Dear Dr Tola,
My 68 year old mother-in-law lives with us. Without meaning to disrespect her in any way, she always has one health challenge or the other that she complains about. She currently has hypertension, diabetes and she also has chronic pain in both of her knees. After a recent visit to the hospital with her, I have started feeling anxious about my husband’s health and mine too, as we grow older. Is it possible to live into old age without experiencing these diseases?
Sade A, 43
Dear Sade A,
I understand your concerns and I think they are quite valid. Hypertension, diabetes and arthritis have not been called diseases of old age for no reason. They occur more frequently as people grow older. It also has been shown that there is an increased risk if one has parents or siblings who have these diseases. It is also a fact that these diseases reduce the quality of life people get to enjoy in old age.
However, it is possible to live into old age without experiencing any of these diseases as you asked. If you understand how people develop these diseases and take appropriate steps to prevent them. Many times, these diseases are lifestyle-related. What this means is that there are behaviours and ways of living that make us more at risk of these diseases such and I want to make this as practical as possible for you and for every other reader of Virtue Digest:
- Ignorance of your health status and of health news and information. The next time you read a newspaper, do not just read the gossip columns or news column, read health news too, look out for health articles from reputable online sources. Also, take your concerns a step further, schedule a clinic appointment for you and your husband- he will take your history, check your BMI, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc. to know which disease you may currently be at risk of, and what you must do.
- Lack of exercise: regular moderate physical activity should be a part of your daily routine as it is indispensable to maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your blood pressure down. It also does a lot for your mental health.
- Unhealthy diet: because a food is a part of our culture does not make it healthy. Never stop exploring options for a healthier diet for you and your family. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fibre foods and more fish than meat. Limit foods high in saturated fat and salt, this is important to maintaining a normal blood pressure. You may, in fact, need to announce a new and healthier diet in your home.
- Smoking: smoking is dangerous and makes one more likely to have cancers and different cardiovascular diseases.
- Alcohol consumption in excess: Reduce alcohol intake to the barest minimum.
Also, for joints and bone health: get adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D from dairy products, supplements and fish. Regular exercise also helps to maintain bone and muscle strength and delay arthritis.
I have written a rather long reply to your question, ma, but I am far from telling you all that you must do. Please schedule an appointment with your doctor for a check-up. Your doctor will be able to give you advice more suited to your present health state and forestall any disease which might be developing already.
As carefully as we plan for future financial needs, we should carefully plan for optimal health in old age. The more you do in middle age to prepare yourself for successful aging, the better. Eubie Blake, a great musician, said at 99, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d taken better care of myself.”
So, Shade A, take good care of yourself and of your husband, trust GOD and you will be fine.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Dr Tola is a female medical doctor pleased to give you medical advice on women health issues, correct answers to your questions and current information on trending health news. It is however not intended to provide diagnosis and treatment, both of which are frequently inaccurate without a real physical consultation. The author also blogs at toladimeji.wordpress.com.
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