Getting Older? Getting Worried? Remember – your health is your best asset. But chronic diseases eg osteoarthritis, low back pain, diabetes, and frailty don’t have to mean early death or disability. If you are willing to make changes – no matter how small – you can improve your health.
1. Don’t stop moving, even if you have aches and pains
Do whatever you can to keep active and keep moving. Loss of movement leads to loss of involvement in social and other activities and can result in you becoming housebound. Socialising is crucial in maintaining interest in life and preventing depression. So join clubs, sport and social events. Keep your brain active! Read, play bridge, do crosswords. Keep in touch with family and friends!
2. Always stay safe
Even as you are staying active, try to avoid trips and falls. These will have a bigger impact on your lifestyle and your choices than anything else. There are many things you can do to stay safe while staying active:
- Wear good shoes
- Get rid of rugs, or tape the edges down flat
- Don’t be too proud to use your support aids such as 4 prong walking stick, 4 wheeled walkers or wheelchair
- Attend balance or physiotherapy classes
- Take a mobile phone or other device with you wherever you go. Yes, even in the garden or clothesline. That way if you do fall, you can contact someone immediately.
- Get rails put inside and outside your house wherever you need them. Modify your bathroom. Get a non slip mat. Use a flat floor shower, with a shower chair. No more getting in and out of baths.
Most of these items are available through Aged Care Packages, with some personal contribution. You can hire them from pharmacies.
More information about how to prevent falls here.
3. Deal with any health problems immediately
If you have any problems with your health, don’t wait to see if it goes away. Watch our videos to see what you can do even if it is a minor skin tear. Take care of it immediately to prevent infection or ulcers. For more urgent matters, get to your GP or hospital. You are not annoying the emergency services- they are there for you. Find a doctor who suits tour needs and has time to talk and listen. Make sure you book a long appointment if you have more than one concern to discuss.
4. Take care of your diet
Buy fresh and eat fresh. Protein is important to maintain muscle mass and it is muscle that keeps you strong and independent. So eat your proteins, maybe add a protein powder drink with milk to your diet. Eat healthy fats such as nuts and avocados. If you are losing your appetite, eat little and often. Ditch soft drinks and sugar.
Save alcohol for special occasions. Keep most nights alcohol free. You will feel better, sleep better, and your memory will improve. Alcohol changes the effects of medications – making some stronger and some less effective, and it increases the risk of falling. If you have problems chewing or eating, watch these tips from our speech pathologist.
5. Changes need to be made with SMART goals!
Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely. Start small, make sure it’s achievable. If you fall off the wagon – don’t despair- get up and do it again! It’s no point saying you are going to lose 20 kilos – let’s start with 5. See how much better you feel with 5 kilos down, then work on the next 5.
6. Use services available for you
There are many services in this day and age which have been designed for people just you. So use them! Aged Care Packages, ACATs, home help and many more. Ask to see a Social Worker if you are in hospital or your General Practitioner before you go in. Many local councils can help with household chores – phone them and see what they offer. They may also have arrangements with gardeners and cleaners in your area. They are there to help make life better, keep you at home longer and make your years better. You have paid your taxes. It’s payback time. If there are jobs that need doing that could lead to injury – get help. There’s no point falling off a ladder over a light bulb that your council would change for you.