don't sunbathe or use tanning booths: Sun exposure is linked to skin cancer, which is the most common type of skin cancer. It's best to stay out of the sun altogether or wear protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen.
- Control your cholesterol level: Keeping your cholesterol level down by eating right and regular exercise does have direct health benefits.
- Control high blood pressure: High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Lose weight, exercise, eat less sodium, drink less alcohol, don't smoke and take prescribed medicine to control your blood pressure>,/li>
- Keep shots up to date: tetanus-diptheria booster every 10 years and flu shots every year are a good start. check with your doctor for any additional shots you may need.
- Mammograms and Pap smears: Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death for women and cancer of the cervix can be detected by regular Pap smears. Pap smears are recommended every three years and after age 50 mammograms are recommended every 1 to 2 years.
- Cancer screenings and yearly physicals: Colo rectal and prostrate cancer screening is usually recommended for adults over 50 and yearly health screenings are replacing the yearly physical.
Obviously, aging does present challenges and none of us are going to make it out alive. But you might be able to feel as good as you used to (or even better) by picking up a few good health habits, such as adding some activity to your daily life and eating more fruit and vegetables in your diet.
Physical activity makes for stronger bones and muscle support which can give you better balance preventing falls, and if you do fall, strong bones are less likely to break, and a good healthy diet will provide your body with the proper nutrients it needs.
When your muscles are strong, activities like getting out of a chair or holding a door open are much easier.
Remember, always talk with your doctor before starting any new physical activity or exercise program, and always start at a slow pace building up to prevent muscle soreness.
Maturing and aging are a natural course of life which we will all experience. By taking proper care of our bodies we can have a better quality of life in our older years.
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