Vitamin D is essential to bone health and healthy aging, yet many Americans are vitamin D deficient. Estimates from a number of studies demonstrate that up to 50% of seniors have inadequate levels of this vitamin, which is so vitally important to our bones, muscle strength, and overall health and well-being.

Vitamins are essential to our good health, and they cannot be manufactured by our bodies. They must be ingested in the food we eat or taken in a dietary supplement. This has led to the explosive growth of the vitamin industry, with vitamin intake becoming commonplace among seniors. More than half of adults 60 years of age and up take at least one vitamin pill a day.

Today, medication is the cornerstone of health care treatment for many conditions, and in some instances, it seems miraculous that we can effectively treat or cure diseases once thought of as terminal. While these advances have revolutionized health care and helped millions, it is important to pause and reflect on the downside of too much medicine, particularly among seniors.

Advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment is one of the very best stories of the modern era. From 1991 to 2016, overall death rates from cancer decreased by 27%. That translates to about 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths than if rates had stayed the same.

The food we choose to eat is one of the most impactful health care decisions we make each and every day. The very good news is that we now know a lot about what constitutes good choices for our mind and body. The hard part is saying no to the foods that are less healthful but often very tasty and widely available.

Perhaps the cause of death that is the most disturbing and difficult to grieve is suicide. In 2016 suicide claimed 45,000 lives and rose over 30% in more than half the states over the past two decades. When touched by suicide even beyond family members or friends, we are all deeply impacted and may ask ourselves the question, “Could we somehow have prevented it?”

The use of marijuana has been growing across the nation as more and more states legalize its recreational and medicinal use. Seniors are not shying away and are among the many who are giving it a try.

When his patients had a fever or pain, Hippocrates recommended they chew on willow tree bark, which is high in salicylic acid—the compound that aspirin is derived from.

When we think of health care providers and members of our health care team, we are quick to mention physicians, nurses, and therapists. But an often-forgotten provider who can make a big contribution at a critical time is a social worker.

Dr. Narrett leads the medical team at all Erickson Living communities. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, he has been providing care for seniors for over three decades.

One aspect of health that we are all fully aware of is our weight. Weight is an excellent indicator of health as it reflects our nutritional status, which is fundamentally important to our well-being. Being at a healthful weight and having good nutritional status are very positive for mind and body.

Seniors are well aware of the changes that occur in certain senses as they age—hearing and vision in particular. But not everyone thinks about how aging-related changes in taste and smell can also affect health and quality of life.