Dr John Ward is a leading Geriatrician from Hunter New England Health, who believes we can all play a role in preparing and partaking in a healthy older age.
We asked Dr Ward his advice for healthy ageing.
“A person’s life course attributes to their health in later years, right back to birth, childhood, early and middle adulthood and mature adulthood. There are many influences on your health over your life’s course including: whether or not you were born and raised in a loving and stable family; the level of education you received; if you maintained a reasonable level of physical fitness and ate sensibly to minimise your risk of obesity. Other factors include your drug and alcohol use, financial security, as well as having fulfilling partnerships, marriage, close friendships, satisfying employment and life long learning to keep your brain active.
For healthy aging and to remain independent it’s important we minimise stress, keep up our physical activity and prevent such things as Sarcopenia (the loss of skeletal muscle mass) and Diabetes. Good health can minimise your need for pharmaceuticals, reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease.”, stated Dr Ward.
Did you know a loss of muscle mass is a major cause of dependency, with the average loss of 1% per year from the age of 50-70 and beyond 70 it increases to 4% each year. Dr Ward stresses he hasn’t come across a single patient he hasn’t been able to provide an exercise program to. Exercise, he says, can prevent and reverse the loss of muscle mass.
“Continuity of care is also vital as you reach older years, find a GP and have regular check ups. Ask them to review your medications every 3-6 months and keep up to date with your vaccinations.”
His advice for living healthier and happier in later years is to not retire prematurely. Remain active and seek out meaningful activities such as satisfying grand-parent duties or volunteering; which can be a wonderful way to give back to your community, provide job satisfaction and friendships. Combine this with maintaining close relationships, regular exercise and living a healthy lifestyle whilst avoiding excess alcohol, smoking and gambling.
CLICK HERE to read more about being Active and Healthy via this NSW Government Health website.