Sunday, April 26, 2015

10 Medical Prep Tips for the Elderly

Having dealt with the elderly and their medical care as well as aging myself, here are some medical prep tips I've learned over the years, useful whether you are teetering on the brink of elderly-ness yourself or taking care of someone who is:

  1. Balance and strength exercises--everything from bowling and yoga to walking and bicycling--will go a long way towards keeping older people from falling (which is the leading cause of injury and death for those over 65).
  2. Eating a nutritious, well-balanced, mostly plant diet will similarly usher you into old age without many of the old age maladies that affect a large segment of the elderly population (obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc).
  3. Get your eyes and ears checked on a regular basis (you often don't realize you are losing your sight and hearing since these things happen so gradually.  You don't want to be the one driving over the neighbor's garbage can--or cat!--because you can't see as well as you used to and you don't want to be the one always saying "what? what?" because everyone's speech is you anyway).
  4. Regularly check your medications for side affects and drug interactions (it's often the SO or caretaker who will notice these things since the side affects can often be cognitive glitches or "odd"symptoms).  Doctors tend to prescribe medications for every single ailment (I saw one lady at the pharmacy last week picking up no less that 30 prescriptions!), unfortunately this often leads to drug interactions or side affects which are then attributed to "being old" or "having a senior moment" when it is really due to some of the meds they are taking.
  5. Become more safety conscious.  When you are 20 years old and climb up to your roof to make a quick repair you will (probably) bounce if you fall off.  If you do this when you are 65 you will probably break into a bunch of small pieces.  Ditto for balancing on the top step of a ladder on a few toes when setting the star atop the Christmas tree or skipping over the third stair because it is wobbly and about to fall through.  The things we did at 25 because our strength, youth, and invincibility allowed us to defy the laws of physics (like racing cars, doing stupid human tricks to impress our friends, etc) are not as forgiving as we get older.
  6. Stay active socially.  Many people dream of the day they will retire.  There is even a segment of the population planning for financial independence/retirement at the ripe old age of 30 or 40.  The thing no one tells you about retirement, however, is that when there are absolutely no demands on your presence or time, you need to make up things to do to stay active or you will wither away in front of your TV in short order.  By keeping active you will be less likely to become socially isolated, depressed, and physically ill.
  7. Prep for the end even if (you hope) the end will be in the far distant future.  Do all of the regular stuff (have a Will, Medical Power of Attorney, and secure retirement income) as well as have contingency plans for long-term care (where will this be at? how will you pay for it?), a plan for what will happen if you can no longer drive safely, a plan for what would happen if your SO should pre-decease you, etc.
  8. Plan for other common disasters that could affect you (how would you evacuate from a disaster area if you no longer drive and can't walk far? how will you get your prescriptions or oxygen tank filled if these services are wiped away in your town? do you have a stockpile of food and water at home in case you are ill temporarily and can't get to the store?).
  9. Trim your decades of personal possessions down to a minimal amount while you are still able to do this yourself (your kids/next of kin will thank you for this) and rather than willing items to your descendants consider giving them these things when you are still alive (which will alleviate a great deal of hate and discontent amongst family members).
  10. Enjoy your old age.  By the time you become old, you have earned the right to: do as you please, date as you please, let others worry about things you had always kept a tight reign on (lest the world fall off its axis), spend your money as you please, and generally let others take up the slack while you enjoy your later years.


  1. I've learned to place my hand on my knee when I bend over to pick things off the floor - less strain on back and knee. My Uncle many years ago threw out his back and has lifetime pain from bending over to pick up a paper clip off the office floor. Down he went, in major pain.

    Move slower and more deliberately. Take the time to move things more gradually, doing 3 trips instead of one. That balance comment is very good advice - broken bones when you are older incapacitate you to the point you may not recover from.

    1. This is a comprehensive list of preparation and I agree to the most part of it. Taking care of your health specially during early part of your life, will help you avoid expensive healthcare cost when you grow old. One of the most important part of your list is the number 7. We need to plan ahead for our retirement or golden years. Though understandably, it is hard to invest on something that we are not sure if we are going to use or not in the future, it is still safe to think and decide that we must get protection against devastating effects of expensive expenses such as health care and long term care costs that we are most likely to experience during that time. One way of protecting yourself is by getting a long term care insurance. Ltc insurance will pay for all your long term care expenses when the need arises. Consider as early a snow, that long term care is not easy as it seems to deal with. It can cause great burden not only to you but also to your family.