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www.ProHealth.com • August 20, 2003


As you grow older, what can you do to maintain your independence Maintaining independence involves planning and action. The most important thing you can do is set goals and plan for the future. If you want to maintain your independence, talk with your doctor about how you can accomplish that. It might just mean purchasing a new pair of glasses so that you're seeing as well as possible. Or it could mean making adjustments to your home to decrease your risk of falling — for example, by removing scatter rugs or increasing lighting. If your needs are greater, it may mean using a cane or walker or asking for help with certain tasks.

One of your most important goals should be maintaining your physical health. Try to:

Exercise and stay active. Set goals for physical activity, even if it's as little as walking 10 minutes a day using a walker. Exercise improves muscle and skeletal strength, which may reduce your risk of falling and help you stay in your home longer. Use assistive devices, such as canes and walkers, if you need to.

Manage chronic health condition(s). If you have chronic health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, set goals to manage your condition(s). Take medications as directed.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you're eating enough food and drinking enough water. Maintain a healthy diet based on a variety of foods. And be sure to get enough rest. Also consider modifying your home and driving habits to create a safer environment and make it easier to accomplish daily tasks.

In addition to setting goals to meet these basic needs, make sure you're connected to other people. Maintain a good network of family and friends. Consider volunteering to remain in touch with the community. Staying connected helps prevent the risk of isolation. I actively encourage people to be involved, to have a purpose for waking up every morning — set goals for what you want to do each day.

(Source: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). www.mayoclinic.com)



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