Most of New Hampshire, like the rest of the world, has been staying home since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago. This means many people have missed regular doctors’ appointments and screenings, and maybe developed some unhealthy habits. For our senior population, now that we have vaccines available and the weather is getting warmer, there are a lot of opportunities to improve or maintain your health.
With three COVID-19 vaccines now on the market, anyone 16 and up can get vaccinated and there are many more locations and time slots available. So if you haven’t yet gotten vaccinated, it’s important to do so.
Call 211 if you need help scheduling an appointment. The older population is most at risk for serious illness or death with COVID-19, and the vaccines have been proven safe by numerous healthcare oversight organizations around the world.
Once vaccinated, it’s still important to wear your mask and practice good hand hygiene when in public and even with your family. If you have health issues that put you at higher risk, you may want to hold off on seeing your grandchildren until everyone in the family is vaccinated.
Get outside, get social
Spring is finally here, and there are so many good reasons to get outside. If you have spent a lot of time alone over the winter, now is the time to safely resume social visits with friends and neighbors by sitting outside together. Isolation has been linked to dementia, so social visits are an important part of staying healthy.
Warm weather means the opportunity to exercise. Try to get outside every day, even if it’s just a 10-minute walk.
The combination of fresh air, change of scenery and sun is good for mental health, and exercise can help your joints and circulation, improve your energy, lower blood pressure and prevent osteoporosis. If you walk with a friend, you get exercise and a social visit at the same time.
Get your checkup
Many people have delayed their regular doctor checkups or health screenings during the past year. Now is the time to get those scheduled to maintain good health and catch any health problems such as cancer or diabetes
. Healthcare providers have gone to great lengths to put safety measures in place at doctors’ offices and hospitals, so you can feel comfortable knowing it’s safe to go in.
Some appointments can be done by telehealth,
but it’s important to get regular exams. Your primary care provider
will monitor your blood pressure and do bloodwork, and review your medications to be sure you are on the most appropriate dosages and are not taking medications that interact negatively with each other. For women, it’s also important to get annual mammograms and bone density scans to check for osteoporosis. For men, check with your doctor about the most appropriate prostate screening based on your health history.
The risk of falling increases as we age, and along with it, the risk of a serious injury such as a broken hip. Your doctor can check your blood pressure and blood sugar and let you know if you should adjust your medications. If your home has become cluttered this past year, move anything that you might trip over. If you go for walks alone in the woods or an unpopulated area, take a cell phone or tell someone where you are going. Life Alerts or Apple watches are other good ways to get help if you have a fall.
We are all excited to start to safely get back to some normalcy. Make sure you also get back to your doctors so you can live your healthiest life.
Gabrielle Phaneuf, DO
, is a primary care doctor with Core Physicians in Epping
. For more information, please call 603-658-2344.