Older, Wiser, and Healthier: Keys to Aging Gracefully
Americans are living longer, but how can they live healthier? Family Medicine Physician Dantuluri P. Raju, M.D., has almost 50 years of medical experience and has been practicing in the Ocala area since 1980. He specializes in geriatric issues and says longer life expectancies mean you need to do everything you can to stay healthier, longer.
“Stay active, stay active, stay active,” emphasizes Dr. Raju. “Physical activity is the cure for old age.” He clarifies that staying active doesn’t mean going to the gym five days a week, but even mild to moderate activity, like walking and stretching can make a real difference in your overall health as you age.
Beyond physical activity and, of course, a healthy diet, Dr. Raju says his patients who socialize and regularly interact with family and friends are much less likely to develop the depression that is often associated with aging.
“People who stay active and stay connected are the healthiest, no question,” he admits. “When you isolate, you’re more likely to have mood disorders.”
Older adults are at an increased risk for depression, according to the CDC, and mental health is connected to your physical and social well-being. In fact, the agency reports that depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer) or whose function becomes limited.
Dr. Raju also reveals an often-overlooked health risk for the older population. “I always ask my patients what they think is going to kill them? They usually say, ‘heart attack, cancer, maybe stroke,’” he shares. “They never say falling.” Falls are, in fact, the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide, but can be easily prevented. The first step should be to ask your physician to evaluate your risk of falling and discuss specific things you can do to prevent it.
The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to nearly double by 2060.
This larger, healthier aging population can benefit from establishing a strong, trusting relationship with their primary-care doctor. “My job is to improve their quality of life,” explains Dr. Raju. “As primary-care physicians, the better we know our patients, the earlier we can intervene and improve their quality of life.”
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