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Seven Conditions That Can be Managed Without Drugs


Older adults should guard against over-medication and talk with their doctor about the best ways to manage their health.  Companionship is one.

 

Q.    As a healthy 75-year-old, I’ve managed without much medication all of my life. My children are always trying to get me to ask my doctors about the newest medications on the market. I think less is more. Am I being unreasonable?  

 

It’s important to check with your doctor first about any medications you should be on. Never stop taking a medication or reduce your dosage without first consulting your physician.

 

The Harvard Health Letter points out that with a disciplined lifestyle, seven of the most common senior conditions can be managed without medications. If you’re interested in learning how to continue to keep your meds to a minimum, here’s how. If you’re thinking of incorporating any of these, please discuss first with your doctor:

 

Arthritis: There’s a good chance that losing weight will make arthritis less painful. Combine weight loss with exercise and you may have less pain and more mobility.

 

Cholesterol: Your LDL level may drop by 5 percent or so if you keep foods high in saturated fat off the menu. Additional soluble fiber may reduce LDL levels as well. So can margarines fortified with sterols.

 

Cognitive decline: Memory training and other “brain exercises” seem to help healthy older people stay sharp.

 

Depression: Studies have shown that regular physical activity can have a potent antidepressant effect.

 

Diabetes: Regular physical activity is a powerful brake on blood sugar levels as well, because exercised muscle becomes more receptive to the insulin that helps it pull sugar in from the bloodstream.

 

High blood pressure: Losing weight, getting more exercise, and eating less sodium all lower blood pressure.

 

Osteoporosis: Weight-bearing exercise puts stress on bones, and bone tissue reacts by getting stronger and denser, fending off osteoporotic processes. Extra vitamin D and calcium top the list of dietary recommendations.

 

Also, don’t discount the importance of companionship to staying healthy. Make sure that you get out often and socialize with friends. You can make a new friend by hiring a CAREGiverSM from Home Instead Senior Care®. The company’s CAREGivers are often seniors like you who could share many of your hobbies and interests.

 

For more information about the Harvard newsletter, log on to

www.health.harvard.edu/health