Preventative Care: A Five-Step Guide for Seniors and Family Caregivers

Author

Comfort Keepers

Posted on

Aug 05, 2022

Book/Edition

Colorado - Western Slope

As people age, you can help them create a preventative care routine to keep them happy and comfortable for years to come. 

While factors such as age, gender, and family history are beyond seniors’ control, preventative care can reduce the frequency and severity of conditions that develop. 

That can mean regular immunizations and wellness checks. For example, you can:

·        Get regularly scheduled vaccines

·        Schedule screenings for common diseases, conditions, and cancer

·        Create a healthier and more joyful lifestyle are all habits that can ensure better wellbeing

·        It’s a good idea to join your family member for their appointments with healthcare providers to determine what the necessary steps are to help improve their health and protect them against sickness or injury. 

As always, positivity and connection can be strong influencers of overall health.

Here are some ways to practice good preventative care: 

1.   Schedule Regular Screenings for Common Diseases and Conditions: 
According to the National Institute of Aging, the most beneficial thing you and your loved one can do in a doctor’s appointment is to be their notetaker. Make a list of all the questions you might have with regards to medical testing and a list of conditions that run in your family. Help make sure these questions are answered, and take notes.

As a starting point, people 65 and older can ask their primary care physicians about the following tests:

High Blood Pressure 
Make sure your loved one’s healthcare provider checks their blood pressure once a year. This can help reduce chances of a heart attack and stroke.

Weight 
Your loved one can work with their doctor to maintain a healthy weight, which will help prevent risks for heart disease and diabetes.

Vision 
See the eye doctor for an examination once a year to keep vision strong and detect early signs of conditions like cataracts, presbyopia, temporal arteritis, dry eyes, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. 

Hearing 
Hearing loss can happen with age, but like glasses for vision, modern hearing aids can provide tailor-made correction for your specific hearing deficits. That makes a world of a difference and helps your loved one feel more connected with the world around them.

Diabetes 
If high blood pressure, obesity, or cholesterol are concerns, then blood tests should be scheduled once every 1-3 years to ensure minimize the risk for diabetes. Exercising and eating healthy can also help decrease the risk.

Depression 
It’s important for doctors to ask questions about general mood and emotional being at least once a year. Depression can be common in older adults.

Dementia and Cognitive Impairment 
Make sure your loved one’s provider is periodically doing memory tests to see if any other testing should be done for cognitive impairment.

Call your loved one’s healthcare provider to learn what diseases and/or conditions they might need to be tested for.

2.   Schedule and Receive Screenings and Tests for Cancer:
It’s recommended that your loved one receive screenings for common cancers for doctors to detect it early.

·        Breast Cancer 

·        Colon Cancer 

·        Cervical Cancer 

·        Prostate Cancer 

·        Lung Cancer

3.   Schedule and Receive Vaccinations for the following:
A person’s immune system can weaken with age, which is why many older adults are at an increased risk for diseases. Luckily, many of these diseases can be prevented, or severity can be lessened, with vaccines. Your primary care doctor can inform you as to how often your loved one should get vaccinated and whether any additional ones are necessary. Here are the following recommended vaccinations:

·        Influenza

·        COVID-19  

·        Pneumonia

·        Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis 

·        Shingles 

4.   Eliminate Risks for Disease by doing the following: 

o    Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking can increase one’s life expectancy and lower risks of heart disease and some cancers, as well as improve overall lung function and blood circulation

o    Moderate Alcohol Use 
Limiting alcohol use can help your loved one’s current medication (if they take any) be more effective and can also prevent risks of bleeding in the stomach, memory loss, sleep problems and liver disease.

o    Increase Exercise 
Physical activity can help treat and prevent many diseases and is excellent for better lung function and overall circulation! If your loved one has a difficult time performing more strenuous activities like jumping or muscle strengthening, then they can try the following:

o    Moderate walking

o    Cleaning the house

o    Gardening

o    Tai-Chi

If your loved one can perform more intense physical activities without strain, then they can try the following:

·        Yoga 

·        Working out with resistance bands and/or weights

·        Brisk walking 

·        Swimming

·        Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can be delicious and easy. A well-balanced diet should include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, and low-fat dairy. Meal-prepping saves time and makes balanced eating easier.

5.   Follow the necessary steps for preventing injury 

·         Remove fall risks

·         Have your loved one’s healthcare providers do an evaluation to check balance, walking ability, bone health, speed, and heart health so they know how to take extra care

·         Make sure your loved one gets their hearing vision checked 

·         If your loved one needs, arrange for them to see a physical therapist to work on strength and balance 

·         Look into a fall-prevention or exercise program for your loved on

·         Check your loved one’s environment for potential dangers like slick floors, loose cords, and other trip hazards

Improve home safety

·         Lower the water temperature in the water heater to prevent burns

·         Install smoke detectors

·         Install alarms and automatic shut-off features on appliances

 If you have any questions, please contact Comfort Keepers in Grand Junction at 970-232-2165.

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