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Ensure your future stays bright as you age

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 01, 2012 with No Comments

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Health and fitness must be the later decades of your life

50’s
“By the time we reach our 50s, many of us have developed some bad habits,” said Don Dunevant, MD, family medicine physician with Portage Medical Group. “Yet it’s not too late to make positive changes that could add years to your life and life to your years,” he said. Here are his top tips for your 50s:

Quit Smoking
The risk of dying from smoking-related causes drops significantly within just a few years of giving up cigarettes, even for longtime smokers, according to Dunevant. “Within a year of quitting, your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s, according to the Centers for Disease Control,” he said. “These days your doctor can offer a variety of new medications that can help you quit if you’re committed.”

Screen for early diagnoses
“When we reach 50, we should be screened for a number of conditions so we can be treated early enough to make a difference,” said Dunevant. During your 50s, he recommends getting your first colonoscopy as well as screening for hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes. Women should continue with regular pap tests and mammograms while men should have their prostate checked as well as possible PSA screening. “Taking a daily aspirin might also reduce your risk of a heart attack, so ask your doctor if it’s right for you.”

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Obesity is a major health problem, which can lead to diabetes, hyperlipidemia and higher blood pressure. You can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight over the course of a six-month period, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “We all know that losing weight is hard to do. Our bodies store calories very efficiently and each pound of extra fat equals almost 4,000 calories! That means that if you exercise and burn off 400 calories in an hour, it would take 10 days to lose one pound,” said Dunevant. Though patients often want diet pills to help, Dunevant cautions that they provide only temporary results. “You simply have to eat fewer calories, exercise more and be very, very patient as it comes off slowly.”

60s
“Often patients in their 60s are dealing with lots of stress, perhaps caring for elderly parents while at the same time trying to help out their own children who may be struggling with divorce or financial difficulty,” said Kenneth Black, MD, Family Medicine Practitioner with Portage Medical Group. “Though sandwiched between generations, it’s important in your 60s to prevent yourself from moving your own needs to the back burner. With good care, we can stay vital in our 60s and well beyond.” Black recommends focusing on the following in your 60s:

Stay sharp mentally
“So many of us are worried about Alzheimer’s and dementia. I reassure patients that misplacing your keys or forgetting a number you’ve placed on speed dial doesn’t mean you’re losing your mental function. You may simply be distracted,” said Black. He recommends keeping your mind sharp by staying active, interacting with others, reading, thinking and doing puzzles.

Move!
“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” said Black. “Studies show that movement is good for your body as well as your mind. In fact, it may help slow dementia. Be active. If you can challenge yourself on a stationary bike or in a pool, that’s great. But just walking each day can keep you going. Keep moving.”

Be prepared
Plan ahead so crises don’t unravel you, said Black. “Back in our 20s many of us spent more time caring for our cars than ourselves. But in your 60s, you need to appreciate and monitor health. Many people in their 60s are dealing with financial worries with reduced retirement funds or job loss. It’s easier to face adversity when you’re healthy and vital. This is the time of your life when you need your own Marcus Welby – someone who knows you and that you trust. See your doctor regularly and monitor your health like it matters, because it does!”

See the positive
“Your 60s can be the September of your life. Can’t run a marathon? Then ride your bike. Focus on what you can do. Staying positive can be half the battle so focus on maintaining an attitude that your glass is half full,” said Black. “Often patients in their 60s are dealing with lots of stress, perhaps caring for elderly parents while at the same time trying to help out their own children who may be struggling with divorce or financial difficulty,” said Kenneth Black, MD, Family Medicine Practitioner with Portage Medical Group. “Though sandwiched between generations, it’s important in your 60s to prevent yourself from moving your own needs to the back burner. With good care, we can stay vital in our 60s and well beyond.” Black recommends focusing on the following in your 60s.

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