Manage Your Health

 

Making certain lifestyle changes, getting screened, and talking to your doctor can greatly improve your quality of life. Use the information below to better manage your health.

Preventive Care

Annual Wellness Visits

Includes personal history, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), preventive screening, and counseling annually

Cancer Screenings

Colorectal Cancer

Colonoscopy at age 50 and then every 10 years, or annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT) plus sigmoidoscopy every five years, or sigmoidoscopy every five years, or double-contrast barium enema every five years

Skin Cancer

Annual total skin exam at discretion of clinician

Breast Cancer (Women)

  • Annual clinical breast exam and monthly self-exam

  • Annual mammogram at discretion of clinician

Cervical Cancer (Women)

Initial Pap test at three years after first sexual intercourse, or by age 21 Pap test every 1-3 years, depending on risk factors

Testicular and Prostate Cancer (Men)

Annual digital rectal exam (DRE) or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test at discretion of clinician

Other Recommended Screenings

Body Mass Index (BMI)

At discretion of clinician (can be screened annually; consult the CDC's growth and BMI charts for weight and eating disorder guidelines)

Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

At every acute/non-acute medical encounter and at least once every two years. See how you can take control of your health and manage your blood pressure with these helpful tips.

Cholesterol

Every five years or more often at discretion of clinician

Diabetes (Type 2)

Every three years, beginning at age 45, or more often and beginning at a younger age at discretion of clinician

Bone Mineral Density (BMD)

BMD testing for all post-menopausal women who have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis fractures

Infectious Disease Screening

Sexually Transmitted Infections (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HPV)

Annual screenings for sexually active patients under 25 and for at-risk patients age 25 and over; HPV vaccine is for women age 26 and under, if not previously vaccinated

Sensory Screenings

Eye Exam for Glaucoma

Every 1-2 years

Hearing and Vision Assessment

At discretion of clinician

Immunizations

Tetanus, Diphtheria (Td)

  • Three doses if not previously immunized

  • Booster every 10 years; one booster during adulthood should be with the adult dTaP (tetanus booster with acellular pertussis) vaccine

Influenza

Annually

Pneumococcal

Once after age 65, even if previously vaccinated

Meningococcal (Meningitis)

One or more doses if not previously immunized, depending on risk factors and other indicators

Varicella (Chicken Pox)

Two doses given at or after age 13 if susceptible


Flu Prevention

How to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Up to 60 percent of hospital stays are for the flu, and up to 90 percent of flu-related deaths happen to people ages 65 and older. The age-related decline of the body’s immune system means you’re more likely to catch the flu and have more serious symptoms, such as pneumonia, respiratory and kidney failure, and inflammation of the heart or brain. Stay healthy by getting vaccinated for the flu, and by practicing good hygiene.

Get a Flu Vaccine

The flu can best be prevented with the current flu vaccine, which is updated annually to closely match the most recent viral strains. The most common method is the flu shot. Vaccinations are covered by Medicare Part B. You can get vaccinated at a number of places, including:

  • Your doctor’s office

  • Limited service clinic (e.g. Minute Clinics®´ at CVS/pharmacy)

  • Urgent care center

  • Nurse practitioner's office

  • Physician assistant's office

  • Specialist's office

  • Home health care provider, such as a visiting nurse1

  • Outpatient department of a hospital

  • Public access clinic offered through a city or town

  • Community health center

Practice Good Hygiene

Whether it's the seasonal flu or the common cold, the best way to stay healthy is to practice good hygiene, which can help reduce the spread of germs. Use these effective methods:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Immediately throw it away, then wash your hands with soap and water.

  • If you don't have a tissue, use the crook of your arm.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and immediately after coming in contact with a sick person.


Chronic Care

What Is Chronic Disease?

A chronic disease is a condition that affects your health and can be controlled but not cured. Examples of chronic diseases include:

  • Allergies

  • Alzheimer's

  • Asthma

  • Breast cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease 

Often patients have more than one chronic disease. The good news is that many chronic diseases can be prevented, and, if you have one, it can be effectively controlled. Please be sure to see your doctor regularly.

 

How Do I Avoid a Chronic Disease?

To avoid a chronic disease or to make one easier to live with, start by making some lifestyle changes:

 

Eliminate all tobacco products

All tobacco products put you at a higher risk for chronic illness. As soon as you stop using tobacco, your body begins to recover from its harmful effects. 

 

Eat a heart-healthy diet

A heart-healthy diet is one that includes 

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Whole grains

  • Non-fat or low-fat dairy products

  • Lean meats

  • Fish

  • Poultry

Try to increase the amount of fiber and nutrients you eat, and limit your fat, calorie, and salt intake to a moderate amount. Nutritionists generally agree that you should get about 30 percent of your calories from fat, preferably unsaturated fats like:

  • Olive

  • Canola

  • Vegetable oils

  • Nuts, seeds, and peanuts

  • If you have dietary restrictions, such as diabetes or low salt, try these tasty recipes.

 

Follow an appropriate exercise program

Exercise can help you prevent or cope with a health challenge. The right exercise program can give you more energy and increases your strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination—plus it can help ease pain and improve your sleep and outlook.

Ask your doctor to help you find an exercise program that's right for you. For specific tips read Exercise Ideas for Older Adults.

 

Learn to manage stress

Stress is part of life. It's our body's way of protecting us from a perceived threat. However, if stress goes on for too long, it can accelerate the aging process. Some ways to cope with stress include:

 

Get enough sleep

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults: seven to nine hours per night, on average, says the National Institute of Aging. If you're having trouble getting enough sleep at night, read about common sleep disorders and talk to you doctor.

 


Fall Prevention

Falls Are Preventable

For many older Americans, a fall can be a life-changing event, resulting in broken bones, pain, depression, and possibly even recuperation in a nursing home.

 

One in Three Will Fall

Did you know that one in three Americans, age 65 or older, will fall down this year? And that the risk of falling increases with age? If you've fallen in the past, you're at higher risk for falling again. For your own health and safety, if you do take a tumble, it's important to inform your doctor.

 

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Medications
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your current list of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines to find out if any increase your risk for falls.

  • Be aware that alcohol interacts with many medications, potentially increasing the negative side effects.

Get Regular Vision Exams
  • Have your eyes examined annually; poor vision can raise your risk for falls.

  • Be sure your eyeglasses are clean, in good repair, and the correct prescription strength.

  • Wear sunglasses to cut down on glare.

 

Make Your Home Safe
  • Remove throw rugs and secure rugs to the floor with double-sided tape and put non-slip mats in the tub and shower.

  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairway and grab bars in the toilet and shower areas.

  • Use extra lighting in dark areas; put nightlights in hallways, stairways, bedrooms, and bathrooms.

  • Move items you frequently use (glasses and plates) to lower shelves in your cabinets.

  • Wear proper-fitting shoes with firm, non-skid soles; avoid loose-fitting slippers and sandals.

 

Get Active
  • Exercise to improve your strength, balance, and overall health. 

  • Ask your doctor about the best type of exercise for your fitness level. Consider weight-bearing exercise, including weight-lifting and walking, as well as yoga or tai chi.

  • Drink water regularly so you don't get dehydrated, which could lead to falling.

  • Visit Keep Moving or call 1-617-624-5972 (TTY: 1-617-624-5992) to learn how you can join an organized walking program for people over age 50.

 

Learn More

Urinary Incontinence

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary Incontinence (UI) is the loss of urine control. Symptoms can vary from slight leakage of urine, to not having any control, or feeling strong urges to urinate. The problem can be short or long-term, and is often caused by other health issues, such as bladder infections. UI is not a normal part of aging, but is more common in older people.

 

Types of Urinary Incontinence:
  • Stress Incontinence—The most common form of incontinence. It occurs when movements such as exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, and lifting heavy objects put pressure on the bladder.

  • Urge Incontinence—When the need to urinate comes on very quickly. Often, not being able to get to a restroom in time. It may be a sign that conditions, like diabetes, stroke, dementia, Parkinson's disease, urinary tract infections, or an overactive bladder need attention.

  • Functional Incontinence—When you have urine control, but can't get to a restroom in time. Sometimes due to conditions, such as arthritis, that make it hard to move.

  • Overflow Incontinence—Small amounts of urine leak due to an over-filled bladder. It may feel like you can't fully empty your bladder.

  • Mixed Incontinence—Having more than one type of urinary incontinence.

 

Causes of Urinary Incontinence in older adults
  • Issues related to certain diseases or medicines

  • Menopause

  • Aging

  • Urinary tract infection

  • An enlarged prostate or treatment of a prostate problem

  • Stool build-up in the bowels

  • Obesity

  • Spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis

  • Overactive bladder

 

Symptoms
  • Pain when filling the bladder or urinating

  • Stream of urine gets weaker and weaker

  • Urinating more often

  • Needing to rush to the restroom or not making it in time

  • Abnormal urination or changes related to stroke, spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis

  • Consistent urine leakage

  • Frequent bladder infections

 

Getting Diagnosed

If you're experiencing any symptoms, talk to your doctor about urinary incontinence. They may refer you to a urologist or urogynecologist that specializes in urinary tract diseases.

 

Types of Treatments

1. Behavioral Therapies to Regain Bladder Control

  • Bladder Training—Teaches you to resist the urge to over-empty your bladder by going to the bathroom too often.

  • Toilet Scheduling—Using a routine or scheduled toileting, habit training schedules, and prompted voiding to empty the bladder every 2 to 4 hours to prevent leaking.

2. Pelvic Muscle Rehab to Prevent Leakage

  • Kegel Exercises—Pelvic exercises can strengthen the bladder muscles to improve, and even prevent, urinary incontinence. Women should perform them 30 to 80 times daily for at least 8 weeks.

  • Biofeedback—Learning how to relax and control stress can help you control your pelvic muscles and body functions. Best results when practiced with Kegel exercises.

  • Vaginal Weight Training—Tighten vaginal muscles using small weights held within the vagina for 15 minutes, twice a day, for 4 to 6 weeks.

  • Electrical Stimulation Therapy—Mild electrical pulses stimulate muscle contractions in the pelvis. Combine with Kegel exercises for best results.

 

Other Treatments
  • Medicine

  • Surgery

  • Diet changes

  • Adult incontinence products (diapers and pads)