My mother-in-law recently retired from her job. Instead of looking forward to travel or more family time, her biggest concern, like that of many seniors in my practice, was the cost and burden of her health care. With a medical history that includes diabetes and hypertension, she knew her health care dollars needed to be used wisely.
Senior health is one of the biggest national expenditures in health care. With an increased population over the age of 55, staying healthy for many seniors is an active pursuit.
In my busy integrative practice, seniors often voice the same fears. They want to live joyfully, not painfully, they want to be vibrant and energetic rather than confined to their homes and they want to know what to do to accomplish these goals. Our current medical system focuses on preventive health through a series of established lab tests and imaging studies, all of which are great at diagnosing the problem, but with no focus on prevention of the problem.
Seniors need a New Deal or new definition of health. Living Healthy is more than colonoscopies and cholesterol. It is more than exercise and eat right. A living healthy prescription for seniors should be a recipe for optimal health, evaluating the complex interplay between genetics and environment, diet and energy, nutrition and hormones, inflammation and detoxification.
Secrets For Senior Health
Don’t Accept Your Symptoms
Patients will often come into my office and assume that their memory loss is normal “for age” or that their fatigue is to be “expected.” This is most common misconception about health. Symptoms are the language of our bodies, a way of communicating that something is not quite right. You don’t have to be forgetful at 70, achy at 60 or tired at 80.
Appoint A Personal Healthcare Advocate
The biggest frustration for many seniors is the fragmentation of their care and the lack of communication and coordination amongst members of their health care team. Patients often need to be their own advocates in such a healthcare setting and for many seniors, it seems disrespectful and tiring to advocate for their own health. A physician, family member or health coach can serve as an advocate, helping seniors make effective health decisions and preventing costly mistakes.
Nutritional Efficiency: The Key To Vitality
Many seniors will often ask me about the latest and greatest anti aging secret. Vitality at any age, especially in seniors, is linked to nutritional efficiency. Finding the right diet that matches each person individually, learning what nutrients are deficient and how the body is utilizing food determines nutritional efficiency. In my practice, we work hard to help seniors learn their nutritional efficiency scores.
Get Along With Your Gut
With more and more research pointing to the digestive system as the foundation for health, paying attention to digestion is important in preventing illnesses and maintaining health. Tracking changes in digestion, increased abdominal bloating or pain and digestive symptoms like reflux, constipation and diarrhea should be investigated aggressively.
Learn Your Biotype
The concept of Biotyping is unique to my practice but can help optimize health individually. Rooted in other systems of medicine, like Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, each person has a unique health fingerprint or biotype that can determine the best diet, exercise and sleep regimen for optimal health. There are about 6 unique biotypes that can help guide seniors to living healthy. These types each have their own unique medical challenges that are often revealed in conventional labs and imaging.
Build Social Support
Many seniors are often isolated, an easy prescription for deteriorating mental health. Recent research has shown that retirement often hastens mental health challenges in seniors, including anxiety, depression and dementia. A strong social support system is critical in keeping seniors happy and healthy. All seniors need continued structure in retirement. At least 1 hour per day should be spent on socialization, while 4-6 hours per week should be spent on projects, volunteer work or religious endeavors.
Boost Your Brain And Pump Your Heart
Exercise and Think- Brain and heart health determine enduring health in seniors. Challenging the brain, by spending 30-45 minutes per day on brain teasers (board games, puzzles, new activities) prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain but keeps the heart healthy as well. Exercise, like diet, should also be varied and consists of 3 different types or workouts that can be interchanged through the week.
Intuition, communication, nutritional efficiency and biotyping should all be a part of a new definition of senior health. Prescriptions that are specific for exercise, socialization and matched diets are also important. Finally, our established preventive tests (colonoscopies, cholesterol screenings, mammograms, paps) should continue.
Dr. Taz MD, Living Healthy Naturally
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