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Wellness Tips for Older Clients

Posted: June 18, 2010

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Know the low-down on sleep in later life. Contrary to popular belief, older people don't need less sleep than younger adults. Most need at least seven or eight hours of shut-eye a night. If you're getting that much and are still sleepy during the day, see your health care professional. You may have a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea stop breathing briefly, but repeatedly, while sleeping. Among other things, untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of developing heart disease.

Flatten your (virtual) opponent, sharpen your mind. Conquering your adversary in a complex computer game, joining a discussion club, learning a new language, and engaging in social give-and-take with other people can all help keep the brain sharp, studies suggest.

Get a medications check. When clients visit their health care professional, advise them to bring either all of the prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements they take, or a complete list that notes the names of each, the doses they take, and how often they take them. Ask your health care provider to review everything you brought or put on your list. He or she should make sure they're safe for to take, and that they don't interact in harmful ways. The older a person is, and the more medicines they take, the more likely they are to experience medication side effects, even from drugs bought over-the-counter.

Speak up when you feel down or anxious. Roughly one in five older adults suffers from depression or anxiety. Lingering sadness, tiredness, loss of appetite or pleasure from things you once enjoyed, difficultly sleeping, worry, irritability, and wanting to be alone much of the time can all be signs that you need help. Tell your health care professional right away. There are many good treatments for these problems.

Get your shots. They're not just for kids! Must-have vaccines for seniors include those that protect against pneumonia, tetanus/diphtheria, shingles and the flu, which kills thousands of older adults in the United States every year.