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 bedsuch as listening to calming music,stretching and deep breathing. Talkwith your doctor if you regularly havetrouble sleeping or feel excessivelysleepy during the day.
Nurture a positive relationship with the natural world. Fresh air and sunshine dowonders for the mind and body (remember to wear sunscreen). Our skin turns sunlightinto vitamin D, which protects against a number of illnesses and prevents our bones andteeth from becoming frail. If you don’t get enough vitamin D from the sun or foods youeat, a supplement may help. Health Canada recommends getting 400 international unitsa 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 orsharing stories, find activities you enjoy and do them withfriends 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 ofmedications you take, both prescriptionand over the counter, can have seriousside-effects and increase your chancesof a fall. Review your medicationsand supplements with your doctor orpharmacist.
For a document that helps you trackyour medications, visit myhealth.alberta.ca and search for: medication lists.
Screen for cancer
Early detection of breast, cervicaland colorectal cancers increases thechances for successful treatment.Cervical and colorectal cancers can oftenbe prevented altogether. Pap testingsafeguards against cervical cancer and isrecommended for women 25 and older.The FIT (fecal immunochemical test)home stool test screens for colorectalcancers and is a valuable tool for menand women 50 and older. If you are awoman over age 50, consider havingmammograms every two years as therisk of breast cancer increases with age.Discuss with your doctor your risks forcancer and whether you need earlierscreenings.
Be part of your health
Good health depends on behaviour,environment, genes and socialconnections. Healthcare is only onepiece of this much larger puzzle. Themore you participate in your health andhealthcare, the more likely you are tobe satisfied with your care. Prepare forappointments; draft a list of medications;and think ahead about what questionsyou’d like to ask. You are your bestadvocate. Think about other ways youcan improve your health and hatch aplan to get there.