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Health Tips for Seniors

  • Helping Your Aging Parents Stay Well

  • Are you caring for a aging parent? Minerva Navarro, M.D.Opens new window, a geriatric medicine doctor at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Mountain View CenterOpens new window, gives her top five tips on keeping seniors healthy. Pass these tips along to your parents:

    1. Tell your doctor about any medications or supplements you're taking. One out of five hospital admissions for elderly patients is related to an adverse drug reaction, Dr. Navarro says. Seniors are more prone to adverse drug interactions or negative effects of taking too many medications. You may not think of over-the-counter and herbal supplements as medications, but they can cause adverse effects, too—especially due to a negative interaction with another supplement or over-the-counter or prescription medication.
    2. Exercise. You may think that being older means being less active, but exercise is still incredibly beneficial to health, Dr. Navarro says. It improves balance, gait and flexibility, stimulates the brain, and provides cardiac and pulmonary benefits. Talk to your doctor about the intensity of exercise that is recommended for you based on your medical history.
    3. Eat a balanced diet. Unfortunately, malnutrition and dehydration are very common in seniors, Dr. Navarro says. Again, it is important to talk to your doctor about the best diet for you based on any medical conditions you may have, but in general, eating a diet consisting of lean meats, whole grains, and five servings of fruits and vegetables is the nutritional key to good health.
    4. See your doctor for regular checkups—even if you feel well. There are “silent” medical conditions that don’t cause symptoms but have a great impact on your health and future health risks, such as hyperlipidemia, which impacts stroke and heart attack risk, and osteoporosis, which increases risk for future fractures.
    5. Complete an advance health care directive. This important document specifies the care and treatment you want in the event that you are incapable of making your own health care decisions. You can appoint an agent or agents who have power of attorney to make care and treatment decisions on your behalf and give instructions about your health care wishes. Keep a copy of this directive in your personal files and give another copy to your doctor to be placed in your medical record.

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