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Seniors and Disease II – 4 Ways Seniors can Combat Disease


Thanks to improvements in medicine and technology, the fight to remain independent is no longer a losing battle. We all have to concede and give ground, but there is no need to throw in the towel. Last week I briefly discussed three ways seniors may be more prone to disease. Today, I am looking at a few common-sense precautions they can take to keep from getting sick. By now you have probably guessed that I am not a big promoter of better health through better drugs. Instead, I like to, first, explore simple choices and implement those before doing something that may be more drastic. Of course, if you have been negligent regarding your health, drastic may be your only choice. Remember, I’m not a doctor.


  • Diet and exercise – The Mayo Clinic is just one source of many touting that regular exercise can slow “disease-related declines,” especially for chronic diseases like heart ailments, arthritis, asthma, or joint pain. Regarding diet and healthy eating, quotes from the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, “1 in 4 older Americans has poor nutrition. Malnutrition puts you at risk of becoming overweight or underweight. It can weaken your muscles and bones. It also leaves you vulnerable to disease. To meet your nutritional needs, eat foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Limit foods that are high in processed sugars, saturated and trans fats, and salt.”


  • Regular doctor visits – It’s important to have regular checkups, especially as we grow older and our bodies change. According to the CDC, “regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances of living a longer, healthier life.”


  • Less Stress –  Harvard Health Publishing notes that “A big part of stress management focuses on triggering the opposite of the stress response: the relaxation response, which helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones.” Minimizing these triggers can help lower a senior’s risk of a serious disease or illness.


  • Adequate rest and sleep – According to Helpguidecom, a” good night’s sleep helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease. Older adults who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, and experience more nighttime falls. Insufficient sleep can also lead to serious health problems, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems, and breast cancer in women.”


I know of no foolproof way to never have any health issues. As you learned last week, the longer you live, the greater your odds of getting something. Of course, you probably intuitively knew this. The above list is certainly not exhaustive. You could add having regular vaccinations and quit smoking. I’m sure there are other suggestions. The point is, seniors can be proactive in fighting disease and retaining a high level of functional independence.