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STAYING HEALTHY AS WE AGE

Johns Creek Family Medicine Recommends Exercise and  Eating a Balanced Diet As key Activities to Manage Aging Well

Johns Creek Family Medicine Recommends Exercise and Eating a Balanced Diet As Key Activities to Manage Aging Well

Change is inevitable as we age, and at any age change is difficult to handle. However, it is particularly challenging for adults as we hit the mid-century mark and beyond, due to the multitude of transitions and transformation that transpire. Think about it – as we age our parents age and often we become the care-givers; our children grow up and move away; physically our bodies may begin to decline and health concerns change; our lifelong career paths may come to an end or morph into something different; we must deal with the loss of parents, friends, and other loved ones, we may even lose our self-sufficiency.

Balancing these changes with positive actions can provide the blueprint for healthy aging. That means reinventing yourself as the years go by to adapt to, accept, and maximize your potential during the aging process. Staying physically and mentally active, and visiting Johns Creek Family Medicine when health concerns arise is a key component in a positive future.

There are many myths associated with the aging process that aren’t true with a positive approach to aging. What are they and how do we dispel them?

MYTH: Aging means declining health and/or disability.

Fact: There are some diseases that become more common as we age, and there are physical changes we cannot stop. However, getting older does not automatically mean poor health, physical disability, or just plain feeling blah every day. Plenty of older adults enjoy vigorous health, often better than many younger people. Preventive measures like healthy eating, exercising, and managing stress can help reduce the risk of chronic disease or injuries later in life, and slow the onset of physical changes.

MYTH: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Fact: Learning is a process that doesn’t simply stop because a person hits a certain number on a timeline. One does not suddenly become unable to try new experiences or creatively contribute anymore. Actually, it is just the opposite. True, there may be some physical limitations, but older adults are actually quite open to learn new things and thrive in new environments. And at this point in life, they have experienced quite a bit, and have gained the wisdom of life experience. It all comes down to faith and confidence in yourself in order to establish a positive environment for change – no matter what the numbers say on your license.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Aging Gracefully

Taking care of your body has immense benefits that contribute towards so many key elements of quality lifestyle, including: increasing your activity levels, sharpening your memory, boosting your immune system, managing health problems, and increasing your energy. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how out of shape you are, or what unhealthy habits you indulged in the past, you can start feeling better than ever when you make more of an effort to be healthy. Dr. Charkawi has a special interest in geriatric medicine, and he recommends special attention to exercise and diet to start your evolution into a graceful ager:

Exercise:

Exercise is vital for staying healthy throughout life. Exercise has so many positive benefits for the body: it helps you maintain your strength and agility (reducing potential for falls); promotes a healthy weight; boosts your mental health; strengthens your cardiovascular system, and has even been known to diminish levels of chronic pain. Yet so many adults don’t exercise as they get older – they may not have even exercised when they were younger – which makes it harder to get motivated. Regardless of your current physical condition, even if you are coping with an ongoing injury, disability, or health problem, regular exercise has been shown to improve confidence and outlook on life. What to do? Start with these tips.

  • Schedule an appointment with Dr. Charkawi before starting your exercise program.
  • Find a physical activity you like, in an environment that motivates you to continue. Group, alone, in water, on land, a sport, a club. Whatever gets you going!
  • Start slow and build up time expended and intensity of exercise on a daily basis.
  • Walk!! Walk!! Walk!! If you have no specific physical limitations to walking, as Nike quotes “Just Do It”. You don’t have to join a gym and start a muscle building routine. Just a simple walking movement is a great way to exercise – it’s free, you can do it anywhere (in a mall, on a greenway, around the neighborhood, in the supermarket, at the park, with the dog…), you already know how to do it, and you don’t need equipment except for good walking shoes.

Eating Well:

Some of us lament about how we used to eat a plate of pasta with garlic bread and dessert and not gain weight. Others lament that they could gain weight just looking at that combination on a menu. Everyone is different. One thing that affects most of us as we age though, is that our hormones and metabolisms change, and our bodies follow suit. Women in particular often experience the dreaded 10 “menopounds”. Our relationship to food changes – foods we once loved may no longer smell or taste like they used to, our digestion may slow down, our appetites increase or decrease, we may crave different types of foods than when we were younger, or certain foods may just plain disagree with us. Medications may wreak havoc on everything food. These tips can help ensure eating healthy to maintain energy and overall health.

  • Include high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.
  • Food should look appetizing and taste good. Even if food lacks the “zing” it used to, you still need calories to maintain your energy and bodily function. But if you spend time planning, preparing, and serving your food to its best advantage, eating can be enjoyable.
  • Watch out for dehydration – it can affect your mental acuity and energy level.
  • Make meals a social event when possible. Try not to eat meals alone, standing over the kitchen sink. It’s more enjoyable to eat with others than alone – and you end up eating less too.

Dr. Charkawi provides exceptional care to prevent, diagnose, and treat the health problems and special needs of older adults. He treats a wide variety of diseases and conditions as well as the social issues and functional decline that aging adults often experience. To stay healthy as you age, make an appointment to visit Johns Creek Family Medicine in Johns Creek, serving the North Fulton, South Forsyth, Gwinnett County and Atlanta metro communities.

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