This article isn’t going to say another word about your diet, weight, exercising more or your Blood Pressure. There are enough people talking about those things. I’m going to share with you several changes you can make that require very little effort to help make your life happier and healthier, no matter how old you are.
The first thing is waking up in the morning with a smile. We all have a choice when we wake up. Am I going to be grumpy or am I going to be happy today? It takes more energy to be a grouch than to be happy.
Infection Control and Hygiene
One of the primary ways to remain healthy is to practice good Hand Hygiene. This includes use of hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Our hands are in contact with some really nasty creatures. Think of the money, door knobs, phones, grocery carts, light switches etc. that you have touched. Hand sanitizer should be used throughout the day. I recommend stashing bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout your home & car for ease of use. Frequent cleaning of above-mentioned items with chlorine antimicrobial wipes is also recommended. Don’t forget to wash your hands before you eat, always!
Get your Wellness Screenings. This generally includes a physical once a year with your Internist or primary care provider. She/he will generally run lab tests, maybe an x-ray, a mammogram and possibly other types of diagnostic screening. Most insurances and Medicare cover these at 100% or at a higher rate than they cover regular office visits and tests. Finally, they have recognized that it makes more sense to do these types of screening to identify and treat problems early before they become out of control or worse.
Get your vaccines. It’s been scientifically proven that vaccines work to prevent the spread of highly contagious diseases and they do not make you ill. Talk to your primary care provider and keep your vaccines current. The three “biggies” include seasonal flu, Shingles for adults over age 50, and Pneumococcal for adults over age 65 and adults with risk conditions.
Getting enough sleep is very important, but also challenging. It gets harder with age, sometimes due to the fact that our metabolism slows and we don’t get much activity. If you increase your activity throughout the day, then you usually sleep better at night. Increase your activity so you are tired when you get ready for bed at night. Whenever I need a project to wear me out and make me sleep better, I clean out a closet. In my house, that’ll do it! If it’s nice outside, go for a walk. Get out and get moving, volunteer somewhere and find THE cause that needs you.
Finally, smile more. A smile goes a long way in your interactions throughout your day. You can even feel that smile through a telephone connection. Even in situations that may have to become confrontational, start out congenial. Many times it can be resolved without someone getting upset. That’s so much better than generating those negative emotions and the corresponding physical effects to your body when you get angry.
I hope these recommendations are helpful and you are able to find something that will help you feel better and happier from today forward.
Kristin Reed, RN
Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association