Chapter 15 healthy aging build Your Future Living Long and Well



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CHAPTER 15

HEALTHY AGING
Build Your Future

Living Long and Well

“Every man desires to live long,” wrote Jonathan Swift, “but no man would be old.” We all wish for long lives, yet we want to avoid the disease and disability that can tarnish our golden years. Which of the following steps will you take to ensure a lifetime of health?

___ Exercise regularly. By improving blood flow, staving off depression, warding off heart disease, and enhancing wellbeing, regular workouts help keep mind and body in top form.

___ Don’t smoke. Every cigarette you puff can snuff out seven minutes of your life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

___ Watch your weight and blood pressure. Increases in these vital statistics can increase your risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems.

___ Eat more fruits and vegetables. These foods, rich in vitamins and protective antioxidants, can reduce your risk of cancer and damage from destructive free radicals.

___ Cut down on fat. Fatty foods can clog the arteries and contribute to various cancers.

___ Limit drinking. Alcohol can undermine physical health and sabotage mental acuity.

___ Cultivate stimulating interests. Elderly individuals with complex and interesting lifestyles are most likely to retain sharp minds and memories beyond age 70.

___ Don’t worry; be happy. At any age, emotional turmoil can undermine well-being. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, help by reducing stress.

___ Reach out. Try to keep in contact with other people of all ages and experiences. Make the effort to invite them to your home or go out with them. On a regular basis, do something to help another person.

___ Make the most of your time. Greet each day with a specific goal—to take a walk, write letters, visit a friend.



Self Survey

What Is Your Aging IQ?

Answer True or False

T

F

1. Everyone becomes “senile” sooner or later, if he or she lives long enough.

T

F

2. American families have by and large abandoned their older members.

T

F

3. Depression is a serious problem for older people.

T

F

4. The numbers of older people are growing.

T

F

5. The vast majority of older people are self-sufficient.

T

F

6. Mental confusion is an inevitable, incurable consequence of old age.

T

F

7. Intelligence declines with age.

T

F

8. Sexual urges and activity normally cease around ages 55 to 60.

T

F

9. If a person has been smoking for 30 or 40 years, it does no good to quit.

T

F

10. Older people should stop exercising and rest.

T

F

11. As you grow older, you need more vitamins and minerals to stay healthy.

T

F

12. Only children need to be concerned about calcium for strong bones and teeth.

T

F

13. Extremes of heat and cold can be particularly dangerous to old people.

T

F

14. Many older people are hurt in accidents that could have been prevented.

T

F

15. More men than women survive to old age.

T

F

16. Deaths from stroke and heart disease are declining.

T

F

17. Older people on the average take more medications than younger people.

T

F

18. Snake oil salesmen are as common today as they were on the frontier.

T

F

19. Personality changes with age, just like hair color and skin texture.

T

F

20. Sight declines with age.


Scoring

1. False. Even among those who live to be 80 or older, only 20 to 25 percent develop Alzheimer’s disease or some other incurable form of brain disease. “Senility” is a meaningless term that should be discarded.

2. False. The American family is still the number one caretaker of older Americans. Most older people live close to their children and see them often; many live with their spouses. In all, eight out of ten men and six out of ten women live in family settings.

3. True. Depression, loss of self-esteem, loneliness, and anxiety can become more common as older people face retirement, along with the deaths of relatives and friends, and other such crises—often at the same time. Fortunately, depression is treatable.

4. True. By the year 2030, one in four people will be over 65 years of age.

5. True. Only a small percentage of the older population live in nursing homes. The rest live independently or with relatives or caregivers.

6. False. Mental confusion and serious forgetfulness in old age can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions that cause incurable damage to the brain, but some 100 other problems can cause the same symptoms. A minor head injury, a high fever, poor nutrition, adverse drug reactions, and depression can all be treated and the confusion will be cured.

7. False. Intelligence per se does not decline without reason. Most people maintain their intellect or improve as they grow older.

8. False. Most older people can lead an active, satisfying sex life.

9. False. Stopping smoking at any age not only reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, it also leads to healthier lungs.

10. False. Many older people enjoy—and benefit from— exercises such as walking, swimming, and bicycle riding. Exercise at any age can help strengthen the heart and lungs, and lower blood pressure. See your physician before beginning a new exercise program.

11. False. Although certain requirements, such as that for “sunshine” vitamin D, may increase slightly with age, older people need the same amounts of most vitamins and minerals as younger people. Older people in particular should eat nutritious food and cut down on sweets, salty snack foods, high-calorie drinks, and alcohol.

12. False. Older people require fewer calories, but adequate intake of calcium for strong bones can become more important as you grow older. This is particularly true for women, whose risk of osteoporosis increases after menopause. Milk and cheese are rich in calcium as are cooked dried beans, collards, and broccoli. Some people need calcium supplements as well.

13. True. The body’s thermostat tends to function less efficiently with age, and the older person’s body may be less able to adapt to heat or cold.

14. True. Falls are the most common cause of injuries among the elderly. Good safety habits, including proper lighting, nonskid carpets, and keeping living areas free of obstacles, can help prevent serious accidents.

15. False. Women tend to live 5 to 10 percent longer than men.

16. True. Fewer men and women are dying of stroke or heart disease.

17. True. The elderly consume 25 percent of all medications and, as a result, have many more problems with adverse drug reactions.

18. True. Medical quackery is a $10 billion business in the United States. People of all ages are commonly duped into “quick cures” for aging, arthritis, and cancer.

19. False. Personality doesn’t change with age. Therefore, all old people can’t be described as rigid and cantankerous. You are what you are for as long as you live. But you can change what you do to help yourself to good health.



20. False. Although changes in vision become more common with age, any change in vision, regardless of age, is related to a specific disease. If you are having problems with your vision, see your doctor.

Source: National Institute on Aging, www.counselingnotes.com/seniors/age/ age_iq.htm.



Chapter 15 ♦ Healthy Aging
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