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With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People
This book was developed
by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the
National Institutes of Health, to help older people
communicate successfully with their doctors.
Hypothermia: Cold Weather Can be Trouble for Older People
Cold weather can be
risky for anyone, but especially for older people.
Aging and Alcohol Abuse
Anyone at any age can have a drinking problem. Drinking
problems in older people are often neglected by families,
doctors, and the public.
Half of all people age
65 and older have arthritis. There are over 100 different
forms of arthritis and many different symptoms and treatments.
is a symptom, not a disease. It is defined as having
fewer bowel movements than usual, with a long or hard
passing of stools. Older people are more likely than
younger people to have constipation.
Pressure: A Common but Controllable Disease
You may be surprised if your doctor says you
have high blood pressure (HBP) because it does not cause
symptoms and you can have it even though you feel fine.
But HBP is a serious condition that can lead to stroke,
heart disease, kidney failure, and other health problems.
The good news is that there are simple ways to control
Hyperthermia: A Hot
Warm weather and outdoor activity generally go hand
in hand. However, it is important for older people to
take action to avoid the severe health problems often
caused by hot weather. “Hyperthermia” is the general
name given to a variety of heat-related illnesses. The
two most common forms of hyperthermia are heat exhaustion
and heat stroke. Of the two, heat stroke is especially
dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.
Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens
bones to the point where they break easily--especially
bones in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is
called the "silent disease" because you may
not notice any symptoms.
problems are common in men 50 and older. Most can be
treated successfully without harming sexual function.
to new tests that help predict stroke, treatments that
help control high blood pressure, and good health habits
that many Americans are practicing, the death rate from
stroke is down as much as 50 percent since 1970.
Many people with incontinence pull away from their
family and friends. They try to hide the problem from
everyone, even their doctors. The good news is that
in most cases urinary incontinence can be treated and
controlled, if not cured.
and Your Eyes
Did you know that many older people have good eyesight
into their 80’s and beyond? Growing older does not always
mean you see poorly. There
are some easy things to try when these changes happen.
Depression: A Serious
but Treatable Illness
Being "down in the dumps" over a period of time
is not a normal part of growing old. But it is a common
problem, and medical help may be needed. For most people,
depression can be treated successfully. "Talk" therapies,
drugs, or other methods of treatment can ease the pain
of depression. There is no reason to suffer.
Don't Take it Easy - Exercise!
Whether you’re 40 or 60 years old, you can exercise
and improve your health. Physical activity is good for
your heart, mood, and confidence. Exercising has even
helped 80 and 90 year old people living in nursing homes
to grow stronger and more independent. Older people
who become more active--including those with medical
problems--may feel better and have more energy than
Improving the circulation of blood to the feet can
help prevent problems. Disease, years of wear and tear,
ill fitting or poorly designed shoes, poor circulation
to the feet, or improperly trimmed toenails cause many
common foot problems.
Hearing and Older
About one-third of Americans between age 65 and
74 and one-half of those age 85 and older have hearing
problems. They may mistake words in a conversation,
miss musical notes at a concert, or leave a ringing
door bell unanswered.
Some people may not admit they are having trouble hearing.
But, if ignored or untreated, these problems can get
If you have a hearing problem, you can get help.
Science or Science Fiction?
Here are some of the chemicals being studied and
what scientists have learned about them so far.
Explorers once searched for the fountain of youth,
and old legends tell of magic potions that keep people
young. The ancient questions--Why do people grow old?
How can we live longer?--still fascinate people, including
the scientists who study aging (gerontologists). But
their most important question is this: how can people
stay healthy and independent as they grow older?
Pills, Patches, and
Shots: Can Hormones Prevent Aging?
are powerful chemicals that help keep our bodies working
normally. They are made naturally, by the body, and
can affect us in far-reaching ways. Levels of some hormones
decrease as a normal part of aging. In other cases,
the body may fail to make enough of a hormone for other
reasons. In either case, the bodys hormone levels
can be increased by taking hormone supplements
pills, shots, or medicated skin patches.
Sexuality in Later Life
Most older people want and are able to enjoy an
active, satisfying sex life. Regular sexual activity
helps maintain sexual ability. However, over time everyone
may notice a slowing of response. This is part of the
normal aging process.
Skin Care and Aging
Americans spend billions of dollars each year on
"wrinkle" creams, bleaching products to lighten
age spots, and skin lotions to keep skin looking smooth
and healthy. But the simplest and cheapest way to keep
your skin healthier and younger looking is to stay out
of the sun.
Taking Care of Your
Teeth and Mouth
A healthy smile is a bonus at any age. Too often
older people-especially those who wear false teeth (or
dentures)-feel they no longer need dental checkups.
If you haven't learned the basics of oral health care,
it is not too late to start. And even if you have, it's
a good time to review.
Use Them Safely
can be wonderful tools for the care of people of all
ages. Many people over age 65 owe their lives in part
to new and improved medicines and vaccines. But for
older adults, drug use may have risks, especially when
several medicines are used at one time.
It's Worth a Shot
Pneumonia Be Prevented? For some causes of pneumonia,
yes. The pneumococcal vaccine is safe, it works, and
one shot lasts most people up to 10 years. People who
get the vaccine are protected against almost all of
the bacteria that cause pneumococcal pneumonia and other
pneumococcal diseases as well. The shot, which is covered
by Medicare, can be a lifesaver.
Shots for Safety
or immunizations, are not just for infants and children.
Adults also need to be vaccinated from time to time
to be protected against serious infectious diseases.
In fact, some shots are more important for adults than
for children. Every year, thousands of older people
What to Do About the Flu
you have the flu your body's ability to fight off other
infections is lowered and other more serious infections
can occur, especially pneumonia. It is very important
for older people to prevent flu, because treating it
can be harder as people age.
for Later Years
for Long-Term Care
good news is that families have more choices in long-term
care than ever before. Today, services can provide the
needed help while letting you stay active and connected
with family, friends, and neighbors. These services
include home health care, adult day care, and transportation
services for frail seniors as well as foster care, assisted
living and retirement communities, and traditional nursing
though there are risks, do not let a fear of crime stop
you from enjoying life. There are things you can do
to be safer. Be careful and be aware of what goes on
who sell unproven remedies-have been around for years.
You may remember the "snake oil" salesman who traveled
from town to town making amazing claims about his "fabulous"
product. Today's quack is only a little more slick.
Sometimes only money wasted, but it can be a serious
problem if quackery prevents you from seeking professional
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