To encourage you to get or stay healthy, your physician will tell you to eat right, exercise, stop smoking (if you do) and cut down on your alcohol intake.  But for older adults, these things are even more important, says Kristin A. Keskey, MD, internal medicine practitioner at St. Joesph Mercy Oakland.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITYRichmond Olympics 2012

For older adults, Dr. Keskey recommends physical activity their bodies can handle.  “The best activity is walking, 30 minutes a day,” she says.  She adds that chair and water exercise and lifting 3- to 5-pound weights for upper body strength and bone health also are beneficial.

“Physical activity is helpful for the heart, lungs and blood pressure and aids in weight loss,” she explains.  “Any muscle strengthening will help you get out of bed or a chair and reduce falls.  Mental functioning is improved with physical exercise.  It’s also a stress reliever.”

And physical activity brings a social benefit.  “Seniors who exercise with other people feel less isolation and depression, which leads to a general feeling of well-being,” says Dr. Keskey.  However, she cautions that before starting any exercise program or if you have barriers to exercise –  such as arthritis or balance, vision or orthopedic problems – you should consult your doctor.

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Just as important as physical health is mental health.  Dr. Keskey recommends activities such as reading, playing card or board games, learning a new language and doing puzzles for keeping your mind sharp.



“Seniors don’t absorb as many vitamins as younger people, so it’s important to focus on nutrition for seniors,” Dr. Keskey says.  An older adult’s diet should include:

  • Fruits and vegetablesMonroe Food Service
  • Three to four servings of calcium-containing foods per day
  • Plenty of fiber  (like brown rice and whole grains)
  • Low-fat milk and proteins
  • Whole foods, rather than processed foods
  • Vitamin D

Seniors also should reduce their sodium intake because it can cause high blood pressure and edema (fluid retention).  Drinking plenty of water can prevent dehydration and flush toxins from your body.


If you’re an older adult, Dr. Keskey advises you to eat a healthy diet, stay active, get immunized and have regular health screenings.  And don’t forget an annual physical, which is now allowed by Medicare.

Seniors should get a flu shot and pneumococcal vaccine and, at appropriate intervals, get screenings such as a colonoscopy, a mammogram or prostate cancer screening.  A shingles vaccination also is recommended.  Have your doctor review your blood pressure and cholesterol as well.

You can be healthy at any age,” says Dr. Keskey.  “It takes effort, focus and information.”

This article was originally published in Michigan Medical Report from the Physicians at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.



One response to this post.

  1. So simple and yet many believe they must follow a special formula to get healthier. Just using common sense is so much more cost effective too – without spending so much $$ on “diet” programs. Great post!


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