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Helpful Tips for Seniors to Live Independently
Your Health Matters
By Dr. Judith Black

As you grow older, and retirement is in the not-so-distant future, it's important to consider taking steps that can ease the transition into this new stage of life. Aging doesn't mean that you have to lose your independence. There are steps that can be taken now that will essentially help you in the long run.

If you're getting ready to retire, it's important to make sure your finances are in order so you can avoid stress and enjoy the "golden years." Even though you've likely set money aside, selected health insurance coverage and identified how much you can safely take from your savings each year, it doesn't hurt to consult a professional, too. By making an appointment with a financial adviser, it will help put you at ease when it comes to spending.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important, too. Being active lowers risks for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. Many health plans offer its members options to enroll in specialized fitness programs. Highmark's Medicare Advantage members receive a complimentary fitness membership at participating locations across the country through the SilverSneakers® fitness program. Be sure to check and see if your health plan has this offering.

Being in good shape can also help reduce your risk of falling. Falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors and should be taken seriously. To avoid falling, you can take such steps as wearing nonslip shoes, installing grab bars in the bathroom, using a raised toilet seat and having handrails placed on both sides of the staircase. Having your vision checked regularly will also help you avoid falling.

Scheduling your annual wellness visit will help you learn how to keep your body and mind healthy. This visit will help you create a prevention plan with your doctor based on your current health and risk factors. Be sure to come prepared with a list of questions and concerns such as medication safety and the amount of exercise that's right for you. Receiving an annual wellness visit is an essential part of keeping yourself as healthy as possible.

You should keep in mind that feeling your best at any age is important. Taking these steps will help you lead a healthy, independent life.

Dr. Judith Black is medical director for senior markets at Highmark Inc. For more information about Highmark's commitment to health and wellness, visit www.highmark.com.

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