Looking after your general health:
Everyone around you can support each other to maintain good health and wellbeing. Making sure you’re in general good health is important to ensure you have a good quality of life to do the things you love in life. There are lots of things you can do to look after your general health such as:
Keeping up to date with your vaccinations is really important to ensure that you have protection from common diseases such as flu. Every winter you will receive a letter from your doctor requesting that you visit for your free flu vaccination. Getting the flu is not only dangerous for you, but could also be very dangerous for vulnerable people in the community. Keeping yourself up to date with your vaccinations is one of the best decisions you can make for your health. A full NHS vaccination schedule can be found here.
Attend an NHS Health Check when you are invited to go by your doctor as they can check to see your overall health status, and provide support for any long term conditions you might have. More information about NHS health checks can be found here or by talking to your GP.
Checking your medication regularly with a healthcare professional can make sure that you are taking the right doses for you and check if you still need to take the medication for your condition. If you feel like your medication is not working or is making you feel poorly, book in to speak to your GP.
Bladder and bowel problems are not always a part of ageing, and you shouldn’t have to put up with these issues alone. If you notice that you’re using the toilet more frequently or you’re often ‘caught short’ it might be worth taking a trip to your GP to discuss your symptoms and get assessed for any help. Some tips that can help with bowel and bladder issues include:
- Drink normally – try and drink around 6-8 glasses of water a day (including hot drinks). Drinking less will make bladder issues worse so make sure you’re fully hydrated. Advice around drinking more can be found here.
- If you notice that caffeinated drinks make your symptoms worse try to cut down on these drinks.
- Check to see if any of your medication is making your bladder issues worse with your GP.
Looking after your mental wellbeing:
Good mental health is important to having a good quality of life. Being socially active is highly important for good mental health. If you have any friends, why not pop out for a cup of tea in a café or get involved in the local community by volunteering your time? Volunteer opportunities can be found here. There are plenty of community groups that you can get involved in to ensure you are remaining socially active. If you struggle to get out and about, learn to love technology by using it to keep in touch with family and friends. Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with everyone that is important to you. Click here for hints and tips about how to stay safe online when using social media, as well as banking services. Local support to improve your mental wellbeing can be found here.
Keeping your brain active and sharp can avoid mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Looking after your brain can be as easy as doing the crossword from the newspaper, or learning a new language. This also includes being socially active with friends and family, and staying active in the community.
If you find that you are struggling to recall basic everyday information or conversations you’ve just had, you could be suffering from memory loss. Occasional memory loss is annoying, however if it is affecting your daily life you should seek help and support from your GP.
Looking after your eye health:
Your eyes should last a lifetime, however as you grow older eyes are more susceptible to conditions that can affect how they allow you to see. Regular eye tests at the optician can help to keep your eyesight the best that it can possibly be and can provide insight into your overall health by diagnosing diabetes and high blood pressure. Some opticians offer a mobile eye test which is currently free on the NHS. Help with booking an eye test or getting your eye test for free can be found here. You can keep your eyes healthy by:
- Not smoking. Help to stop smoking can be found here.
- Eating lots of fruit and vegetables.
- Protecting your eyes by wearing sunglasses for protection against the sun.
Looking after your oral health:
Keeping good oral health is important to ensure that you don’t have any pain or discomfort when eating as well as being able to talk and socialise without feeling embarrassed. If you have your own teeth or dentures it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene by seeing your dentist regularly to check teeth, gums, and the fit of your dentures. Some tips to keep good oral hygiene include:
- Reducing the amount of sugary food you are consuming. This can also help to avoid other long term conditions such as high blood pressure.
- Use fluoride toothpaste to clean your teeth to avoid tooth decay.
- Spit after brushing your teeth and do not use mouthwash immediately after as this will wash away the fluoride in the toothpaste.
- Avoid smoking if possible as this can increase the risk of mouth cancer and cause tooth decay.
- Keep hydrated and avoid having a dry mouth as this can encourage tooth decay.
Looking after your feet:
Your feet have been your companions for life, getting you from A to B every day. Looking after your feet is very important to keep mobile and active in the community. Looking after your feet is also important if you have any long term conditions such as diabetes. Painful and uncomfortable feet are not a natural part of growing old and should be looked into. A lot can be done to improve comfort and relieve pain when on your feet such as:
- Washing your feet often.
- Keeping your toenails clipped. If you have trouble with this, Age UK can provide you with details to a local chiropodist service.
- Keep warm by wearing stockings or shoes.
- Choose comfortable, practical footwear. Footwear that adjusts according to your foot shape are great if your feet swell during the day as they provide support regardless of your foot shape and size.
Advice on looking after your feet in older age can be found here.
Keeping active in older age does not mean going for a long run! It can simply mean ensuring you are not sitting down all the time and instead, if possible, standing up. Keep active by taking regular walks around the garden or the street, doing chair-based activities if you have restricted mobility, and playing bowls. This can also be a great step to improving your mental health and wellbeing. Strength and balance exercises are great to test your mobility and help to be stronger for longer. Many local groups for older people have an element of keeping active in their group activities and can provide people to chat to while you’re keeping active. You can find local groups to get involved in here. Activities which promote bone and muscle work outs are great to prevent falls and improve your mobility. Exercises to improve your bone density can be found here.
Keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer:
Keeping warm can help to prevent colds and coughs, and more importantly conditions such as pneumonia, depression, and heart attacks. Keeping warm and well can be as easy as wearing light layers of clothing, as well as making sure you’re drinking hot drinks and eating hot meals throughout the day. Other ways to keep warm and well include:
- Keeping your bedroom window closed at night as the temperature usually drops at night. Keeping your window closed can also avoid getting chest infections from the breeze.
- Make sure you keep your home to a minimum room temperature of 18°c. If heating your home is too expensive for you to afford, only heat the rooms you will use the most such as the living room and your bedroom. If you need help paying for heating costs, Age UK can provide support and guidance when making a claim for help with heating costs.
Be aware of the weather, especially in the winter months! It can get slippery, especially if it’s icy or snowing. Give yourself plenty of time to be prepared by ensuring you have enough food and drink in in case you can’t get out. Order repeat prescriptions at your pharmacist in advance and talk to your pharmacist if you’re feeling under the weather from the temperature dropping. Make sure you have hand rails to support you if you have steps at your front and back door. It’s also important to have mats down near these places to ensure that you do not slip.
Let’s not forget the summer months too! Make sure you keep hydrated by having 6-8 glasses of water every day and avoid getting too much exposure in the sun as this can increase your risk of skin cancer. If you are planning on going outside, make sure you apply a good sun cream (at least 4 UVA star rating) and carry this around with you. Keep blinds and curtains drawn at home if it’s an especially warm day and keep windows closed to avoid hot air entering your home.
Attend any screening invitations sent to you by post:
Health screening is really important to check for any early signs or symptoms that could lead to a long term condition in the future. You will get invited to go for various screening sessions such as lung screening, breast and cervical screening if you’re a female, and prostate screening if you’re a male. Some screening tests are sent in the post such as bowel screening kits. Being checked over could potentially save your life. Information on screening can be found here, including checking to see if you are eligible.
Adapting your home environment to be fit for a lifetime:
It’s really important that you are comfortable and safe living at home as you age. If you find you’re struggling to get around your home, some simple adaptions such as the installation of a stairlift or a handrail could be useful to ensure you can get around your home with ease. You can also get an intercom for the front door if its difficult to access and chair lifts to ensure you’re supported and steady when getting up from your seat. Some helpful tips on adapting your home can be found here. You can also get help with the costs of adapting your home. Advice about this can be found here. Technology can also be useful to provide safety in your home. You may be eligible for assessment for a personal alarm or a fall detector from your Local Authority. Information about this can be found here. Tameside specific information about this service can be found here.