7 Tips for Staying Healthy as You Age

You know the old adage that “age is just a number?” While that may be true, living a healthy lifestyle helps offset the effects of aging. The physicians of Gaston Medical Partners are here to remind you of ways to keep your body (and mind!) in tip-top shape:

1. Be Active

We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again–staying active is key to staying healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that physical activity can help delay, prevent or manage any chronic conditions in adults ages 50 and older. And yet 28% of these adults are not active, which equates to 31 million people. Even if you cannot meet the recommended weekly guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, any amount of movement is helpful, and you can always work to incorporate more activity into your daily life. Small steps like taking a walk or push-mowing the yard absolutely pay off and there are plenty of ways to be active at home if the COVID-19 pandemic has changed your previous fitness routine.

2. Eat Right

Another of those adages is “you are what you eat.” But in all seriousness, what you put into your body as fuel plays a role in your overall health. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting food high in saturated fats and salt and instead choosing lean proteins, high fibers, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables for cardiovascular health. Even when on the go, our doctors have shared the ways they snack healthy between meals. It’s also important to note that alcoholic beverages should be consumed within moderation (no more than two a day for men and one a day for women).

3. Lose Bad Habits

If you haven’t already, there is no time like the present to give up using tobacco. You will find that stopping smoking gives you more energy and helps you breathe easier. Your body will begin to heal itself from the effects of smoking beginning within just 20 minutes of your last cigarette and you will reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help in making this important change and discuss options with your doctor.

4. Stay Connected 

If we have learned anything from this current pandemic, it’s how much we miss the normalcy of having a regular social life. Maintaining your social connections with friends and family helps prevent feeling isolated and can lower your overall stress levels. Besides making you feel bad, stress hormones can cause inflammation and contribute to arthritis and diabetes.

5. Don’t Forget Preventative Care

Regular preventative care (think recommended health screenings and annual physicals) help address any healthcare concerns and changes and better the odds of treatment and recovery. Having an established relationship with your doctor will ensure that you have someone dedicated to your healthcare needs who knows your specific medical history and can best advise you in both sickness and health. And you’ll be sure that you’re up-to-date with your vaccines as well.

6. Keep Your Mind Sharp

It’s normal for your brain to change as you age but remember that you can exercise your brain while exercising your body (back to tip one about being active!). The Mayo Clinic reports that physical activity works the part of your brain that creates and stores memories, called the hippocampus. The other thing we think about as we grow older is developing memory issues. Dementia is a disease that affects memory and thinking but this is not a normal part of the aging process. If you find yourself or a loved one struggling to remember, speak to your primary care provider.

7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. The amount and quality of sleep you get impacts your overall health. Being sleep deprived can make you feel tired and sluggish both mentally and physically, but sleep impacts even more than that. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to other risks from obesity and high blood pressure to stroke and type 2 diabetes. By establishing good sleep hygiene practices, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

We want our golden years to live up to their name. By incorporating these seven tips into your lifestyle and talking with your primary care physician about your overall plan, you can stay on the right track to aging gracefully.

How to Get a Flu Shot in Gaston County

As summer’s sweltering days transition to cooler weather, we begin to think about the changing of the season. However, fall isn’t the only season we’re entering. Flu season is just around the corner.

The best way to prevent getting the flu is to be vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive the seasonal flu vaccine unless certain health conditions indicate otherwise. 

As part of our ongoing dedication to keeping the residents of Gaston County healthy, Gaston Medical Partners will hold three flu clinics from 10 AM – 2 PM on the following dates:

  • Saturday, September 19, 2020
  • Saturday, September 26, 2020
  • Saturday, October 3, 2020

Do I need to make an appointment?

While walk-up appointments during flu shot clinics are an option, we highly recommend making an appointment by calling 704-800-4268. Beyond the three flu shot clinic dates, it is also possible to get a flu vaccination via walk-in or by making an appointment for a nurse visit.

Do I need to be a Gaston Medical Partners patient?

If you are not a Gaston Medical Partners patient and do not have a primary care provider, we recommend making an appointment for an annual physical. During this exam, your doctor will address all your health needs, including your flu shot, and other vaccinations we need throughout our lives.

I’ve never had the flu vaccine before. Why is it so important now?

While getting your flu vaccine is important every year, it is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic. We learned earlier in the pandemic that it is possible to be infected with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Reducing instances of the flu not only keeps you and our community healthy, but it keeps our healthcare system from becoming overburdened, and resources like personal protective equipment (PPE) from being depleted. 

How do you know if you have the flu or COVID-19?

The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses and have similar symptoms. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell which may be responsible for symptoms without testing. If you have symptoms, it’s important to call Gaston Medical Partners at 704-800-4268 so we can help recommend the best next step, from a virtual visit with a physician to a testing appointment.