by Samantha Haas
on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 at 8:10am.
Did you know that September is both National Healthy Aging Month and National Fall Prevention Awareness Month? A local nonprofit that we’ve featured in the past, Sharing Active Independent Lives (SAIL), does a tremendous job of educating and empowering older adults as well as equipping them with resources on how to age well, prevent falls, and much more.
For example, Dr. Alexis Eastman, a faculty member in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in the Department of Medicine at University of Wisconsin-Madison, often presents a SAILing Into The Future workshop on Aging 101: 10 Things to Know About Aging. Here are a few key takeaways as a clinical geriatrician that she would like people to remember about aging:
"I want everybody to exercise – not only for their physical health and to aid in the prevention of falling and other ailments, but also for their mental health and to help reduce the risk of dementia by up to 50%. When you get older, you can expect things to get stiffer and saggier, but they should not start hurting. In terms of memory, it’s normal to take longer to process information or learn something new, but you should still be able to do those things and not forget important things. When in doubt, get checked out. It never hurts to ask a question about anything that’s a change in the way you’ve been. Safely do aerobic and strength-training exercise for about a half hour most days of the week," Dr. Eastman said.
Support Your Health
"Keep your medical health under control, don’t smoke, invest in nice supportive shoes, give the Mediterranean diet a try, get good rest at night, and find a doctor that is the best fit for you. Anyone over the age of 65 can see a geriatrician, but the people who really need us are those with complex health and social situations," Dr. Eastman said.
"Socialization is also very beneficial as we age. People think they’re doing fine on their own or they aren’t lonely, but Covid especially was incredibly isolating, and unfortunately we saw a lot of people whose dementia and depression got worse or who died that didn’t need to. The silver lining of that was video visits for those who had the technology to connect with providers online, as well as UW Senior Chats program that connected medical students with seniors to check in on them via telephone. So get together and play cards with friends, make that call, and if you’re living alone and considering moving to a retirement or assisted living community, be sure to eat lunch at the place you’re looking at since it’s the most common meal served and you can learn a lot about the environment and people from that experience," Dr. Eastman said.
SAIL, a program of AgeBetter Inc., in collaboration with Attic Angel Association and Oakwood Village, celebrates independence and stewardship in older adults, creating a community of learning, activity, socialization, and support for one another.
“The comprehensiveness of SAIL is not something that is found in a lot of other cities or communities, so we’re really fortunate to have this organization in Madison and a supportive community that will help you live longer and better,” Eastman said.
Dr. Eastman was recently presented with AgeBetter, Inc.'s 2023 Aging Advocate Award. The first of its kind, this award honors a community member who is an advocate for older adults and devotes volunteer and professional time promoting healthy aging and preventing ageism.
“We wanted to recognize the impact that Dr. Alexis Eastman has made in the Madison area community to dispel ageism, provide education to older adults, and promote geriatrics as a profession,” said Ann Albert, Executive Director of AgeBetter, Inc. “Alexis is a super person who has also been involved with our SAIL (Sharing Active Independent Lives) program for 5 years.”
Thank you Dr. Eastman, AgeBetter, Inc., and SAIL, for sharing your knowledge with us!