By adopting a healthy lifestyle, your risk of disease in older age declines dramatically. Small changes in your daily lifestyle can improve how you feel and delay the need long-term care. Here is a checklist that outlines what you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle that could help you delay the need for long-term care.
Regular physical activity
Regular physical activity helps to control weight and contributes to healthy bones, muscles and joints. Exercise can reduce falls and help to relieve the pain of arthritis.
Physical activity reduces symptoms of depression and stress, improves the brain and can even reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Regular mental activity
Simple and fun activities such as:
Adopting a new hobby
Attending a class
Doing crossword puzzles
Playing cards and board games
are great ways to keep you mentally healthy and exercised. They are also quality ways to spend time with your family and friends.
Eating well is especially important as you age. Good nutrition reduces your chances of developing chronic diseases. As you age, you may need to adjust your diet and nutritional needs.
Other ways to stay healthy
Avoid falling: Falls are one of the most common causes of the need for long-term care.
Avoid isolation: Get together with friends or family, participate in community events, join social or religious organizations, volunteer, continue to work or return to work part-time.
Manage medications: Managing your medications safely keeps you aware of what you are taking and possible drug interactions. Make a list of all your medications, when you take them, the condition for which you take them and have regular medication check-ups with your doctor.
Not smoking: Reducing or quitting smoking is an important part of your plan to stay healthy. Smoking is one of the largest contributors to the development of chronic disease and is a major factor in high health care costs.
What's your likelihood of needing long-term care? While no one knows for sure, a simple quiz about your family, health history and other unique factors might tell you a lot about your risk of needing long-term care. Take the Minnesota quiz.
We know it makes sense to talk to your family about long-term care before the need arises. Talking about aging, finances and health can be awkward as these are personal and complex topics.
Putting a plan in place before a crisis occurs can help make sure your long-term care choices are known, understood and respected.
Talk to your loved ones
A long-term care plan begins by having honest conversations with those closest to you. Finding out where you agree or disagree on long-term care issues will help guide future decisions and planning.
When you talk with your family, share your concerns and preferences about:
Any medical history that may be important in making decisions
How you want your care needs met
Where you want to live
Talk with family and friends about whether they would want to or be able to care for you if you are unable to care for yourself over a long period on time. Your discussions can provide the foundation of your long-term care plan.
If your family is not comfortable talking about your long-term care needs, acknowledge their feelings, share your reasons for concern and try again later.