Whatever a person's age, it is never too early or too late to start making simple changes to improve your health. Although ageing is an inevitable part of the life cycle, many of the illnesses assumed to accompany later life are not inevitable or can be successfully managed.
Where can I find more information about healthy ageing?
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Eat a Healthy Diet
As you grow older you should continue to aim for a healthy balanced diet based on the eatwell plate and try to keep your weight at a healthy level.
Our Healthy Eating pages have lots of advice on eating a balanced diet however here are a few more things to remember.
- Being overweight as you grow older will affect your mobility, which can affect your health and your quality of life which will also increase your risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
- As you age, it's natural to adjust your overall food intake and start eating less because you will become less physically active. If you are eating less because you're finding it more difficult to buy or prepare food or are finding it harder to get around due to a medical condition you should ask you GP for advice on support.
- Sudden weight loss is not healthy and may be an indication either that you are not eating enough food or that you are not well, therefore talk to your GP if you are concerned.
- Make sure you drink plenty of liquids and eat regularly.
- Dental health can affect nutritional health. A regular dental check-up is important whether you have your own teeth or not, to keep your teeth and mouth in good condition. Dental treatment is not free for everyone so make sure you ask about the cost of any treatment, NHS treatment is cheaper than private treatment. Some people may be entitled to help with the cost of treatment. Contact the British Dental Health Foundation for more information.
If you are concerned about your diet or weight, then you should ask your doctor for a check-up. If your GP has concerns about your diet they may refer you to a dietitian, who can give you advice about changing what you eat to meet your needs.
Loook at the eatwell plate for more information on a balanced diet. Go to the British Dietetic Association Food Facts pages for more information.
Go to our Healthy Eating pages for more information on eating healthily.
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There are many health and lifestyle benefits of physical activity - whatever your age! Our Physical Activity pages have lots of information on how to get active in Cardiff.
Regular physical activity will help you:
- improve mobility, balance and muscle strength
- promote an overall sense of well being
- prevent some illnesses
- reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and being hurt in a fall
- reduce stress and alleviate depression
- enjoy activities with family and friends.
Look at our Physical Activity pages more information on how to get and keep active.
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Look After Your Mental Health
It's never too late to improve your mental health and well-being. Some top tips for improving you mental health have been put together as part of the UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Well Being in Later Life. These are:
- 1. Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine:
- Physical activity is good for your mental health. Even more reason to take the dog for a walk, dig the garden, enjoy a dance, or use the stairs instead of the lift.
- 2. Eat a Balanced Diet and Drink Sensibly:
- What you eat and drink can affect how you feel.
- 3. Keep Your Brain Alive:
- Learn something new. "Lifelong learning keeps the mind and spirit alive."
- 4. Maintain a Good "Work"-Life Balance:
- Whether you are in paid or unpaid work (for example as a volunteer), make sure you keep a balance. Take breaks. Ask for help if you need it.
- 5. Keep in Touch with Friends and Loved Ones:
- Close relationships are important for good mental health and well being.
- 6. Do Something for Others:
- Many older people say that volunteering helps them to maintain good mental health and well-being in later life. "The best cure for the blues is activity. Do something - preferably for someone else."
- 7. Plan Ahead and Develop Interests that can Truly be Lifelong:
- "People in their 50s should prepare for old age by developing interests [earlier on] that will be accessible to them as they become older."
- 8. Plan Your Day in Advance:
- Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Many older people say that what helps them to feel good is waking up in the morning and knowing what is planned for the day.
- 9. Claim What You're Entitled To:
- Find out what benefits you are entitled to and make sure you claim them. Up to £4.1 billion in money benefits is failing to reach the pockets of millions of pensioners every year.
- 10. Use Your Voice:
- Challenge discrimination whenever it happens, whether to you or to others.
Have a look at our Mental Health pages for more information.
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Prevent Accidents Around the Home
It is really important to keep an eye out for things that could cause you to slip or trip around the home so that your home is a safer place to live. For example, ensure that there is good lighting, particularly around the stairs; fit handrails to your stairs to make them easier and safer to climb; remember to keep the floor clear of trailing flexes, rucked-up or fraying carpets or anything else you might trip over or slip on. These are just a few ideas. For more information, look at the 'Staying Steady' leaflet produced by Help the Aged.
Care & Repair Cardiff can also provide help to older and/or disabled people to repair and improve their homes to prevent accidents and help people to live as independently as possible. For more information on Care & Repair's services call 029 2047 3337.
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Keep Well This Winter
- 1. Protect Yourself Against Flu:
- Influenza (flu) is not a severe cold; it is a highly contagious viral infection that affects people of all ages. The symptoms start with fever, chills, headache, aching muscles and a cough or other ear, nose or throat conditions. While many people recover without complication within 1 or 2 weeks it can be serious especially in the very young and elderly. Vaccination aims to protect those at risk of serious illness from influenza.
- The flu jab gives 70-80% protection against catching the flu and is free to people over the age of 65 and everyone who suffers from certain illnesses such as diabetes, chronic heart, liver, kidney & chest conditions. As a carer you might also be entitled. You can find out more about receiving the flu jab by contacting your local surgery or NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
- 2. Keep Warm:
- With the cost of energy rising at alarming rates it is becoming increasingly important to take all possible steps to reduce the amount needed to keep warm this winter. The Keep Warm This Winter website will give you lots of tips to keep warm.
- 3. Eat Well over the Winter Months:
- You might be eating less because you're finding it more difficult to buy or prepare food but it's important to eat regularly, at least 3 times a day. Remember you can make a healthy, nutritious meal by using tinned, chilled and frozen ready-prepared ingredients.
Eating a varied balanced diet can help you stay healthy, active and independent. Keep a food cupboard stocked with tins and essentials in case of illness or bad weather. Frozen foods keep well and retain much of their nutrient content. Follow these guidelines to help keep you warm and well:
- Have a good, hearty start to the day with a hot breakast
- Drink plenty of hot drinks throughout the day
- If you don't feel like eating much, try a replacement drink
- Keep a flask full of a hot drink by your bed at night
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Review Your Medication
You are entitled to review your medications with your local pharmacist free of charge. This can help you to maintain your own health and independence. Some pharmacies also offer health checks for all ages (blood pressure checks, blood sampling for diabetes, cholesterol testing etc). For a list of all pharmacists in Cardiff, visit the 'Local Services' section of the Cardiff Local Health Board website. Here you will find a list of pharmacists, GPs, dentists and opticians.
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