9Get enough sleep Poor sleep is abnormal at any age. Older adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night (and a regular nap is fine, too). When you are well rested, you have better attention and memory and feel better overall. If you’re having sleepless nights or difficulty falling asleep, try using relaxation techniques before bed
such as listening to calming music,
stretching and deep breathing. Talk
with your doctor if you regularly have
trouble sleeping or feel excessively
sleepy during the day.
Nurture a positive relationship with the natural world. Fresh air and sunshine do
wonders for the mind and body (remember to wear sunscreen). Our skin turns sunlight
into vitamin D, which protects against a number of illnesses and prevents our bones and
teeth from becoming frail. If you don’t get enough vitamin D from the sun or foods you
eat, a supplement may help. Health Canada recommends getting 400 international units
a day if you’re under 70 years old and 800 IU if you’re over 70. When you’re outside,
you’re also naturally more active. Take advantage of Alberta’s great outdoors for walking,
hiking, gardening, biking or birdwatching.
Do what you enjoy
And do it with a friend. Whether it’s dancing, bowling or
sharing stories, find activities you enjoy and do them with
friends and family. You can also seek out community groups.
Alberta has clubs for everything from horseshoes to horses.
Feeling connected to people can equate to a better quality of life.
Review your meds
The type, number and combination of
medications you take, both prescription
and over the counter, can have serious
side-effects and increase your chances
of a fall. Review your medications
and supplements with your doctor or
For a document that helps you track
your medications, visit myhealth.alberta.
ca and search for: medication lists.
Screen for cancer
Early detection of breast, cervical
and colorectal cancers increases the
chances for successful treatment.
Cervical and colorectal cancers can often
be prevented altogether. Pap testing
safeguards against cervical cancer and is
recommended for women 25 and older.
The FIT (fecal immunochemical test)
home stool test screens for colorectal
cancers and is a valuable tool for men
and women 50 and older. If you are a
woman over age 50, consider having
mammograms every two years as the
risk of breast cancer increases with age.
Discuss with your doctor your risks for
cancer and whether you need earlier
Be part of your health
Good health depends on behaviour,
environment, genes and social
connections. Healthcare is only one
piece of this much larger puzzle. The
more you participate in your health and
healthcare, the more likely you are to
be satisfied with your care. Prepare for
appointments; draft a list of medications;
and think ahead about what questions
you’d like to ask. You are your best
advocate. Think about other ways you
can improve your health and hatch a
plan to get there.