Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: Health is wealth

A great deal of the information that I’ve read about the aging process points to the mid-70s and beyond as the time we might develop challenging health conditions.

I’m one of those who recently reached this age arena and want to do all I can to enjoy this last quartile of existence on this planet. It has become clear that our health needs change and become more complicated as we get older. We may have been lucky enough to arrive at 75 without much medical attention but according to the “Health in Aging” website we should look at what professionals call “The 5 Ms of Geriatrics.”

The first “M” is for “mind.” We must maintain mental activity. This is why it is so important to exercise the aging mind. Read those newspapers, do those crossword puzzles, engage in stimulating conversation, spend time in the library, watch Jeopardy.

It’s important to stay alert and get involved. Don’t get depressed or feel sorry for yourself because  you might be alone at times.

Take charge and tackle each day as a blessing and another opportunity to enjoy and meet the challenges of your environment.

Another necessary “M” is mobility.The ability to walk and maintain balance is very important particularly for maintaining our independence. And by keeping up our mobility, we work on preventing falls and other types of common injuries. 

And living on our rural Island the ability to drive is very necessary for mobility. Keeping up with our physical coordination and our vision and hearing needs can keep us on the road. That’s why it’s so necessary to participate in the AARP Safe Driving Course. Call the Senior Center at 631-749-1059 to enroll. 

The next “M” stands for medications. Experts agree that older adults should talk to their doctors about reducing “polypharmacy.” That’s the term for taking several medications. It may be time to evaluate all the medications you are taking and look at treatments exactly for an older person’s needs. At this time try to build an awareness of the harmful effects of medications.

The “M” of multi-complexity helps older adults focus on managing a variety of health conditions. It’s not all that rare to experience high blood pressure, arthritic joints, aching teeth and vision and hearing problems at the same time. How you attack these assaults on your quality of life will determine how you retain a good quality of life. 

Make sure that your living conditions keep up with your infirmities — update your home’s lighting, install grab bars where they are needed. The Senior Center can help with these changes.

The final “M” is working on what matters most. This includes coordinating advance care planning and helping manage the goals of that care. Even though we don’t need it now, we should try to look at the future and try to have a plan in place for the time that we need extra care. We do not want to be a burden on our loved ones.

It might be wise to consult with a geriatric health care professional as a strategy to be prepared for impairment and frailty.

On another subject, if you live alone and would like to be on the Senior Center call list, let the center know (631-749-1059) and you’ll get a check-in call each day.