Fitness is important at every age, but especially so as we get older. As we age, we begin losing muscle strength and become more prone to falls. Around 1 in 3 adults over 65 currently have at least one fall a year. Depending on the severity of the injury, one fall can greatly impact independence. The Hampshire County Council website has more information about preventing falls.
By engaging in regular, low-impact exercise you can reduce muscle loss and stave off disease. Try daily walks, water aerobics, a round of golf or tai chi.
As we get older, routine check-ups are critical to maintaining your long-term health and independence. Appointments help your doctor to detect and address any issues. They also give you the opportunity to ask any questions and to make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to stay active and well.
Learning what is normal for you and detecting subtle changes in your daily activities may help you identify and address problems before they become a major issue. You may be able to minimise or even reverse some of the changes you experience including reduced mobility, visual problems, bladder and bowel control, and hearing loss.
See also our health and wellbeing advice for help with specific issues such as incontinence, drinking, smoking and weight management.
NHS online tests, tools and apps
NHS Health checks
If you are between 40 and 74, make sure you go along to your NHS Health Check when you are invited.
Many pharmacies and gyms have ‘Wellness kiosks’ where you can check your blood pressure and weight.
Make sure you get your annual flu jab – especially if you are over 65, have certain medical conditions or are a carer.
Most of us become a little more forgetful as we get older but it is not inevitable and there are things you can do to stay alert.
Physical exercise is a great route to take for better brain health, as it improves the flow of blood to your brain. Older people who regularly undertake moderate exercise have a 36 per cent lower risk of cognitive impairment than those who do not.
If you are not able to do any physical exercise, then there are other ways for you to keep your brain engaged. You could read a book, complete a jigsaw or crossword, play a game of chess, learn a new skill or language. Here are four easy activities you could do every day to strengthen brain function:
If you are worried about memory loss, you may want to read our information about dementia.
It sounds obvious but having a balanced diet is crucial for good health and energy and to prevent illness.
There are lots of cheap and tasty ways you and your family can eat well every day. The One You website has tips on cutting out sugar, salt and how to eat well, for less. You can also find out more about healthy eating on the NHS website and visit change4life to get ideas aimed at helping you to lead a healthier life.
Losing weight is not a natural part of getting older and undernutrition can lead to illness. Age UK have produced a Healthy eating guide which you can print.
If you, or someone you are caring for, is losing weight and you are concerned, you should speak to your GP. Your local pharmacist may also be able to give you some advice.
BAPEN have developed a simple online self-screening tool you can use along with advice to follow if you are at risk of becoming malnourished.
You are more prone to foot problems as you get older so it is very important to take care of your feet. See the advice from Age UK .
Depending on where you live and any conditions you have (such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis), it may be possible to have routine podiatry (also known as chiropody) treatment on the NHS. You should speak to your GP about this.
If you do not qualify for free treatment, you can search for a podiatrist (chiropodist) in your area on the College of Podiatry website or telephone 0207 234 8620.
Some community organisations, such as Age UK, offer foot care and toenail cutting services.
If you want to stay independent at home, you will want to ensure that your home is secure, safe and easy to move around by yourself. Simple adjustments such as installing hand rails on the walls or changes in the bathroom, such as a wet room, can make a huge difference.
The NHS has useful advice about removing trip hazards in your home to prevent falls.
Sometimes the best support system can be a group of good friends.
Whether you are new to the area or looking for people who share the same interests as you, there are hundreds of groups, classes and activities where you can meet new people and make friends.
Find information to help you get out and about.
If you are unable to get out, you can still keep in touch with people.
If you have spent most of your adult life working or raising a family (or both), retirement can sometimes feel a little slow. It can take time to adjust to the change of pace.
One of the best ways to ease this transition – and to make new friends and do something rewarding – is to volunteer in your community.
The internet provides new ways to stay in touch with people and to access information:
Help for beginners to get online
Find more computer help in our community directory.
Hampshire Superfast Broadband - If your property is not included in the current superfast broadband programme and you can only access a speed of 2Mbps or less, there is a government scheme in place to help you access better broadband.
AskSARA is an online information tool which guides you through questionnaires and gives you free, expert, personalised advice written by occupational therapists and equipment experts.
It covers a wide range of topics, including products and ideas to help with physical and mental health, carrying out tasks around the home and getting out and about. It also covers obtaining funding and assistance in purchasing equipment and carrying out home adaptations.
Advice is available without the need to register or provide any personal details.
You may already use email, social media and instant messaging to stay engaged with family and friends. But have you explored technology which can make life easier?
There is a vast range of monitoring and alert equipment that can help to support you to remain independent in your own home and even when you are out in the community. This is also sometimes known as ‘telecare’.
If you have invested in WiFi connection, there is a huge range of apps available, to use on smartphones or tablets, which can help you. For example:
You could also use a ‘virtual assistant’ like Amazon Alexa. You can download the app and use it on your phone or tablet, or even with a separate speaker. You can then ask it questions, get it to set reminders, play your favourite music and much more.
Smart home devices
Smart technology can help you improve your home environment in a variety of ways.
For example, you could consider investing in wireless thermostats, lighting and security systems that connect to your smartphone through easy-to-use apps. With a few taps on your touch screen, you can check the locks, turn on the lights and adjust the temperature from miles away.
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Page Reference: Top tips for staying independent