NYACK, N.Y. -- Nobody likes getting old. However, by taking the right preventative steps and adopting simple lifestyle changes, much can be done to improve the chance of living a long, healthy life.
As people age, recognizing that preventive screening exams are necessary is the first step. "Every day in my practice, I meet people who take much better care of their car than they do of themselves," said Dr. John J. Fitzpatrick, an internist at Highland Medical Clarkstown Medical Associates. "Their car would never pass 3,000 miles without an oil change, but they won’t undergo a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer at age 50."
For example, breast cancer discovered through a mammogram has an extremely high rate of being cured. But if cancer is not discovered until it has grown larger, the cure rate is much lower. Additionally, if colon polyps are discovered and removed through a colonoscopy as recommended by a doctor, the risk of developing colon cancer is extremely low.
"I advise my patients to have periodic health screenings, such as mammograms, bone density measurements and colonoscopies at appropriate intervals," said Fitzpatrick. "I also recommend preventative immunizations and laboratory blood tests to identify areas of concern."
In addition to health screenings, lifestyle choices greatly influence overall health. Participation in a daily physical activity to maintain muscles, joints and the cardiovascular system is important, as is avoiding toxic substances such as tobacco, excessive alcohol and drugs. Making food choices to promote a healthy weight and low cholesterol will also keep the cardiovascular and digestive systems in good shape.
Equally as important as physical attentiveness is mental awareness, said Fitzpatrick. "We must take time to decompress from the stressors of daily life," he said. "This can be done by reading a good book, taking a walk in the woods to reconnect with nature, taking a fishing trip or just sitting on the beach to appreciate the glory of a sunrise. Staying close with our family and friends and reconnecting with those who have become distant provides a sense of warmth, security, satisfaction and love."
Even before hair begins to gray, taking steps to protect ones physical and mental health can pay dividends, and help people live healthy and productive lives well into their golden years.
To learn more about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle as you age, visit Highland Medical's website.