Will you soon be considered a senior citizen?
Or is someone you love already a senior?
Wondering if health and wellness or chronic diseases are in your future?
If so, you’re not alone . . .
Mary spent the last several years caring for various elderly family members.
Mary eats healthy, usually preparing her own meals at home. She exercises regularly and never smoked.
Now that she’s reached her 50s she wonders if she’s at risk for some of the chronic diseases her elderly family members developed . . .or if she’ll live like her
great-grandmother — healthy, active and alert well into her 90s.
In 2000 there were approximately 35 million senior citizens in the U.S. That number is expected to more than double to about 71 million by 2030 when the youngest of the Baby Boomer Generation become seniors.
So what are aging associated diseases?
Aging associated diseases are the diseases that are seen more frequently in the elderly.
What are some aging associated diseases?
- Cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and blood vessels) including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.
- Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis.
- Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.
- Parkinson’s Disease.
- Diabetes, especially Type 2.
- Some infections such as pneumonia.
Are aging associated diseases an unavoidable part of getting older?
The CDC reports, “Older adults who practice healthy behaviors, take advantage of clinical preventive services, and continue to engage family and friends are more likely to remain healthy, live independently and incur fewer health-related costs.”
It further notes that preventing chronic diseases and reducing complications associated with them is essential to keeping seniors healthy. And about 80% of seniors have one chronic condition, while 50% have at least two.
Unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, eating highly processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle can increase seniors’ risks for aging associated diseases.
Do you know . . .?
Research shows that antioxidants can help fight chronic inflammation and boost your immune system.
By repairing the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are formed under a variety of situations, including during normal chemical processes called metabolism.
Normally the body can handle free radicals. With aging, there is an increase in production of free radicals. And smoking, pollution, and other factors can increase their production.
Excess production of free radicals can lead to chronic inflammation and can suppress your immune system.
Chronic inflammation is thought to play a major role in the development of aging related diseases. And major complications of chronic diseases in seniors can be infections like pneumonia.
Antioxidants are the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help your body repair damage caused by free radicals.
While many experts believe the best way to get those antioxidants is through healthy eating of foods high in antioxidants, sometimes even when eating healthy your body may need supplements.
What about supplements?
Well, the short answer is “sometimes.”
Excess vitamins and minerals are not usually suggested long-term for a variety of reasons. Sometimes your doctor may suggest supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals (not in excess amounts).
Looking at the wide selection of supplements and wondering which is best for you?
In an old-fashioned neighborhood pharmacy the pharmacist would more than count out pills or mix up a liquid from a powder. The pharmacist would compound medications and might even give advice.
The pharmacist knew as much as the doctor about medical histories and drug tolerances of his clientele.
Today with supplements in grocery stores, health food stores, pharmacies and even online it’s hard to know where to start. And pharmacists are often hidden behind tall counters — if they’re even on site!
Of course your doctor may have a personal recommendation for you.
Sometimes doctors don’t have a specific suggestion though.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have customized vitamins tailored to your personal needs?
Bibliography: Healthy Aging: Improving and Extending Quality of Life Among Older Americans, CDC, last accessed 4-13-2011.
Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Ambassador of Elder Care, HowToLiveOnPurpose.com
Founder, CaregivingWithPurpose.com and TheKnittingYarn.com
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