The basics of good health

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i. Check vaccinations and routine screenings are up to date

As we age, our immune system becomes less efficient at protecting us. A number of different vaccinations are available to older people free on the NHS. The NHS App or your GP surgery can be used to check that your vaccinations, routine screenings and health checks are all up to date.

ii. Look after your teeth

Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Flossing helps to prevent gum disease by removing pieces of food and plaque from between the teeth. If they are left to build up you might notice sore or bleeding gums, and gum disease can also be linked to diabetes, strokes, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Have regular check-ups, and if you wear dentures or have a bridge, ask your dentist to check that they fit properly.

iii. Keep your bones strong

Aim for two to three servings of calcium-rich food a day
Ask your pharmacist about vitamin D supplements and try to get 10 minutes in the sun every day from May to September.

iv. Take care of your eyes and ears

Have your sight and hearing tested regularly or if you notice they have changed. Eye tests are free if you’re over 60. You can help keep your eyes healthy by not smoking, as smoking damages the eyes, making smokers more likely to develop eye-related conditions such as cataracts. Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses and help reduce UV rays from the sun.

v. Don’t forget your feet

Washing your feet often and drying them well will help prevent infections. When cutting your nails, trim them straight across, never at an angle or down the edge as this may cause ingrowing nails. Keep your feet warm but avoid anything too tight. If your shoes fit well, they protect and support your feet and may improve your balance and stability.

vi. Understand your medicines

You may be taking several different medicines, especially if you have a condition such as diabetes or asthma. It’s important that your medicines and the doses are reviewed at least once every year. Your GP surgery or pharmacist will do this for you, but you may have to ask. They may recommend alternative medicines or change the doses of some you are on.
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