What do Sylvester Stallone, Cher and Diane Keaton have in common, other than fame? They’re among the first wave of baby boomers to become “senior boomers.” This year, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65 – that’s one every eight seconds, a pattern expected to continue for the next 19 years.
Aging is different now than it was for our parents and grandparents. More people are living longer than at any other time in history. “Our generation is associated with social change, and we need to become activists in promoting healthful behaviors,” says baby boomer Carole Gardner, M.D., a geriatrician and chief of elder care for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. “Adopting a healthy and active lifestyle is especially important for seniors with chronic medical conditions. Physical activity can be an effective treatment for some. However, you should consult a physician before starting an exercise regimen.”
Dr. Gardner recommends 5 easy tips to help baby boomers be healthy and thrive!
1) Keep active
Do something to keep fit each day—something you enjoy that maintains strength, balance, flexibility, and promotes cardiovascular health. Physical activity such as walking helps you stay at a healthy weight, prevent or control illness, sleep better, reduce stress, avoid falls, and look and feel better too. Learn more about the benefits of a walking regimen at www.everybodywalk.org.
2) Eat well
Combined with physical activity, eating nutritious foods in the right amounts can help keep you healthy. Many illnesses—such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis—can be prevented or controlled with dietary changes and exercise. Calcium and vitamin D supplements can help women prevent osteoporosis.
3) Maintain a healthy weight
Extra weight increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Use our BMI (body mass index) calculator to find out what you should weigh for your height. Get to your healthy weight and stay there by eating right and keeping active. Replace sugary drinks with water. Water is calorie free!
4) Get regular check-ups
Check-ups for older men and women
- Vision. Every year get your eyes checked for glaucoma and other age-related eye problems.
- Osteoporosis. Ask your doctor if you need a bone density test to find out if you have thinning or brittle bones. Also ask your doctor about calcium and vitamin D supplements to help your bones.
- Colon cancer tests. Get checked for colon cancer as often as your doctor recommends. Ask your doctor which test is best for you.
- Skin cancer. Do a skin self-exam every three months, to look for any changes in your skin.
Check-ups for women only
- Pap test and pelvic exam. Ask your doctor how often you should have a Pap test. As you get older, you may not need to have a Pap test as often.
- Breast exam and mammogram. Have a doctor check your breasts every year. Ask how often you should have a mammogram, which is an X-ray of your breasts. A mammogram can spot breast cancer before it can be felt and when it is easier to treat.
- Check-ups for men only
- Prostate exam. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have a blood test (called a PSA test) for prostate cancer. Talk about the benefits and risks of the test with your doctor.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm. Ask your doctor if you need a test to check for an aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is the bulging or ballooning of the large artery in your stomach. It is caused by weakening of the artery’s walls. You may need a test if you ever smoked or if your parent, brother, sister, or child has had an aneurysm.
5) Manage stress
Try exercise or relaxation techniques – perhaps meditation or yoga – as a means of coping. Make time for friends and social contacts and fun. Successful coping can affect our health and how we feel. Learn the role of positive thinking.
Carole Gardner, MD is a board-certified geriatrician and chief of elder care for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. A graduate of the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University, Gardner completed a fellowship in geriatric medicine at the V.A. Medical Center in Lexington, KY.
Kaiser Permanente of Georgia
Glenlake Medical Center