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SAFEGUARDING INDEPENDENCE AS WE AGE Written By: Shemika Mitchell RN, MSN, AGNP-C & Quinta Caylor RN, BSN

SAFEGUARDING INDEPENDENCE AS WE AGE Written By: Shemika Mitchell RN, MSN, AGNP-C & Quinta Caylor RN, BSN

It’s no secret that getting older can bring with it challenges to our independence. Whether it’s declining physical or mental health, the death of a spouse or partner, or simply the mundane tasks of daily living becoming more difficult, aging can threaten our ability to live life on our own terms. But it doesn’t have to be this way! You have the power to age well and stay healthy. The power is in your hands but there are certain measures you need to take to accomplish the goal of aging well. The ultimate goal is to catch issues before they turn into emergencies. There are things we can do to safeguard our independence as we age, ensuring that we can continue to live life on our own terms for as long as possible. Here are six keyways to do just that.


1: Get involved in your community


One of the best ways to safeguard your independence as you age is to get involved in your community. There are many ways to do this, from joining a local seniors’ group or recreation center to volunteering with a local organization. Getting involved in your community can help you stay active and engaged, meet new people, and feel connected to something larger than yourself – all of which can help keep you feel independent and empowered as you age.


2: Make sure your home is “age-friendly”


Another way to safeguard your independence as you age is to make sure your home is “age-friendly.” This means making some simple modifications to your home so that it’s better suited to your needs as you age. For example, installing handrails in the shower or bathtub, adding a ramp to your front steps, or moving your bedroom to the ground floor if you have stairs can help make your home more age-friendly – and help you maintain your independence for longer.


3: Stay mentally and physically active


Staying mentally and physically active is another great way to safeguard your independence as you age. There are many ways to stay active, both mentally and physically, no matter what your age or physical ability. Taking up a new hobby, joining an exercise class, or simply taking a brisk walk around the block every day can help keep you feel independent and empowered as you age. Exercise daily, try for 20 – 30 minutes of heart healthy walking, it is the simplest, least expensive, and most underrated activity to help you strengthen your body system.

4: Eat Nutritiously Dense Foods

Eating Nutritiously Dense foods are beneficial in that they ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs to function appropriately. These are whole foods, Beans, fresh and frozen fruit, and veggies at least 6 combined, Whole grain rice, cereal, and sweet potatoes, etc… Meats like chicken, beef, fish and DRINKING WATER. Know your height, weight, and gender for your daily caloric need.  

5: Have your Annual Wellness Visits

Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) is different from a annual physical exam. An annual wellness visit is a more in-depth group of assessments in addition to a examination, it identifies your current health journey, and gives you a health status report to point you in the right direction for a healthy life, or it compliments your already healthy lifestyle. The purpose of the Annual Wellness Visit is to help you prepare to restore or maintain your health and live a quality driven life. The AWV helps with capturing those quiet issues (like high blood pressure) before they turn in to emergency room problems. Also, an annual wellness visit will point you in the right direction in terms of specialist that may be needed, the annual wellness visits also help you identify all the preventative services that are due and when they are due, for example your colonoscopy. The Annual Wellness Visit can be performed in your home or in the clinic.

6: Get your Labs or Blood Work Annually

When getting your labs or blood work make sure you understand where you are or your past numbers, so that you know where to start. These labs help you do just that. The Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) measures 14 different areas, to name a few your Liver, Kidneys, Pancreas, electrolytes, and nutrient levels are all tested, and it may be prescribed in a number of situations, including to help diagnose and monitor conditions like diabetes and kidney and liver disease. The Complete Blood Count (CBC) is a group of tests that measure the levels of all your blood cells and the characteristic of the blood cells. Because it provides information about every type of cell in the blood, the CBC can provide information related to a wide variety of medical problems. The primary uses for the CBC are diagnosis, monitoring, and screening: Anemia, infection, iron deficiency, bleeding disorders.


No matter what your age, it’s important to take steps to safeguard your independence. By getting involved in your community, making sure your home is “age-friendly,” and staying mentally and physically active, Eating Nutritiously Dense foods, having you a Annual Wellness Visit by a Provider, and Getting your annual labs drawn, you can help maintain your independence for years to come.


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