Healthy Aging Month: Take control of your health, happiness

Aug 28, 2019Courtney Morris

Age . . . we can't choose it, but we can choose our attitude and actions.

In honor of Healthy Aging Month this September, we share practical tips to improve your physical and mental well-being.

San Jacinto College faculty offer the following ideas for making healthy choices in all areas of life.

Aye, Aye to Eye Health

It takes more than eating carrots to ensure good vision.

As you age, focus on an annual eye exam for diagnosis and treatment of conditions. Diabetic? See an eye doctor every 6-12 months.

"Eye conditions can't be prevented, but early detection is key," Debra Clarke, eye care technology program director, said.

Here are some conditions and symptoms to be aware of:

  • Cataracts: Cause blurry, hazy, or less colorful vision
  • Glaucoma: Damages the optic nerve, causing fluid build-up in the front of the eye
  • Age-related macular degeneration: Damages part of the retina, impacting central (not peripheral) vision

While you can't completely avoid issues, you can live an overall healthy lifestyle, including managing cholesterol and avoiding smoking, to improve eye health.

Unlock the Potential of Ultrasounds

Have persistent abdominal or other pain? An ultrasound may uncover the problem.

Too much cholesterol in the body can create gallstones, which obstruct the release of bile and hinder digestion, said Samisha Davis, diagnostic medical sonography program director.

Untreated, gallstones can cause inflammation, severe pain, fever, and even cancer.

"The most common risk factor is obesity," Davis said. "Other factors include having diabetes or liver disease and taking hormone therapy drugs containing estrogen."

Her tips for reducing gallstone risk:

  • Don't skip meals. Fasting can lead to bile build-up.
  • Lose weight slowly — no more than 1-2 pounds per week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and increase physical activity.

If you have persistent pain anywhere, see your health care provider for an ultrasound.

Be Proactive about Prescriptions

Sometimes senior adults knowingly or unknowingly abuse meds — whether taking more than the prescribed dose, taking unneeded meds, or mixing prescriptions with alcohol or other drugs.

Problems include negative drug interactions, addiction, and even overdose.

"People can feel intimidated to ask their doctor questions, but it's very important to discuss all medications as well as supplements or vitamins," Cayman Tirado, mental health services program director, said.

According to Tirado, you may request a medication review with your pharmacist, who will analyze your meds for harmful interactions and side effects.

Concerned? Ask your doctor these questions:

  • Do I take any meds that could cause a drug interaction?
  • How should I organize my meds to avoid making a mistake?
  • How do I know if I am abusing my prescriptions and need help?

Choose Health

Adopt a healthy lifestyle before you have issues.

Fill your plate with healthy proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Lace up your sneakers instead of lounging on the couch after dinner. Instead of worrying, get screenings to check for health conditions.

But health is more than external. It's also about attitude.

Check your complaints at the door. Be realistic but maintain a positive outlook to help you face challenges and improve your quality of life.

Take control of your health and happiness today!