As an informed caregiver, I would explain to the patient that while family history is a significant predictor of an individual’s health, it is not the only one. I would then proceed to outline the fundamental principles of modern biological theories of aging as they are understood not. It is possible that the woman is not aware that aging is neither determined by genetic information nor resulting from external influences.
Thus, I would explain to her the programmed and damage or error theories in the simplest terms available. For example, I would explain that some systems in our body, such as the immune system or those responsible for hormones are programmed to decline over time, and that this is a natural stage of life, similarly to growth during childhood and development of an adult (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016). I would also add that external influences that are an inevitable part of our lives constantly damage our cells and tissue and thus put their components under stress. As a result, these components eventually wear off similarly to the man-made mechanisms (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016). Thus, her current health state is to be expected at such an age.
To mitigate the effects of aging, and with regard that the patient is already receiving professional care, I would incorporate into the care plan health teachings on the emotional and social aspects of aging. The patient is dissatisfied with her current state and does not accept the adverse effects of aging. It would thus b reasonable to provide her with means of coping with aging and improve her well-being by explaining the adaptive aspect of the process and thus improving her resilience and decreasing the observed emotional distress.
- Undergo regular health screenings. The aging organism has a lower capacity for resistance to illnesses, so timely detection and prevention of an undesirable health condition may prove crucial for the success of treatment.
- Schedule meetings with your doctor. Aside from the obvious benefit of overseeing the screening process, a healthcare professional will provide you with useful information on self-diagnosis and monitoring.
- Undergo immunizations. Immunizations are proven to dramatically decrease the risks associated with aging (Aldwin & Gilmer, 2013). Be sure to consult with your doctor regarding the need for additional immunizations as well as the exclusion of certain recommended ones.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is proven to increase the risks of several conditions associated with aging, such as heart disease and numerous cancers. It is also known to adversely impact memory.
- Create a healthy diet. Fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain meals decrease the likelihood of heart disease. Also, make sure to avoid food rich in saturated fats – try to choose polyunsaturated ones instead.
- Stay fit. As we age, our metabolism changes, increasing the risk of gaining excessive weight, and, by extension, conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Learn to monitor your BMI and respond to undesirable changes.
- Exercise. In addition to maintaining a healthy body shape, physical exercise has been proven to improve mental functioning and decrease the likelihood of memory loss (Aldwin & Gilmer, 2013).
- Consider multivitamins. The changes in metabolism can also cause deficiencies in some vitamins (Aldwin & Gilmer, 2013). Make sure to consult your doctor on the recommended dosages.
- Exercise mentally. Your mind needs the training to stay in shape. Read, solve puzzles, and engage in mentally challenging activities.
- Maintain oral hygiene. In addition to pain, poor oral health can disrupt a healthy diet.
- Stay socially active. Social ties are known to improve emotional well-being and can improve mental state (Aldwin & Gilmer, 2013).
- Learn to seek information. Responsible inquiry on risks associated with aging and strategies to mitigate them will enhance your resilience and contribute to mental sharpness.
Aldwin, C. M., & Gilmer, D. F. (2013). Health, illness, and optimal aging: Biological and psychosocial perspectives (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Bengtson, V. L., & Settersten, R. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of theories of aging (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.