This is the third in a series of posts covering the Healthy Aging Checklist.
Again, the Healthy Aging Checklist summarizes the six fundamental activities I recommend when asked what to do to maintain the best possible health while aging. They are:
- Promote brain health and emotional well-being.
- Promote physical health.
- Check for and address common aging health problems (such as falls, memory concerns, depression, incontinence, pain, isolation, polypharmacy).
- Learn to optimize the management of any chronic conditions.
- Get recommended preventive health services for older adults.
- Address medical, legal, and financial advance care planning.
In this post, I’ll cover the third item: addressing commonly neglected aging health problems that routinely sabotage healthy aging.
These issues are sometimes referred to as geriatric syndromes. They affect health and quality of life, and although they happen more in people who are older or frailer, they affect countless people in their 60s and 70s as well.
Virtually all of these issues affect a older adults’s ability to socialize, be physically active, and take good care of himself or herself. So addressing these is key to enabling healthier aging.
Unfortunately, these issues routinely fall through the cracks of usual medical care. People often suffer from these problems for years without anyone taking effective action.
This may be because many people — doctors, older adults themselves, or family members — assume nothing can be done about these, and that they are just “part of getting old.”
Don’t believe that. We have studied these problems in geriatrics and most of the time, correctly evaluating and then managing these problems helps older adults and their families feel better, live better, and sometimes even live longer.
Remember, healthy aging is not just about preventing problems. It’s also about spotting them and addressing them before they get worse, or drag down the rest of your health and independence.
So for healthier aging, be proactive in checking for these oft-neglected problems.
And then remember: sub-optimal treatment of these problems is all too common. So you’ll need to be proactive about getting them correctly managed — which might mean either seeing a geriatrician (here’s how to find a geriatrician) or making sure your usual doctor is thinking like one.
Here’s what to look for, and how to learn more: