Suggestions For Seniors About Staying Healthy 
By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor: San Diego State University

Posted June 02, 2016; updated October 23, 2021  Disclaimer

This article focuses on health problems of seniors and summarizes how you, as a senior, can stay healthy, safe and live longer. This article has suggestions to help seniors do a better job of managing their life.

Limitations of this article

Although intended for seniors, the contents of this article have merit for all age groups.

The section on food and nutrition [ e.g. "whole plant food" ] is of minimum content because this is such a vast topic that covering it would require extended space, beyond the scope of this article.

Several other health issues like heart disease, diabetes and cancer have been deferred at this time.

Documentation has been omitted to make the writing style simple and easy to understand.  References-documentation for various topics can be found at web-site:

Well-being or health means different things to different people. Medical doctors often interpret health differently from their patients. In the process of doing so, interpretations get complicated when we try to explain the health of seniors. What is good health and how can seniors maintain good health?

senior bpWith seniors, quality of well-being is perceived as being relevant to their age and functionality. Their health has been gradually declining since early adulthood at different rates; although many medical doctors do not perceive such decline to be a health indicator.

As we age, our body and life change.  If you do not get sick, then you do not need a doctor or visit a hospital nor need to doctor yourself!  We all can grow old gracefully, stay healthy and live safely.  The suggestions that follow should be part of your bag of tricks to stay well.

Learn to self-doctor yourself: Your grandma did it without expensive, fancy drugs and so can you. Medical doctors are good to have as a back-up. But you can use your 'common sense' to prevent getting sick.  This is self-doctoring. 

hand helloThere are many ways to self-doctor:

    apple prevention  Do not shake hands as a welcome when meeting others. The palm of your hands and that of your greeter are loaded with dangerous bacteria. Instead touch each other's knuckles or elbows as a welcome.
    apple prevention  Eat a balanced variety of foods to bolster your immunity!
    apple prevention  Self-healing is about learning to listen to your body, then interpret and understand what your body is trying to tell you.
    apple prevention  Listen to your body
    apple prevention  Perceive symptoms as sensory messengers, as cries for help from your body. Learn to recognize symptoms like fever, pain and inflammation as your body attempting to heal itself. If you are hurting and in pain, you need to slow down, stop moving and rest. Your body will automatically immobilize the injured part of the body.  Give your body a chance .... time to heal.
    apple prevention  Take a first aid class and become certified as a first aider.  The first aid class will show you how to treat minor wounds and what to do in emergencies.
    apple prevention  Have Lugol's iodine, hydrogen peroxide, nano-colloidal silver solution, and/or rubbing alcohol on hand to disinfect minor scratches and wounds.
    apple prevention  Be prepared to learn the rest of your life: Improve your skill-sets but live within your skills. Continue to update your information, for what you learned in college is outdated when you graduated. Be aware what you can and cannot do. "Do not bite off more than you can chew!" This is recognizing your limitations and it should be part of self-doctoring. Be aware that you have greater chance of being successful when you do what you have skill-sets to do.

Taking pain killers is not listening to your body.  Pain killer medication kills the sensory messages your body is sending you! 

You should not need to run to the doctor or emergency room to treat every ailment.

The key to doctoring yourself is learning how to prevent getting sick and avoid accidents. Much of self-doctoring is using your common sense! Helping yourself to stay healthy can lower the cost of your health care insurance coverage and save you money.

Avoid accidents: Most accidents can be prevented by better planning and awareness. For example, many seniors have a fragile or delicate sense of balance. That is, they are not as quick or agile as they once were and can quickly lose their balance and fall. Maintaining your balance is vital to avoid falling and getting hurt. How? Here are a few simple suggestions that do work:

    1orange  get out of bed slowly and then sit up for about 10 seconds. This sit and wait allows the blood to redistribute to the brain and avoid feeling dizzy, possibly faint and falling.
    1orange  make sure you have good bright light so you can see and also help your balance.
    1orange  walk slowly with short steps; allowing your body to adjust its balance when moving.
    1orange  stop, look and listen before crossing a street.
    1orange  use crosswalks to cross a street.
    1orange  wear shoes that do not have slippery soles.
    1orange  use a cane or walker if you feel insecure without one.
    1orange  get rid of loose carpets and rugs.
    1orange  clear clutter in hallways and walkways.
    1orange  use a hand rail to help balance you when going up or down stairs.

Stay safe: You need to stay safe by:

    1orange Avoiding contact with persons who may be infected with germs:
      1orange stay away from sick persons who cough, sneeze or have running noses
      1orange minimize visiting public places like shopping malls
      1orange avoid visiting hospitals and doctor offices
    1orange Medications:  Avoid taking wrong medications. Make a routine for when and where to take your medications and supplements. Place them in a special place.  Then have a special time each day to take them.
    1orange  Know what you have the skill to do. Doing what you do not have the skill(s) for can cause an accident.
    1orange  Plan ahead and leave early so you do not need to rush!
    1orange  Accidents happen for many reasons: poor planning, recklessness, not paying attention, not knowing your limitations, lack of common sense and so on. Accidents can be prevented!
    1orange  Plan ahead and leave early so you do not need to rush!
    1orange Driving a car:
      1orange Do you really need to drive?: Many seniors view being able to drive a car as a measure of independence.  As you age, you need to consider your physical limitations and make any necessary changes. You should give up driving a car when your lack of driving skill endangers the lives of others and you as well.
      1orange Stay safe by not driving if you can.  This may mean asking for a ride from your friend, neighbor or relative. Learning to live without driving should be a thrilling challenge that you can do it and it can be fun.
      1orange Driving safely: You can improve driver safety by driving during the daytime, in good weather, on quiet roads and in familiar areas. If visibility is poor, consider delaying your trip or using public transportation. Beyond road conditions, make sure you're in optimal condition to drive. Never use your cell phone while driving. Don't drive if you're tired or angry — and never drive after drinking alcohol or when taking medication.
    1orange Home security means safeguarding against burglars.  Make sure you keep locks on all doors and windows.
    1orange  Smoke detectors: Make sure these are working.

hand_washingPersonal hygiene:

    1orange Always wash your hands and face with soap and water after meeting people or coming home from a visit. Wash hands for about 15 seconds .... the longer soap contact time, the better chance of removing germs.
    1orange Blow your nose out; your nose filters out the air and germs.
    1orange  Take a shower every day if possible. We seniors give off natural "elder odors" that are offensive to others and taking a shower once a day or at least every other day helps to keep these odors under control.

These simple measures minimize the risk of getting sick and can prevent you catching a cold or the flu' and may be better prevention than a vaccine.

food fruits_grains_vegs Food is your best medicine: It was the father of Greek medicine, Hippocrates who said that:" Food is your best medicine!" We need to eat a variety of foods rich in vegetables, seeds, grains, nuts and white meat that contain protein, fat, complex carbohydrates and fiber that contain nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids [proteins] that are essential for the body to function properly.

Indeed, some nutrients appear to be more important than other nutrients. For example, magnesium and vitamin D both act like on/off switches to regulate over 500 body functions.

Whole plant foods have the nutrients in proper ratio balance that, when ingested regularly, can provide a better and safer healing process than medications and drugs. For example, Vitamin D from sunlight or vitamin D-3 in adequate supplement amounts, can bolster the immune system to act as a super vaccine. Another advantage of whole plant food as your best medicine is that foods usually have the essential co-factors or helpers that can work together as a healing process and help maintain body functions.

Ingesting vitamin-mineral-protein supplements that are of plant origin:  It is difficult to eat a good diet today as foods are grown on soils that are deficient in minerals [burned out soils].  Such deficient soils do not grow quality plant food.  You may need to add vitamin-mineral nutrient supplements to your diet to compensate for plant food deficiencies.  Unfortunately, most nutritional supplements are synthetic and are not recognized by the body as nutrients.  Instead, they are recognized as toxins; synthetic supplements are not absorbed by the body. Instead, you need to ingest plant based supplements in order to provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients like magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, organic sulfur, boron, iodine, vitamin B-complex, vitamins A, E, K, 12 and amino acids [proteins].

Claims have been made for two seaweed supplements, spirulina and chlorella, that both are rich in a balance of nutrients that bolster immunity and may provide a good vitamin-mineral balance.  Both are available in tablet form, are safe to use and could compete with commercial nutrient supplements.

Eating: Eat fresh whole plant foods, seed plants, beans, fresh fruits and nuts. Avoid sweets, processed foods and red meat. Avoid eating in restaurants and convenience foods, for you really do not know what is inside the food that is prepared. Cook your own food instead of ordering 'take out' food. You have more control of what you eat by preparing it yourself. Making your own food gives you the satisfaction of controlling your own destiny. 

ALERT:  There is a food-eating vacuum in our culture.  Several essential nutrients, namely organic sulfur, boron, and iodine, are recognized as essential to life but are being ignored by nutrition and health experts.  Possible deficiencies of these nutrients may be contributing to health problems.

If you have difficulty preparing your own food, you can call "Meals on Wheels" to have them deliver meals to your home. 

Water: Water is essential for life and is more important than food.  Drink lots of pure water to flush out the toxins and keep your kidneys healthy. Here is a guide:

    bubble water1  drink 1 to 2 glasses of water before breakfast; then wait 30 or more minutes before eating breakfast. This wait allows the water to be absorbed quickly and flush out toxins.
    bubble water1  To determine how much water you need each day, divide your body weight in half. e.g. person weighing 160 pounds would need to drink about 80 ounces or 8 glasses of water per day.

The amount of water a person needs to drink depends on the size of the person and surrounding environment.

Chlorination & Fluoridation:  [And environmental toxins] Many public water systems chlorinate their drinking water supply to kill germs and provide safe drinking water. In doing so, there is enough chlorine residual in water pipes to continue killing dangerous bacteria. While this slight excess of chlorine may help control bacteria in water mains and pipes, it is bad for your health when it comes out as tap water in your home. Why? The chlorine neutralizes the iodine in food and other sources, making you deficient in iodine, an essential nutrient!

So what can you do about the chlorine in tap drinking water? The chlorine in water is very unstable. There are three things you can do to get rid of chlorine in drinking water at your home:

    1orange  squeeze some lime or lemon juice into a glass of water, stir it and the juice will instantly neutralize the chlorine.
    1orange  boil the water and drive off the chlorine in 3 to 5 minutes; cool the water and then drink it.
    1orange  pour tap water into a clean empty jar and let the water sit in the jar for 24 hours. During this time, the chlorine will evaporate and you will have chlorine free water to drink.

Another bad chemical used in some drinking water is fluoride. It is a stronger poison that chlorine and also neutralizes the essential iodine. The best way to avoid fluoridated water is to not fluoridate water in the first place. The human body needs iodine and does not need fluoride or chlorine.

Body weight and obesity:  Over-weight and obesity [body mass index [BMI] of 30 or greater] are bad for your health.  Obesity can trigger diabetes, heart disorders and other health problems.  Regardless of the reasons for your excessive weight, you need to make changes in your eating habits, your life-style and lose body weight immediately.  Consult your health care insurance provider and medical doctor for help!

Avoid body sins: Stop smoking and drinking booze. Smoking is a killer habit that smokers need to give up in order to avoid major health problems in later life.  Likewise, drinking alcoholic beverages can cause additional health problems as well.

Skin:   Many dermatologists think that the skin reflects on the outside what is going on inside the body.   Although you need to protect it from over-exposure to the sun, your body and skin needs about half an hour of sunlight exposure each day. The skin is the largest organ in the body and it needs nourishment just like all other parts of the body.

Your skin gets more sensitive with age.  With age and poor nutrition, our skin function slows down, gives off symptoms such as itchiness, redness, acne, eczema and other disorders.  Check to make sure you eat foods that contain the nutrients that help make collagen, the glue that binds skin, joints and tissue together.  These skin nutrients include organic sulfur, vitamin C, helpers ceramides that retain water in the skin and hyaluronic acid that acts as a filler and gives skin firmness; as well as helpers minerals and vitamins, amino acids, arachidonic acid [fat], linoleic acid (LA), and essential fatty acids (EFA).

Skin lotions and cream may help somewhat but do not restore youthful skin or remove wrinkles. Aging gracefully requires that you accept skin changes as part of the process of life.

Digestive Disorders: Many seniors, as well as young persons, suffer from digestive disorders, do not know they suffer from such disorders and doctors usually fail to recognize these as real problems. An emerging digestive disorder is leaky gut.  Leaky gut symptoms can vary widely from reflux or heartburn to bloating, gas, constipation, stomach pain and diarrhea. Leaky gut is an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your large intestine and many persons may be suffering from leaky gut and not know it. There is a lot of confusion and controversy about leaky gut as it is a fairly new branch of medicine and most persons are too embarrassed to talk about it. Digestive disorders need medical attention if these do not resolve in a short time:

    1orange  Reflux or Heartburn: Heartburn is the symptom everyone at one time or another has had; and feels when gastric acid splashes up and out of the stomach into the throat. "Heartburn" is sometimes used interchangeably with "acid reflux." Often times, the best solution is the most obvious and gives you back the control you need over your problem with acid reflux. One of the most important things you can do is to try to find the cause of your problem with your doctor. Taking anti-acids or buffer medicines does not fix the cause!

    Try experimenting to find what works for you. Many persons with reflux can fix this problem by:

      1orange  changing the foods they eat; e.g. eat less protein [meat].
      1orange  eat a smaller meal before bedtime.
      1orange  do not eat 3 hours before going to bed.
      1orange  change their lifestyle.
      1orange  put some acid into your stomach. Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinigar in a glass of water and drink before eating.
      1orange  try drinking a half teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. It helps some heartburn persons.

    This is a form of self-doctoring.

    1orange  Constipation: Constipation is a signal that you are not eating properly and that the bad bacteria have overwhelmed the good bacteria in your large intestine or colon. Constipation can get bad when you have to strain during a bowel movement, as this, in turn, can eventuate in hemorrhoids. What can you do to stop constipation?

      1orange  Stop eating foods like sweets, puddings, pies and processed foods with corn syrup that can cause constipation.
      1orange  eat more fiber foods like ground flax seeds, fresh leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and nuts.
      1orange  drink more water to help lubricate the colon.
      1orange  eat 3 to 5 prunes each day for several days to help soften your feces and re-store your good bacteria in the colon.
      1orange  eat resistant starch, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. For example, cold potatoes — that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Other resistant starch is sauerkraut and dill pickles.
      1orange  And yes, you can, should you so need, also ingest quality probiotics to seed good bacteria in the large intestine.
      1orange  visit your medical doctor for more help as needed.

 Your body likes to have a regular bowl movement about once a day. You should feel the urge to go [defecate]  about half an hour after breakfast. If you do so regularly, this urge can become a routine habit at approximately each time of the day.  Do not insult your cleansing body time-clock by postponing this biological urge! 

Urination:   You need to urinate when you get the urge to do so. If you postpone and wait too long and hold back from urinating, you can, over time, over stretch the muscles in the bladder. This can cause the bladder pressure to weaken and cause the bladder not to empty properly.  Urine retained in the bladder in this manner can allow bacteria to infect the bladder.  Other complications can also happen.  To avoid such complications, respect your body urge to urinate!  The more water you drink, the more frequently you will urinate! 

Eyesight:  Humans have five basic senses: the eyes to see, the tongue to taste, the nose to smell, the ears to hear, and the skin to touch. By far the most important organs of sense are our eyes. We perceive up to 80 per cent of all impressions by means of our sight . And if other senses such as taste or smell stop working, it's the eyes that best protect us from danger.  Although there are numerous eye-vision problems and this information can be readily found, this topic focuses on what seniors can do to improve their existing vision ... to be able to see better:

What can you do to have better vision? Normal visual acuity [the clarity or sharpness of vision] is measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance.  Macular degeneration [vision loss] occurs when tissue in the macula — the part of your retina that's responsible for central vision — deteriorates. This causes a blind spot to form in your central vision, impairing your vision. Other vision issues being normal and you have good vision, there are a few things you can do to be able to function better.

    1orange  Diet to Prevent Macular degeneration: A good diet should include carrots [vitamin A], leafy greens [lutein, zeaxanthin—antioxidants], citrus and berries [vitamin C], eggs [lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc], almonds [ vitamin E, magnesium], fish [DHA or fatty acid].
    1orange  Take eye rest periods often.
    1orange  Have bright light for reading. Senior eyesight deteriorates with age and by 50 years, most seniors have lost about half of their youthful visual function.  Having bright light [like sunlight] is critical to better vision and ability to work.
    1orange  You can practice eye exercises to strengthen the eye muscles for better vision; and in some instances, not need glasses for better vision.
    1orange  Cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye, causing reading and vision problems. It can be treated in most cases.

Hearing: Seniors lose some or much of their hearing. Hearing is second in importance to eyesight in helping us function. Earwax often interferes with our ability to hear, but the more important reason is the loss of tiny hairs in the inner ear. Such loss causes others to shout so seniors can hear. Seniors often have difficulty understanding what others are saying as many endings of words seem to fall off and this causes confusion in being able to hear clearly. There are things seniors can do to rectify hearing problems:

    1orange  Visit an audiologist and have your ears examined
    1orange  Audiologist can clean excess ear wax that may interfere with hearing.
    1orange  An audiologist can give you a hearing test, to identify the degree of hearing loss in your ears [ mild, moderate, severe ], then match a hearing aid that is best for you.
    1orange  Audiologist can prescribe medication to deal with outer ear canal itchiness.
    1orange  Audiologist can prescribe an appropriate Hearing Aid.

Arthritis:  What to do for painful and stiff joints:

    061  Exercise the joints early in the morning. Moving the joints stretches the ligaments and muscles, circulates the blood and deflates the inflammation, thereby alleviating the pain.
    061  Ingest adequate amount of magnesium and vitamin D-3, natural pain killers.
    061  Drink lots of water to flush out toxins from the joints.
    061  Eat a diet rich in organic sulfur, vitamin C, get sunlight for vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and other co-factors, in forming and maintaining bones, joints and tissues of the body.
    061  Avoid eating highly acidic foods and also avoid eating, sweets, processed and junk foods.
    061  Get exposure to sunlight, which synthesizes natural vitamin D and is essential in maintaining bones and joints. If you work/live mostly indoors, then you need to ingest 5000 IU of vitamin D-3 each day.
    061  Rest your weary joints!

Dry mouth:  Dry mouth may be related to dehydration .... drink more water.  Some medications, as a side effect, can cause dry mouth.  Helpful preventive information on this problem is lacking at this time. 

Exercise:  You need a minimum of one hour of movement exercise every second day. Do so with your friends for fun and motivation. Here are your options:

    1orange  Join an exercise class or form one.
    1orange  Try weight lifting programs.
    1orange  Walking is good exercise and it is inexpensive. Walking, like running, helps to move the toxins out of the lymphatic vessels.
    1orange  Swimming is very good for those with joint problems and arthritis.
    1orange  Move the body to circulate the blood and move the toxins in the lymphatic system.
    1orange  Deep breathing exercises also move the dead air out of the lungs and prevent bacteria from infesting the lungs. Prevent bacterial pneumonia.
    1orange  Store water before exercising, then drink as needed.

Dental hygiene: Avoid bad breath as it is very annoying to those around you by:

    1orange  brushing your teeth after eating
    1orange  flossing your teeth
    1orange  having dental hygienist clean your teeth every six months
    1orange  drinking lots of water to rinse clean your mouth
    1orange  consider replacing tooth loss as soon as possible as teeth on either side will shift or tip into the empty space. The jaw bone will degenerate as well within the first six months. You can prevent such natural bone-teeth changes.

Get a minimum of half an hour of sunshine each day:  Most persons today work and live indoors. They do not get a minimum of half an hour of exposure to sunshine per day. Hence they probably are deficient in vitamin D.

    1orange  Sunshine stimulates your skin to make vitamin D.
    1orange  If you cannot get half an hour of sun exposure, then you must ingest about 5000 IU of vitamin D-3 each day.
    1orange  Major benefit of exposure to sunshine is its affect on the pineal gland in the brain. This tiny gland, the size of a pea, regulates sleep and many as yet unknown vital body processes. One theory is that it provides energy, it stimulates the electrical system of the body. Do not short change sunlight! And a minimum half hour of sunlight each day will not cause skin cancer. Yes, there is controversy about getting skin cancer from exposure to sunlight, but this has been over-exaggerated and disproven scientifically.

Sleep: Do the following to sleep well:

    1orange  get at least 8 hours of sleep each day.
    1orange  get a half hour or more sunlight each day. The sunlight synthesizes melatonin that regulates and helps you sleep.
    1orange  darken the room
    1orange  keep room quiet; turn off all noise
    1orange  keep the room cool

seniors active2Socialize with your friends and family: Go dancing, go to seminars, parties and other social events. Socializing keeps you young! Socializing is essential surviving.

Keep your brain active: Think of your brain as a muscle. Either use it or lose it.  Below is an incomplete list of how to activate your brain to stay young in many ways:

    brain8  write an article
    brain8  paint a picture
    brain8  make clay pottery
    brain8  take a college class
    brain8  invent a new gadget
    brain8  learn to use a 3-D printer & make your own clothes, kitchen gadgets and more
    brain8  learn a computer language
    brain8  build a web-site using html language
    brain8  fix broken furniture or machine

Using your brain is more than just watching TV, or going shopping, gossiping with others, reading a book or newspaper. Playing repetitive checkers, card games and doing cross-word puzzles are not very challenging for the human brain. You need to challenge the brain to create into new as yet unknown dimensions where it has not been before and force it to work!   Do it often during the week!

Reminders to remember:  Do not fret that you forgot to do something.  We all forget things and it is normal to forget!  As a reminder, make a list; write down on paper things you need to do each day:

    1orange  grocery shopping.
    1orange  persons to call
    1orange  medicines to take
    1orange  appointments to keep
    1orange  household chores to do

Then, as you do these reminder things, cross them off your list.  Making a reminder list helps your brain feel relaxed and free to solve problems.  Your brain likes order and routines.

Do something free and meaningful to or for someone else each day: Give someone a free gift of affection, a hug or help and expect nothing in return. Do something purposeful.  It makes you feel good because you have now become a bigger part than just being yourself; it gives you a bigger purpose in life and bolsters your desire to live. Do something to help others be better.

Attitude: Today is the best day of your life: Yesterday and the days before were also super days, but these are memories now. But today is the day you are functioning and can accomplish real things. This makes today the only live day of your life .... one day at a time! Tomorrow is in the future and is your hope for another super day. But today is when you can actually do, solve problems, give the day meaning and purpose, accomplish things and make it happen. Today is when you can become a better person by making changes to be healthier.  You can make today the best day of your life! Make today count!

The above list is this author's gift to you.  The list may not be a complete list but it is a good beginning as a reminder of what you can do to lead a fit, fun, and social lifestyle and stay young, safe and well.  Become pro-active now! 

Original text