Category: Healthy Active Ageing

Senior man reading prescription label

 

“The best doctors and medicine in the world can’t save you if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.”

~ Magic Johnson

 

 

Keeping on top of meds

Very few people like taking medications but not taking them can lead to medical problems. Medications fall into three main categories:

Supplements

Whilst not strictly medications, dietary supplements such as vitamins and fish oils are widely used. Much is written about the benefits of supplements but it is important to recognise they have not been tested to pharmaceutical standards. In general, supplements have no deleterious effects on your health as long as you follow the directions on the label, though for any beyond the most widely available, it would be wise to check with a dietitian.

‘Over the Counter’ remedies

These medications are typically taken for the relief of pain or discomfort. They can be very effective as a short term remedy but should not be used to treat long term symptoms without prior consultation with your doctor. As with all medication, read the label before taking.

If you have a symptom, speak to your local pharmacist. They are highly trained and can advise on a suitable medication.

Prescription Medicines

These medicines are prescribed by your doctor and are typically more ‘powerful’ (or expensive) than over the counter medicines and should be taken as prescribed.

 

Here are five top tips to help your doctors to help you.

  1. Always take your medications as prescribed. The label will give details of times and special conditions (such as before a meal).
  2. Always discuss with your doctor any concerns you have about any medications you are taking. It is important to let your doctor know if you have decided, for whatever reason, not to take any of your medications or if you are taking additional over the counter medications.
  3. If your medications are having any effect (either good or bad) make a note so you can tell your doctor the next time you see them.
  4. If you are having a strong reaction call an NHS adviser direct on ‘111’ and they will advise you what to do or to call an ambulance if they think it is that urgent.
  5. If you have difficulty keeping track of your medications ask your pharmacist for your next prescription in blister packs. These are organised so that you pop the right pills out at the right time. There are also electronic pill dispensers that will sound an alarm when you should take your next medication.

The next article in this series explores ‘Managing your weight’.

 


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    Standing on weighing scales blocking readout with feet.

     

     

    “No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means. ”

    ~ Maimonides

     

    Why ideal weight is good for you

    You are likely to live longer, with less time being impacted by health issues. It becomes easier to enjoy life and indulge in activities that bring you joy!

    More specifically maintaining an ideal weight can lead to proven medical benefits.

    If you are overweight reducing your weight is likely to lead to:

    • Improved mobility
    • Improved blood sugar levels and decreased risk of diabetes
    • Lowered blood pressure
    • Improved cholesterol levels
    • Decreased risk of heart disease
    • Lowered risk of certain cancers
    • Reduced joint pain
    • Decreased risk of stroke
    • Reduced back pain
    • Decreased risk, or improvement in symptoms, of osteoarthritis
    • Decreased risk, or improvement in symptoms, of sleep apnoea

    If you are underweight increasing your weight is likely to lead to:

    • Improved energy through decreased risk of malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, or anaemia
    • Decreased risk of osteoporosis
    • Improved immune function

    Enjoying what you eat and drink

    If you choose well what you eat and drink you should be able to enjoy it just as much even if you are trying to gain, lose or maintain weight.

    Find an ideal weight

    In the UK, we have a rule-of-thumb to find the ideal weight range which is called Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a very rough guide and whilst it works well for most people the boundaries are quite broad and it doesn’t work the same for all body types.

    Remember that an ideal BMI for one ethnicity may not be right for another.

    This video www.acticheck.com/bmivideo gives a good overview of why BMI can be a misleading measure.

    We suggest that you search online for an ‘ideal weight calculator’ and explore what the various formulae suggest.

    Pick a target weight, and if you are already there that is great, just make sure to weigh yourself regularly and check that you are not drifting from your target.

    (to be continued)

     


    If you have a critical issue bothering you, click here for some information about what you can do now.


    How to get the latest Health Active Ageing

    If you are looking for some regular handy tips to help keep you shipshape, you have some choices:

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    Food Table Celebration Delicious Party Meal Concept

    “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”

    ~ Virginia Woolf, A room of one’s own

    Further to our previous post here are some rules of thumb to judge your diet against.

    • Eat a wide range of foods
      Ensure that you’re getting a balanced diet and that your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
    • Base your meals on rice, pasta, bread, potatoes and cereals.
      Try to keep it unprocessed by choosing wholegrain varieties – and don’t peel your potatoes.
    • Have lots of fruit and veg
      Try smoothies, augment cereals or porridge with a chopped banana, swap a treat for a piece of fruit.
    • Fish is a generally healthy option
      having a couple of portions of fish a week is good. At least one of these should an ‘oily’ fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, herring or sardines
    • Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
      We are all aware that these are bad for us but you need to be careful about what is in processed food. Sometimes food and drinks have large amounts of sugar that you would not expect . Check everything but especially look out for fruit juices, spaghetti sauces, soups and breakfast cereals.
    • Eat less salt
      Two tips here.
      Firstly try ‘low-salt’, it is a much healthier option when adding salt to food that you are preparing. Most people get on with it very well as a direct replacement for salt but for a small minority it will taste more bitter than salty.
      Secondly, check your processed foods. Pizzas, pasta sauces, table sauces (ketchup, etc) and processed meats can all be culprits but they do have to state the salt content on the label.
    • Drink (mainly water)
      Aim for 6-8 glasses a day and whilst all non-alcoholic drinks help, water is about the best. You should also have no more than 150ml (just under half a drinks can) of juice or smoothie.
      Dehydration, not having enough fluid intake, can lead to confusion and balance issues amongst other symptoms.
    • Get a good cookbook.
      Not everyone likes cooking but there are ways to make food tasty without using so much salt and fat.

    The NHS has a free downloadable ‘Eatwell guide’ at www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/.

    Next are 5 top tips to managing your medication.


    If you have a critical issue bothering you, click here for some information about what you can do now.


    How to get the latest Health Active Ageing

    If you are looking for some regular handy tips to help keep you shipshape, you have some choices:

    1. The simplest is to fill in your details below and click on the ‘Get Healthy Active Ageing’ button
    2. Bookmark our blogs and visit is regularly, you will be able to navigate through all our posts
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    Eating well

    Creative landscape made with assorted organic vegetables.

    “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

       ~  Oscar Wilde

    As with all aspects of this guide bear in mind it is general guidance. If you are aware of an intolerance or allergy, or have taken professional dietary advice that has priority over any of the following.

    Cooking and eating should be a pleasure and not a chore. Consider exploring some of the wide variety of food on offer in supermarkets, local shops and markets, or even from an allotment. The Web is full of recipes you can try.

    Balance is everything

    • Eat a wide range of foods to ensure that you’re getting a balanced diet and that your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
    • Base your meals on rice, pasta, bread, potatoes and cereals. Try to keep it unprocessed by choosing wholegrain varieties and don’t peel your potatoes.
    •  Have lots of fruit and veg, drink smoothies, augment cereals or porridge with a chopped banana, swap a treat for a piece of fruit.

      Here’s a trick to try which might help you to be tempted by some of the things which are better for you.
      1. Sit comfortably.
      2. Close your eyes and imagine your favourite snack just in front of you, easily within reach and think which hand you would naturally pick it up with. Just consider how you see it, anticipate the taste and sensation it will give you.
      3. Now in your other hand picture an item of fruit which you know you should eat but don’t really like. Consider how you see that and how it doesn’t inspire you to want to eat it.
      4. Physically move the hand that you are holding the fruit in around your back and pass your (imaginary) fruit into your other hand.
      5. Put the imaginary fruit down in place of the treat and pick up the treat and take it around your back and place it in the other hand to put it down where the fruit was in the first place.
      6. You might now find that you begin to see the fruit in a new way and it starts to give you the sensations you used to have about the treat. Your treat might become as anodyne as the fruit was to you before.

    If you have a critical issue bothering you, click here for some information about what you can do now.


    How to get the latest Health Active Ageing

    If you are looking for some regular handy tips to help keep you shipshape, you have some choices:

    1. The simplest is to fill in your details below and click on the ‘Get Healthy Active Ageing’ button
    2. Bookmark our blogs and visit is regularly, you will be able to navigate through all our posts
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    In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
    ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Having useful tools to help plan will helpo you to be able to find the words for what you want to do, after all a wise man once said

    “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
    ~ Albert Einstein

    albert einstein. graffiti in st. petersburg russia

    SMART targets help you to make the future more tangible and give a good framework to work too; people use different words to complete the acronym but we suggest using the following.

    Continue reading

    “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”
    ~ Alan Lakein

    Look for win-wins

    Try looking for activities that achieve more than one of your objectives, for instance if you would like to get fitter and to save money, cycling will both improve your fitness and can save on transport costs. Likewise, if you are someone who would like to get fitter and also widen their social circle join a club rather than exercising alone.

    Be curious

    Every stage of our lives offers fresh opportunities. Whilst you might like to revisit old activities, how about exploring new ones?

    Hare at the green forest

    Stretch not stress

    As a guideline look for activities which are going to stretch you in some way but not ones that will be stressful.

    How do you eat an elephant?

    One bite at a time. If what you want ultimately to achieve seems too big, break it into smaller chunks so that each one is manageable.

    Continue reading

    Recording health and wellbeing

    By recording how our health and wellbeing is today we can see the direction (and speed) it is headed in in a few month’s time. Our handy chart is available for you to print out, keep and compare periodically.

    “To get from A to B you have to take the first step, ideally in the right direction.”

    Always compare!

    Compare with where you are now and where you’d like to be to make the most of your journey but try not to compare with others.

    Here are some questions to ask yourself which will help you define where you are now and decide where you’d like to be.

    Be objective, when you can…

    So much of life is subjective but there are some very powerful tools that will help you spot trends to help you remedy a situation before it becomes a crisis. For example

    Continue reading

    (and a handy trick for getting to sleep)

    Rest gives a solid base for both mental and physical health. Though people need differing amounts of rest and sleep it is important that you get enough for your needs.

    “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
    ~ Ernest Hemingway

    In theory you could find that you are sleeping well and have great mental and physical wellbeing without doing much else, but in practice rest is a foundation and some maintenance is likely to be needed on other parts of the structure.

    TIP
    Here is a handy method that you might find useful for getting to sleep:

    Continue reading

    The recipe for wellbeing

    Like all recipes getting the right balance of ingredients is important for wellbeing. You may be limited by the ingredients available, but you can make the best of what you have.

    “I do not stick to rules when cooking. I rely on my imagination.”
    ~ Akshay Kumar

    Aim to be as fit as you can be to meet your life aims, both physically and mentally. For instance if you want to fly jet planes you may need to be at the peak of physical and mental fitness but being able to drive for half an hour won’t need such attention.

    Look after your mental health.

    The Mental Health Foundation found that two out of three people will experience mental health issues during their life, and at any time only around one in eight people score highly on all the positive aspects of mental wellbeing. Sometimes mental ill health may be in part due to behaviour you can easily change but some factors may need external help. This could be as simple as a vitamin D deficiency which is easily remedied or could be more complex.

    Your mental wellbeing is fundamental to your overall wellbeing. It is an area that many people can feel embarrassed about. It may help to think ‘if my best friend told me they had my symptoms, what would I advise them to do’ and then treat yourself how you’d hope they’d treat themselves.


    If you have a critical issue bothering you, click here for some information about what you can do now.


    How to get the latest Health Active Ageing

    If you are looking for some regular handy tips to help keep you shipshape, you have some choices:

    1. The simplest is to fill in your details below and click on the ‘Get Healthy Active Ageing’ button
    2. Bookmark our blogs and visit is regularly, you will be able to navigate through all our posts
    3. Follow us on Facebook

    Continue reading

    Choosing happiness & wellbeing.

    “When we understand the connection between how we live and how long we live, it’s easier to make different choices.”
       ~Dean Ornish

    None of us will be 18 again but there are sensible, practical things you can do to stay safe and active mentally and physically. This series of guides provides some useful tips to help you decide what you would see as improvement and how you could get there. We offer some choice of things you could do so you can face the future happier and healthier by doing things you like. Making plans and tackling some of the things that worry you will help. We point to other resources and organisations which have useful information and offer guidance. And don’t feel you have to try every single thing we suggest.

    This series of guides is about general wellbeing and offers all sorts of advice about how to make you and your circumstances work better.

    Why choosing is important

    Research from the Institute for Ageing at Newcastle University shows that maintaining your levels of independence in the small things helps stops progression into larger problems associated with a steeper and quicker decline. Often the first activity to become difficult is cutting your toenails. If you are having difficulty with this it is probably a sign that at least one of your capabilities is in decline. At this point you have a choice, whether to re-able yourself to cut your toenails or to arrange for ongoing help with toenail maintenance.

    If you successfully ‘re-able’ yourself you may:

    • Live 3 years longer
    • Get another 6.5 years of independent life (measured by whether or not you need help to cook a hot meal)
    • Reduce your final period of dependence from 5.5 years to 2 years.

    With foresight and planning you should be able to prolong the period before any of these problems even emerge. If you already need help with some activities it might be possible to become more able again or at least slow decline. Choosing the right activities could lead a happier life too.


    If you have a critical issue bothering you, click here for some information about what you can do now.


    How to get the latest Health Active Ageing

    If you are looking for some regular handy tips to help keep you shipshape, you have some choices:

    1. The simplest is to fill in your details below and click on the ‘Get Healthy Active Ageing’ button
    2. Bookmark our blogs and visit is regularly, you will be able to navigate through all our posts
    3. Follow us on Facebook

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    If you know something is wrong then please contact an expert immediately.

    Your doctor can help with medical problems, or if you are in an emotional crisis you could contact the Samaritans. You can call them free from any phone on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or you may have a branch near you that you can visit (see www.samaritans.org/branches).

    If the cause of your crisis is feeling overwhelmed by a financial or legal issue then they may suggest a local legal centre or the Citizens Advice Bureau as a good first step to solving your issues.

    There is a Spanish phrase that says ‘Where there is a will, there are many ways’. Just because what you have tried so far has not worked does not mean there is nothing else to try and these people are expert at finding the right solution in a crisis, and they care.