Making senior health a walk in the park

A Q&A with Dr. Manuel Jain on prevention and safety as you age

CENTRAL FLORIDA HEALTH NEWS (CFHN): What do you share with your senior patients about the importance of being physically active?

DR. MANUEL JAIN: Being a senior does not always mean that you are slowing down, when in fact for some, life is just starting. As one patient said to me, ‘Movement is life, and one has to be active to stay alive.’ Move when you are awake, eat when you are hungry, and rest when you are tired.

Physical activity is an important part of getting old. Attend a structured program like a gym or other recreational activities to gain and maintain strength. Develop endurance, achieve flexibility, and, most of all, maintain your balance. Physical activity feeds the brain with a demand to respond to what you are doing. In the process, the brain will continue to be creative. Be active.

CFHN: What preventive measures do you recommend for memory and mental health with age?

DR. JAIN: Oftentimes, negative events in the past will continue to bother you now and in the future. One has to substitute that with positive attitude. When sad, decide to be happy. When mad, decide to be patient. When struggling, do not suffer. After all, you have made a lot of decisions in your life, and making one more positive decision will surely help your mental health with age.

To be successful in business, one has to have a day planner. When memory starts to fade, jot down what you plan to do for the day and that planner becomes a good source of your memorable history — for you and your loved ones.

CFHN: How important are social events or interactions for a senior’s health and safety?

DR. JAIN: When my patients experience a catastrophic event in their old age, most often it is their peers that come to their aid, such as a neighbor or a friend. Get a friend and maintain that friendship. The more friendships, the better.

Participate in all events that you can possibly attend. In the Blue Zones in the world, where there are more 100-year-olds, one of the common factors that sustain their life is the presence of friends and peers. Isolation is not good for aging.

CFHN: What safety measures in the homes do you find are most helpful in preventing falls or other accidents for independent seniors?

DR. JAIN: Avoid throw rugs. Avoid grabbing moving objects like chairs, lamp stands, or cupboard covers. Grab rails in the bathroom. Daily usable items should not be higher than the eyes and not lower than the belt line to avoid positional instability.

CFHN: For your senior patients who have chronic conditions and multiple prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines, how often do you review their medication list with them and why?

DR. JAIN: Every doctor’s visit should include bringing their medication with them. They would be reviewed at every visit. I used to ask patients to make a list of their medications on their visits and oftentimes, they showed me a list of medications that revealed duplications, drug-to-drug interactions, obsolete medications and, most importantly, inappropriate medications.

What I do now is to give them the list myself and for them to reconcile the list with what medications they have at home — prescriptions, or over-the-counter medications. They visit several doctors for their chronic conditions and understandably will get numerous different medications. Clinics should have an open door to review patient’s medications.

CFHN: Do you have recommendations for senior patients who have difficulty keeping track of their dosage/medicine schedule?

DR. JAIN: Keep a log of how the medications were taken and bring it to your doctor for discussion. Medicines should be scheduled not more than twice a day or they should be dosed according to the patient’s lifestyle, like three times a day with meals or at bedtime.

CFHN: In your professional experience, what are some signs that a home healthcare provider or assisted living might be needed for the safety of your senior patient?

DR. JAIN: First of all, the appearance of the patient tells me a lot about them. It should be noted if the patient is clean, well-groomed and well-nourished. If a physician notices changes in a patient’s mood, or if they are not taking their medications, or if there are frequent visits to the ER, doctors, or clinic, those are all signs worthy of investigation. Non-healing wounds, frequent falls, missed appointments and, most of all, lack of social support are also red flags.


inset photo of Dr. Jain by PEZZIMENTI

ABOUT THE PHYSICIAN: Dr. Manuel Jain, board certified in family medicine and geriatric medicine, is the lead physician at WellMed at Haines City, Florida. Dr. Jain has practiced medicine for more than four decades, and is also a Polk County Medical Association member.

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