As you head into your 50s and beyond, your focus starts shifting to healthy aging. Maybe your children have left the nest or you’re looking forward to retirement, making this a great time to focus on your own health. Because you’re at an increased risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, your health and wellness should take priority, letting you get the most out of life in the years to come.
Continue Healthy Habits
Continuing the healthy habits you established when you were younger can help prevent chronic illness from threatening your health. It also helps you maintain mobility as you age. If some of these habits are new for you, be sure to speak with your doctor about how to start them in a safe and effective way:
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Aim for 30 minutes of daily physical activity (talk to your doctor about any limitations)
- Try to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night
- Take 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid daily
- Don’t start smoking or look for help quitting if you already do
- Limit alcohol to one drink or less a day
- Don’t use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike
- Wear a seatbelt in cars
- Don’t text and drive
- Protect yourself from the sun
- See a dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning
If you’re struggling with any of these habits, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your care team at SSM Health is your partner in health.
Understand Your Heart Disease Risk
Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death for women? Many people mistakenly believe that only men are at risk for heart disease, but the reality is that women over 55 are just as likely to develop heart disease. Monitoring your heart health is critical as you age. Talk to your doctor about your risks and then take steps to keep your heart strong: watch what you eat, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke and keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in healthy ranges.
If you’re between 55-79 your doctor may recommend a daily aspirin, which reduces the blood’s ability to clot, helping to prevent heart attack or stroke. Because aspirin increases the risk of bleeding, it’s not a solution for everyone. Speak with your doctor about the best choice for you based on your health history and other risk factors.
Make Time for Regular Wellness Visits
Annual well-woman exams provide you an opportunity to check in on your health and set goals for the year. Because these exams focus on prevention - taking care of your health now to avoid illness later - they are key to your long-term wellness. You may wish to discuss the following topics with your doctor at your annual exam:
- Any menopause symptoms you may have
- Your weight, diet, and physical activity level
- Your tobacco and alcohol use
- Changes in your sleep habits
- Any violence in your life
- Any mental health concerns, like depression or anxiety
- How to prevent falls
- Your family health history
- Who will make health care decisions for you if you are unable to
To get the most out of your well-woman exams, find an SSM Health provider with whom you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing your concerns. Our women’s health team offers expertise and compassion, so you can be confident that you’re getting the care you deserve. And with many convenient locations, we’ll make this important check-up as easy as possible.
Focus on Prevention
Preventive health care aims to help you maintain your health in the years to come and catch any problems early, when they’re easier to treat. Talk to your doctor at your annual exam about what immunizations, tests and health screenings you need. These may include:
- Flu Vaccine
- Pneumonia Vaccine (65+)
- Shingles Vaccine (60+)
- Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
- HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Pap Test and HPV
- Breast Cancer Screening
- Blood pressure and cholesterol
- Osteoporosis (65+)
- Colorectal Cancer Screening (50+)
- Skin Cancer Screening
You may not need every test or vaccine every year, so talk to your doctor about what’s right for you based on your age, your health history and any symptoms or concerns you may have.
While your priorities may change through the years, taking care of your health should always be your first concern. Get started today and schedule an appointment with SSM Health Women’s Health.