In 2016 Dartmouth University released a report entitled The Dartmouth Atlas Project report, Our Parents, Ourselves: Health Care for an Aging Population. In the report, Dr. Julie Bynum and her co-authors breakdown seniors’ healthcare experience.
By evaluating total contact days (outpatient appointments, hospital stays, procedures, tests, and imaging), inpatient days, etc. the physicians were able to elaborate on some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare for the elderly in the United States.
Bynum and her colleagues found that many times elderly patients were living quite nearly the entirety of the end of their lives in healthcare facilities. Dr. Julie Bynum described the situation in an interview with Forbes:
“It’s often a joke that all elderly people want to talk about is their health care, that healthcare is a kind of substitute for a social life. That may be a joke, but I think these numbers should give us pause — pause to ask whether, as an older adult or one of their family members, we want to be spending our time this way, shuttling back and forth between visits? Would it be possible to organize care such that we can reclaim some of those days to take care of ourselves?”
Bynum makes an invaluable point here, organizing care as we age, and not wasting time with useless appointments, is vital to our quality of life.
Too many elderlies in this country spend their golden years in hospitals and doctor’s offices. However, with a mix of prevention and organization of care, seniors can greatly improve their final years.
Obviously, the best way to prevent the need for excessive medical care as we age is to simply stay active.
There are hundreds of studies that describe the positive effects of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training for the elderly. Even the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends daily exercise for seniors to maintain health.
Research indicates it doesn’t matter whether you stay active by running, walking, doing yoga, strength training, or swimming; what matters is consistent activity as we age.
Many seniors, unfortunately, don’t have the mobility they used to, which means they may struggle with staying active. Luckily, there are medical supply companies, like Amica Medical Supply, out there who can provide all your medical needs, including wheelchairs, walkers, mobility scooters, etc. which can help you stay active in your golden years.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet as we age can be difficult, but it is one of the most important steps to living a fruitful life in our final years. Eating the proper amounts of protein, vegetables, and whole grains goes a long way to making life more pleasant.
Many seniors face chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease which can be exacerbated by a poor diet. Taking the simple step to plan out healthy meals is a game-changer.
Of course, eating healthy can be expensive and older Americans often struggle with their finances. It pays to have a resource to help you make the right food choices, even on a budget. The National Council On Aging supplies informative articles that can make the process easy.
Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Organize Your Checkups!
The elderly in America often spend too much of their time in doctor’s offices. This leads to increased stress and a lower quality of life. One of the best ways to reduce the overall amount of time spent in healthcare facilities is by properly organizing care.
Screenings for everything from cancer to vision issues are necessary for later life, however many of these things can be done with a single doctor’s visit to your general physician.
Furthermore, when you do need to specialize—if you need to care for orthopedic conditions— for example, it pays to skip your general physician and use online resources to find a specialist right away.
Organizing your checkups so you can skip unnecessary appointments and see the right doctor first is a great way to save time and receive better care for less money.
Remember Your Pearly Whites
According to a study based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which took place from 1999–2004, poor oral health is associated with increased mortality risk. As Jung Ki Jim of the University of Southern California says in the study:
“Significant tooth loss, root caries, and periodontal disease were associated with increased odds of dying.”
It’s essential to maintain oral health as we age. Of course, many seniors grew up in a time when dentistry wasn’t as important or sophisticated and thus have bee left suffering in their later years with many serious oral health issues.
Thankfully there are dentists who can help seniors who have already lost their teeth or are on their way to losing their teeth, maintain their oral health. Part of that care comes with selecting the right dentures or partial dentures to fit your needs.
Luckily, dentures aren’t what they used to be. Full-service dental labs now exist to perfectly mold and quickly deliver your dentures.
So, don’t forget your pearly whites as you age, it’s not just about looking good.
In the 21st century, mental health has become a fad. Every business, every college student, and every local barista knows about the importance of mental health.
Unfortunately, many of our seniors have been left behind. Some of the most stressful times in our lives come as we age and face our own mortality. That’s why so many seniors are affected by depression and anxiety.
Still, thankfully there is a lot you can do to help maintain your mental health as you age. The first step is to always stay active and eat right.
In fact, the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry recently published a study that emphasized the value of staying active. The study found “a significant decrease in depressive and anxiety scores and an improvement in the quality of life” in patients who were asked to stay active vs. patients who were sedentary.
Mental health isn’t just about the physical though, learning how to deal with stress, anxiety, and depression through self-assessment and care is invaluable. Of course, sometimes we need help. Although many seniors feel therapy isn’t for them, psychiatrists can be a great tool to maintain mental health.
As we age we face a whole new host of health problems, staying ahead of things with prevention is essential to living a long and happy life.
So, remember, eat healthy, stay active, organize those checkups, don’t forget your pearly whites and it always pays to take care of your mental health.