(BPT) - As you age, your health needs change. Staying on top of senior wellness activities is important, but it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Creating a list of health and wellness to-do's can help you stay organized, so you look and feel your best.
"Aging well is living well and it all starts with a combination of activities that can improve our mental and physical well-being," says Dr. Scott Kaiser, chief executive officer of Determined Health, member of the Tivity Health Healthy Aging Coalition and a physician specializing in geriatric medicine. "Although health and wellness may seem to get increasingly complicated with age, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. A few simple — and fun — steps can keep us on the healthy aging path. By taking a proactive approach and prioritizing health, seniors can live their best life."
Dr. Kaiser shares a simple senior-health checklist to help keep you or a loved one focused on wellness:
Annual physical: Everyone's health is different. Even if you see specialists for certain conditions, it's typically recommended to get an annual physical with your primary physician. This is an opportunity for important health screenings that may include tests to evaluate blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, bone density and more. It's also a good time for you to ask any questions and discuss concerns.
Vaccinations: Staying current on recommended vaccinations can help you stay healthy and limit the spread of disease. Cold and flu season has arrived, so now is the time to ask your doctor about getting an influenza vaccine if you haven't already. The risk of severe illness from COVID also increases with age. COVID vaccines are safe and effective in preventing severe illness and you can help protect yourself and the people around you by getting vaccinated.
Physical activity: The Medicare Advantage Annual Election Period (AEP) is now through Dec. 7, 2021. All seniors eligible for Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement or group retiree plan may be eligible to join SilverSneakers at no additional cost and have access to live and on-demand virtual workouts, including nearly 2,000 activities and classes per week in a variety of lengths and formats. Check eligibility at SilverSneakers.com.
Social connection: Maintaining friendships and connecting with others is an important component to supporting physical, mental and emotional wellness. Set up coffee with friends. Join community groups. Check out social engagement opportunities through programs like SilverSneakers where working out with a group of peers can build friendships and community.
Mental health: Although prioritizing mental health is now more widely accepted, it still can be a challenge for older adults to admit they need help. Talk with your doctor about how you feel and mental health concerns you may have. There are many ways to help with a variety of mental health concerns, including learning mindfulness techniques to reduce anxiety, seeing a therapist and medication.
Mental enrichment: Cognitive decline can occur as you age, so it's important to be proactive to help support brain health through mental stimulation. Read books. Join a weekly game group. Check out GetSetUp, new for SilverSneakers members in participating health plans. This program provides an online learning platform designed specifically for seniors with a wide range of live video classes — over 2,000 hours per week on more than 1,800 topics — to support mental enrichment.
Nutrition: What you eat fuels your body and mind, so it's important to pack your pantry and refrigerator with wholesome foods. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, beans and low-fat dairy. Then explore recipes you can try to experience new flavors and keep mealtime exciting. If you need help or have strict dietary concerns, consider working with a nutritionist for additional guidance.
Doesn't it feel good to check a few things off your list? For more ideas on how seniors can stay active and connected, visit SilverSneakers.com.