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A woman's guide to aging well

Riddle Hospital July 25, 2016 Art of Aging

There are many products and techniques that claim to reverse the clock on aging, from cosmetics lining the aisles of drugstores to the homegrown remedies that your mother and grandmother swear by. But one tried-and-true way to age well? Focusing on your health.

“One of the best ways to age well is to treat our bodies well,” says Trina Bradburd, DO, who specializes in family practice medicine at Riddle Hospital.

Below, Dr. Bradburd explores some of the ways that women can focus on healthy aging.

Know your nutritional needs

For the most part, the foundations of a healthy diet are standard—fruits and veggies, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil, nuts, and avocado. But, as we age, getting the proper nutrients can become a little more complex.

“Some of the most important nutrients for older adults are potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber,” says Dr. Bradburd. “These can help ward off cancers, iron deficiency, heart disease, and osteoporosis.”

Get moving

One of the best things you can do for your health, regardless of age, is exercise. Unfortunately, exercising can become harder to do as we age. Whether it takes a backseat to a busy schedule or gets delayed because of aches and pains, exercise tends to become less of a priority as the years go on.

Don’t let creaky joints or a to-do list delay your routine any longer. Get started with an easy workout routine approved by your doctor or a physical therapist. Low-intensity aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, or biking are a good place to start.

Don’t miss a mammogram

Contrary to popular belief, you’re never too old for a mammogram. As women—and men—continue to live longer lives, it’s important to continue cancer screenings even into your seventies and eighties.

“The risk of breast cancer increases with age,” explains Dr. Bradburd. “Although some women may feel as though it’s safe to discontinue these screenings, it’s recommended to continue mammograms as you age and for as long as your physician recommends.”

Know your gynecology needs

New guidelines dictate that women over 65 can discontinue Pap tests if they have had at least three consecutive negative Pap tests or at least two negative HPV tests within the past 10 years. But if you have a history of cancer, your screening needs may differ and your Ob/Gyn may opt to continue Pap testing.

Regardless of whether or not you should continue Pap testing past age 65, you should continue to visit the Ob/Gyn for an annual pelvic exam, which is an important tool in detecting cancer.

“An annual visit to the gynecologist involves many different components, and it is one of the best ways for us to detect cancers or other abnormalities like ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids,” explains Dr. Bradburd.

Stay connected

As the years go by, it can be easy to fall out of touch with old friends. But next time you’re considering a coffee date or a vacation with a group of girlfriends, consider this: Staying socially active as you age can benefit your mental and physical health.

“Strong friendships and emotional connections can increase your self-confidence, boost your happiness, reduce stress, and give you a sense of purpose,” says Dr. Bradburd. “A happy mind is a healthy mind.”

Find a hobby

Puzzles, reading, running, swimming, crocheting, cooking—whatever your hobby is, pursue it! Learning new things and keeping your mind and body active can help decrease your risk of memory problems later in life.

To keep your brain sharp, try learning something new or taking an advanced-level class of something you’ve already learned.

Although every woman’s health needs are different, there’s one rule that every woman can follow: don’t stop visiting the doctor.

“Keeping your doctor’s appointments is the best way to maintain your health and address any problems before they become serious,” says Dr. Bradburd.

Main Line Health primary care physicians have offices in many convenient locations near the following hospitals and health centers, and other convenient outpatient settings throughout your community. Visit our website to find a Main Line Health primary care physician in your area.