Keeping seniors healthy – tips from a geriatrician

June 2017 marks the 33rd annual Seniors’ Month. This year the theme is “Living Your Best Life”. In honour of the theme, Dr Raza Naqvi, a geriatrician at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) answers questions and offers tips that help seniors maintain their health and wellness, so they can live their best life.

Q. What can seniors do to stay healthy every day?

A. Stay active, eat healthy, and socialize! There is very strong evidence that shows us clearly that remaining physically active is a key component to maintaining strong brain and general health for seniors as we age. A variety of physical exercises have proven useful so the key is to stay active any way you can. Keeping your mind active through any sort of active brain exercises (crosswords, Sudoku, board games, etc.) has also been shown to work wonders for maintaining brain health as we age. Eating well and socializing have tons of benefits for seniors as well and are key components to staying healthy.

Q. What can family members to help seniors stay healthy?

A. Spend time with your loved ones regularly – this has both socializing benefits and also allows you to keep an eye out for any changes in their health that they might not realize. If you notice something doesn’t seem right, get them to their family doctor as soon as possible. It’s often very helpful to have a family member at doctor’s appointment to have a second set of ears.

Q. Can you provide some tips for seniors on preventing falls?

A. Every fall is different and there are many factors that may contribute to a fall. Checking one’s environment for potential safety hazards is an important first step – loose rugs, cords, or clutter can be significant risk factors. Proper footwear is key – shoes or slippers that don’t fit well or are worn out can increase the risk of falls. We also need to make sure our medications are reviewed regularly by our doctors to ensure they continue to be more helpful than harmful as we age.

Q. What is the best way to for seniors to manage their medications?

A. The first step is to make sure you are taking what you are supposed to be according to your doctor(s). Seeing your pharmacist for a medication review is a great way to do this – be sure to take in all bottles, packages, and over-the-counter products. If you are on several medications, ask your pharmacist about having the pharmacy prepare your medications weekly (blister pack) or use a weekly organizer yourself. It is also important to review whether you still need all of your medications or are missing any important ones with your family doctor. This should be done yearly or any time any major medical event occurs.

MSH is hosting a seniors’ fair on June 20, 2017. The event will be held in the hospital’s lower link lobby from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm. Seniors, their family members, and MSH staff are all invited to the event to learn about products and services available to seniors in the community as well as meet the MSH team that works with elderly patients.

By Yeena Peng, Senior Corporate Communications Specialist, Markham Stouffville Hospital
Photo cutline: Dr Raza Naqvi, Geriatrician, and Katie Turkington, Nurse Practitioner, Geriatric Medicine and Seniors’ Health Clinic, are two of the members of the Markham Stouffville Hospital team that work closely with our eldest patients.

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