Let’s Talk About Medical Alertness
I know when you hear the words ‘medical alert’ your first thoughts are of bracelets with little medical symbols on them or the necklaces and watches some people wear which are alarm button to press (which sends a response team) in case of a medical emergency. Both are correct. Both are great resources when used correctly, and have saved millions of lives. But these things are not the only ways to be ‘medically alert’. And since there are plenty of commercials and ads for these types of products, I’m going to focus on something else which I believe is of equal value to seniors on this matter. I want to take a few paragraphs to remind and encourage every senior or caregiver for a senior to become more medically alert from a preventative perspective.
Listen to your body. It turns out that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Or in this case, the prevention often cures the ‘ailment’ of not giving seniors the ability to age in place. Statistics and research prove it. Seniors who are proactive in caring for themselves have a much greater chance of maintaining their independence and mobility than those who don’t.
Seniors who move about daily move better, longer, and safer. It’s the same principle that applies to cars that aren’t driven and houses that aren’t lived in. These things deteriorate at a faster rate than when they are used and enjoyed. So do we.
Listening to your body also involves paying attention to not-so-little little things. Things like persistent or regular headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss, hair loss (especially women), inability to take a deep breath, shaky hands, changes in skin, bumps and bruises that don’t go away, or anything else that is unusual for you. Being medically alert to these things will prolong your life in quality and quantity. Ignoring these things won’t make them go away or less real. It only makes them worse and potentially fatal.
Fuel your body properly. You know the realities of eating a healthy diet vs. not, so there’s no reason to belabor this fact. Just do it.
Stay in shape. Walking, flexing, stretching, swimming, playing golf, tennis, skiing, pickle ball, yoga, low-impact aerobics and weightlifting, spinning or bike riding…all of these things are great ways for seniors to get their exercise and stay in shape. Yes, a few things on this list are contingent of a senior’s age and agility, but retirement from your job doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up skiing, jogging, or things of that nature. As your body ages, though, your bones and muscles age with you (deteriorate), so be medically alert to your body’s needs and limitations and adjust your level of activity accordingly. You will find as you age that moving slower isn’t a bad thing—that moving slower allows you to move longer. Longer as in time intervals and longer as in years.
Assess your surroundings. As a senior, you can maintain a high level of medical alertness by assessing your surroundings. What assessments should you be making?
- What fall hazards are present and what measures should I take to eliminate them?
- Will my quality of life and standard of living improve if I downsize?
- What do I want out of my senior years? Travel? Honing skills for my hobby? More time with the grandkids? Pursing a second career of sorts, doing something I enjoy? Volunteering my time and talents to ministries and nonprofits?
- What do I need to do to my house to make it more age-in-place friendly?
- Which relationships do I need to nurture, and which ones need to go?
- What am I worrying about? What will eliminate the worries, and why aren’t I taking these steps?
This is a short list of things every senior should ask themselves…and then answer to be medically alert. Assessing and addressing these issues will keep you physically, emotionally, and mentally healthier.
Be part of a team. We are relational by nature. It’s instinctive. Yes, some are more social than others, but we all need someone. A few someone’s actually. Jennie Allen wrote the book, “Find Your People”. In the book she shares some well-researched data on what we need when it comes to friends…a community…a tribe, or whatever you want to call it. She reports that fundamentally, we have room for fifty people in our lives that we can be close to. But more than that, we need to have five within five. Five people within five miles of us whom we can count on to share life with.
I want to say that having these five within five is especially important for seniors. It is smart from medically alert perspective. You can check on each other, break each other’s lonely silence, socialize with each other, exercise together, share holidays together when family cannot be present, and all sorts of other things family and friends do with and for one another. There is a certain level of comfort and confidence that comes from knowing someone will notice if you aren’t around, don’t answer your phone, get the newspaper off the porch, and things like that. Having those people AND being one of those people for someone else is just the right and smart thing to do.
Declutter your mind. Distractions are dangerous. Distracted driving leads to wrecks. Distracted hearts lead to failed marriages. Distracted thoughts lead to poor decisions. Being distracted by our surroundings can lead to falls and other types of accidents. But when you declutter your mind by focusing on the task at hand (whatever that may be), you automatically become more medically alert. Worrying about things beyond your control is the biggest culprit for cluttering your mind. I know it’s true because well, just because. But when or if you will train yourself and give yourself the grace to stop worrying over things you have no control over and take positive actions to correct the things you can control, you will find your mind is less cluttered with junk. And by clearing out the junk you automatically make room for things that matter. Things like making memories with your kids and grandkids, staying current and knowledgeable on subjects that interest you, and on maintaining your health.
Guest post By Darla Noble
The views expressed by the author may not reflect the views of Age Safe America, LLC. The content here should not be taken as medical, legal or financial advice. The content here is for informational purposes only, and because each person is so unique, please consult your own healthcare, legal or financial professional with any questions.