By: Mary Norman, M.D.
As the medical director at Highland Springs retirement community in North Dallas, I see firsthand how older Americans can experience the best years of their life in retirement.
While some benefit from great genetics, most others take a proactive approach to their physical, emotional and social well-being. May is Older Americans Month, and this year's theme is Blaze a Trail. It is the perfect time to establish goals for wellness and fitness.
It takes commitment, but now more than ever, health care providers, government agencies and non-profits offer free tools designed to achieve successful aging.
First, consider making an appointment with your physician for the Annual Wellness Visit.
Unlike other physician visits that require co-payments and deductibles, this appointment is covered 100% by Medicare. The purpose of the Annual Wellness Visit is to develop your personalized health & wellness plan by tracking blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, cancer screening and bone health. It is important to note that the Annual Wellness Visit is not the same as the "routine physical check-up."
At Highland Springs, we have gone a step further for our residents. We offer Care Plan visits during which we develop individual strategies for residents to address any chronic medical conditions with the goal to maximize their quality of life. Other preventive items like vaccines, diet and exercise are also discussed.
Next, the Texas Department of Aging & Disability Services leads the Age Well, Live Well initiative. It's a collaboration of local public-private partnerships designed to improve physical health of older Americans, promote volunteer opportunities and raise awareness of available resources.
Along with other businesses and organizations in North Dallas, Highland Springs is an Age Well, Live Well partner. We have hosted informative and interactive events tailor-made to the needs of our residents. More information can be found at www.dads.state.tx.us.
Finally, use your own social network to create wellness activities. Start a walking club with family and friends in your neighborhood. Take fitness classes at the local senior center. Engage your mind by starting a new hobby. Everything counts!
Setting wellness goals—and then acting on them—increases your confidence to enjoy life. I am reminded of this when I see a resident at Highland Springs who created a personalized care plan with me. He is now riding his bicycle around our 89-acre campus, and he plays basketball and tennis with friends.
Many others will have the same opportunity to shape their future. By 2030, nearly 70 million Americans will be above the age of 65.
Older Americans Month in May reminds us to take control of our well-being. By setting goals now, we can work toward a healthier, happier 2016 and beyond.
Dr. Mary Norman is the Medical Director of Highland Springs, an Erickson Living retirement community in North Dallas. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatrics. Dr. Norman can be reached at 972-232-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.