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Ask the expert: Roland Lascari, M.D.

Created date

March 22nd, 2010
Please note: The following questions were submitted by readers. The answers are intended for general information purposes and should not replace your doctor s medical advice. Q:I ' am 85 years old. I have a number of health problems for which I take several medications and follow a special diet and exercise program. At my age, are any of these things really going to prolong my life that much? A:As you get older, it s natural to wonder how many years you have left, what those years will be like, and whether it s worth it to continue treating your health conditions. Engaging in healthy behaviors may not necessarily prolong your life, but taking your medications properly, eating a healthy diet, and staying active may help you to feel your best and enjoy each day more. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to have the best quality of life possible in your remaining years. Q:I tripped over a loose rug last week. Then the other day I missed a step on the way down to the basement and almost fell. Is it normal to lose your footing once in a while at my age (I m 76), or could something be wrong with my balance? A:The aging process alone doesn t make people fall. Diabetes, heart disease, thyroid problems, or problems with your circulation or nervous system can all affect balance. Some medicines make people dizzy. Eye problems or alcohol can also be factors that might lead to a fall. Each year, falls occur in over a third of persons over age 65 and in over half of persons over age 75. Taking care of your health by exercising and getting regular eye exams and physicals may help reduce your chance of falling. Getting rid of tripping hazards in your home and wearing nonskid shoes may also help. To reduce the chances of breaking a bone if you do fall, make sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D. Most importantly, tell your doctor about your balance concerns.