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September is Healthy Aging Month!

ASHEVILLE, NC – September is Healthy Aging Month, and experts emphasize that healthy living beyond age 65 is a focus more than ever before. The year 2011 will be the first for retirement for the “Baby Boomers,” a group that will significantly add to our aging population during the next 20 years.

“The problem is that during the next 20 years, more will be retiring each year, and we’re going to potentially have millions retiring and not participating in physical activity,” says Whitney Doiron, R.N., A.P.R.N., a board-certified adult and geriatric nurse practitioner at Park Ridge Health. “This sedentary lifestyle leads to more and more problems.”

These problems not only affect the individual, but place an enormous burden on the health care system, as well as the national economy. Arthritis alone currently accounts for 1 million hospitalizations and more than $128 billion in medical expenses and lost earnings in the United States every year. Cardiovascular disease costs were estimated to be $444 billion last year.

Doiron urges those entering retirement age to think of aging as a new start, rather than an excuse to let good health drop off the priority list. She emphasizes that many of the health problems plaguing the elderly – including arthritis, heart disease and  even some mental health complications — are preventable through a healthy diet and exercise.

“If we emphasize that fact with our patients at the ages of 60, 65, 75, then they’ll continue that pattern at 80, 85, and even 95,” Doiron says.

Here are some tips for staying fit as the body grows older:

  • Make it fun, and make it practical. If 5-lb. weights are uncomfortable for you, lift a bag of dry beans.
  • Exercise with friends. It not only makes physical activity more enjoyable, but your exercise buddies will keep you accountable.
  • Keep your diet balanced.

About Whitney Doiron:

Doiron earned her master’s degree in nursing from Duke University, and has more than 15 years of nursing experience. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina. Doiron works in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and family/group homes throughout the region with the Park Ridge Health – Community Health program.

About Park Ridge Health:

Park Ridge Health was built by Henderson County residents, and more than 100 years later, they are still a beloved piece of the growing community’s health care network – providing quality, compassionate care in a Christian environment. In 1986, Park Ridge partnered with the Adventist Health System, joining more than 44 exceptional not-for-profit community hospitals in the U.S., and leading the way in many medical firsts for the region.  For more information about Park Ridge Health or to find a physician, please visit parkridgehealth.org or call 855.PRH.LIFE (774-5433).

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