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Protect Your Health As You Grow Older

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    Content last updated on:
    January 31, 2013

    The Basics

    Getting older doesn’t have to mean losing your health. To stay healthy as you age:

    • Keep your body and mind active
    • Choose healthy foods
    • Get regular checkups
    • Take steps to prevent accidents

    Remember, it’s never too late to make healthy changes in your life.

    The Basics

    Stay active to live longer and better.
    Staying active can help you:

    • Reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer
    • Avoid falls and other injuries
    • Live on your own longer
    • Prevent depression

    Plus, staying active may help keep your mind sharp.

    Check out how staying active can help you with everyday tasks [PDF - 864 KB].

    Take Action!

    Take Action!

    These steps can help you live a longer, healthier life.

    Get active.
    Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your health. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking or raking leaves.

    • To get the most health benefits, do aerobic activity for at least 10 minutes at a time.
    • If it’s hard for you to be active for more than 10 minutes at once, do 10 minutes of activity a few times during the day.
    • Do strengthening and balance activities 2 days a week. Try these exercises for older adults.
    • If you have a health condition, be as active as you can be. Your doctor can help you choose the best activities for you.
    • Follow these safety tips during physical activity [PDF - 627 KB].
    • Keep your mind active. Read, do crossword puzzles, or learn new things.

    Get more tips to help you stay active as you get older.

    Take Action!

    Eat healthy.
    As you get older, you may not be able to eat all the foods you used to eat. But eating healthy meals is still important, no matter how old you are.

    Here are some tips:

    • Choose lots of vegetables and fruits in different colors.
    • Make sure most of your grains (like rice and pasta) are whole grains.
    • Drink low-fat or fat-free milk.
    • Choose lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, eggs, and nuts.
    • Stay away from trans and saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugar.

    Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions about eating well as you get older.

    Take Action!

    If you smoke, quit.
    When you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease will start to go down right away. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free help with quitting. 

    Get regular checkups.
    Your doctor or nurse can help you stay healthy as you get older.

    Take Action!

    Stay safe at home and in the car.
    Older adults are at greater risk for injuries from falls, home fires, and car crashes.

    Take steps to prevent falls.
    Do these 4 things to prevent falls:

    1. Exercise to improve your balance and leg strength.
    2. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines. Some medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy.
    3. Get your vision checked at least every 1 to 2 years. Update your glasses or contact lenses when your vision changes.
    4. Use this Home Falls Prevention Checklist [PDF - 7 MB] to help you find and fix the dangers in your home.

    Take Action!

    Put smoke alarms on every floor of your home.
    Use long-life smoke alarms if possible. These alarms use lithium batteries and last longer than regular smoke alarms. They also have a “hush button” so you can stop the alarm quickly if there’s a false alarm.

    If you use regular smoke alarms, replace the batteries every year. (Tip: Change smoke alarm batteries when you change your clock back from Daylight Savings Time in the fall.) Follow these other tips on smoke alarms:

    • Test your smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button.
    • Put smoke alarms in each bedroom and on the ceiling outside bedroom doors. If people sleep in other rooms of the house, put smoke alarms inside and outside of these rooms, too.
    • Don’t forget to put a smoke alarm in the basement.
    • Replace your smoke alarm if it doesn’t work when tested or if it’s more than 10 years old.
    • Dust or vacuum smoke alarms when you change the batteries.

    Get more tips on smoke alarms.

    Take Action!

    Watch for changes that may affect your driving.
    Getting older doesn’t make you a bad driver. But changes that come with aging can make it harder for you to drive safely. You may have trouble seeing at night or find it harder to react quickly to avoid an accident.

    Take these steps to stay safe:

    • Get your vision and hearing checked.
    • Always wear your seat belt.
    • Drive on streets you know.

    Get tips on how to stay safe behind the wheel.

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