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Healthy Aging Tips

Maintaining an activity-filled lifestyle can help older adults enjoy more happy years with fewer trips to the doctor. Chronic illness plays a key role in the quality of life, and it accounts for 86 percent of healthcare expenditures among older adults. Here are some tips for staving off these diseases and living well:

Eat Well

Don’t underestimate the importance of a proper diet. As people age, the risk for a number of illnesses increases. Proper nutrition can stave off a number of ailments, increase energy and even improve mood. A well-planned diet can reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Bone loss
  • Cancer
  • Anemia

Be active

This isn’t new, but it remains one of the best pieces of advice for adults who crave good health. Exercise doesn't have to be that intensive to provide benefits. There are many safe, low-impact activities for seniors. Certain exercises build coordination and muscle and decrease the risk of falls. Also, it’s never too late to start. Exercise can:

  • Help alleviate diseases and disabilities
  • Manage stress
  • Improve mood
  • Prevent or delay disease
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Improve balance
  • Improve blood flow

Get your sleep

Overall, Americans underrate sleep. Sure, it keeps us from being overly tired at the end of the day. But it also has profound effects on our health. Multiple studies link the lack of sleep to heart problems, strokes, obesity, clogged arteries and high blood pressure. It also increases inflammation in the body. Older adults with poor sleep can also experience additional issues, such as:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Increased falls
  • Increase in the use of over the counter sleep aids
  • Memory and attention issues
  • Sleep apnea

Prevent falls

Falls can take a drastic toll on older adults, causing bone fractures that can result in long hospital stays and hip implants. But falls don’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. Make sure your daily environment is safe from fall-related hazards. Some things to consider:

  • Remove loose rugs, especially throw rungs
  • Add handrails to walking areas
  • Put sturdy hold bars in the tub and shower area
  • Place a small plastic chair in the shower
  • Consider a lift chair. These are electric recliners that also lift forward, helping people to get in and out of chairs

Manage Stress

Stress makes us more prone to illnesses such as influenza and pneumonia, which are particularly dangerous to older Americans. Joining a group or club provides seniors with built-in social activities. Picking up a new hobby can also be beneficial, and certain exercises and activities can help people manage stress. Some gentle, low-impact activities include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Tai Chi
  • Water aerobics
  • Bike riding
  • Leisure walking
  • 81%

    According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, around 81 percent of seniors take prescription medication.

  • 177K

    More than 177,000 emergency room visits by older adults (starting at age 65) occur annually because of adverse drug reactions.

  • 40%

    More than 40 percent of people over age 65 take five to nine medications every day and 14-18 prescriptions per year.

  • 48

    A 2012 American Geriatric Society list of inappropriate medications for older adults says that at least 48 medications may lead to an adverse reaction.

Drugs and Medical Devices Every Senior Needs to Be Aware of

There are a number of drugs and medical devices that can cause problems for seniors. While not all patients experience problems, it is important to be informed and be aware of possible complications.

Actos (pioglitazone)

  • The Type 2 diabetes drug can cause heart failure, blurred vision, lactic acidosis, bone fractures and bladder cancer in some patients. Additionally, insulin overdosing is a common problem in diabetes patients that can lead to hospitalization. Monitoring diet, activities and insulin dosage is important.

Avandia (rosiglitazone)

  • The Type 2 diabetes medication has been linked to complications including edema, difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, dark urine, yellowing of eyes or skin, nausea, abdominal pain, vision problems, bone fractures, heart attacks and congestive heart failure.

Byetta/Bydureon (exenatide)

  • The Type 2 diabetes treatment may cause pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer or kidney damage in some patients.

Crestor (rosuvastatin)

  • The drug used to prevent heart attacks by blocking cholesterol buildup can also cause muscle deterioration, cardiomyopathy, Type 2 diabetes, memory loss, kidney and liver damage, organ failure, heart problems and death.

Fosamax (alendronate sodium)

  • The drug used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and to prevent and treat bone conditions like male osteoporosis and Paget’s disease can cause serious complications like ONJ (jaw death), joint and muscle pain, irregular heartbeat, inflammation and ulcers of the esophagus.

Granuflo and NaturaLyte

  • The acute and chronic kidney failure treatments used in hemodialysis solutions can cause serious side effects like metabolic alkalosis – which can lead to irregular heartbeat –, low potassium and oxygen, high carbon dioxide and death.

Invokana (canagliflozain)

  • The Type 2 diabetes medication can increase the risk of kidney problems, urinary tract infections, yeast infections and ketoacidosis (a condition involving a dangerous increase in the production of blood acids called ketones).

Januvia/Janumet (sitagliptin)

  • The Type 2 diabetes drug can cause side effects like pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, kidney problems and ketoacidosis.

Pradaxa (dabigatran) & Xarelto (rivaroxaban)

  • These blood thinners used to prevent strokes may cause serious side effects like uncontrolled bleeding, internal bleeding, liver problems and death in some patients.


  • The Type 2 diabetes drugs has been linked to pancreatitis.

Victoza (liraglutide)

  • The Type 2 diabetes treatment may cause pancreatitis or thyroid cancer in some patients.

Hip Replacements

  • More than 450,000 hip replacements were performed on Americans, mostly seniors, in 2010. Manufacturers like DePuy, Stryker, Zimmer, Smith and Nephew, Biomet and Wright Medical have been accused of selling problematic implants like Pinnacle, ASR and Durom Cup.
  • Complications from defective implants include metal parts rubbing against each other which can release toxic ions, loosening of parts, bone fractures, dislocations, necrosis, improper alignments and revision surgeries.

IVC Filters

  • Retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filters help protect against blood clots, but they can cause complications like vein and organ perforation, device migration and embolization.

Knee Replacements

  • The number of knee replacements on Americans, mostly seniors, doubled from 2000 to 2010, accounting for 5.2 million replacements during the decade. Manufacturers like Zimmer, DePuy, Smith and Nephew, Stryker and Biomet have been accused of marketing problematic devices like the NexGen High-Flex.
  • Complications from defective implants include the loosening of the implant, bone loss, dislocation, bone fracture, infection and necrosis.

Transvaginal Mesh

  • The medical device treats pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in women, but it can cause mesh erosion and organ perforation requiring revision surgeries.
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