Health Screenings for Seniors

HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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seniors. Forming healthy connections with others is a positive step towards maintaining good mental health. Jacobs says some things you can do to promote mental health include staying sociable, meeting with other middle-aged people for dinner or drinks, going to church, taking a class or getting together with your grandkids and going to McDonald’s.


“Friendships are good for you,” Jacobs said.


Volunteering is another great way to get out and about.


“There are public libraries in all our counties looking for volunteers,” Jacobs said. “If you like animals and want to get exercise without committing to a gym, you might volunteer with the Humane Society and walk dogs.”


Whatever you do, just don’t sit back and let the world pass you by.


“Staying active as a senior is so important, not just physically but emotionally,” Jacobs said. “You want to stay as busy as you can. Keep moving, even if it is walking to the mailbox and back. Just keep going.”

Health screenings can be lifesaving.


“Any individual of any age does better taking care of themselves before they get ill, but sometimes that is unavoidable,” said Lydia Jacobs, aging program coordinator with the Bluegrass Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living. “For the most part, with annual checkups, vitamins, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and just being aware of your body, you will do better.”


What kinds of screenings should you have?


The American Academy of Ophthalmology says it is important to have a complete eye exam with your ophthalmologist every year or two after age 65 to check for age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or cataracts. It also emphasized the necessity of having a good night’s sleep because during sleep the eyes clear out irritants such as dust, allergens or smoke that may have accumulated in them throughout the day.


The National Institutes of Health says if you are between ages 55 and 80, have a 30-pack year smoking history and smoke now or have quit in the past 15 years, you should get screened for lung cancer. Quitting is one of the best decisions you can make for your health.  

HEALTH SCREENINGS FOR SENIORS

The U.S. Preventive Task Force offers some other useful screening recommendations:

•  Women above age 40 should get a screening mammography every one to two years.

•  Between ages 21 and 65, women should get a Pap smear every three years.

•  From ages 50 to 75, you should be checked for colorectal cancer.

•  Obesity screening and counseling is important for anyone with a body mass index greater than 30.

•  People over age 65 should be screened for osteoporosis. Work with your doctor to schedule appropriate screenings.


“Your doctor is a good partner,” Jacobs said. “It is important to find a doctor you feel comfortable with, someone who tries to get to know you. This way you will be more willing to discuss emotional health and any changes you are going through.”


When people think of health screenings, they generally assume it only includes testing for cancer, heart disease and other physical ailments. But mental health screenings are just as important. Depression and anxiety are prevalent among

JAMIE LOBER

Jamie Lober is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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