Michelle Gabrielle Centamore

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Age-appropriate Tips for a Healthier You in 2018

The New Year is the perfect time to reflect, make amends with your past and put your best foot forward toward making better choices. Now that it’s 2018, the time is right to create a better you — a healthier you — with New Year’s resolutions that stick.

The first step is to set goals that are age-appropriate and realistic. Establish a plan and mindset to break negative habits. Embark on a health journey filled with positive actions and thoughts to help you to be more successful.

Education is key to understanding your body and learning how to make it healthier, according to Dr. Amir Herman, medical director of primary care practice, East Northport Medical Care and Natural Pain Solutions.

“We encourage our patients to meet with our dietician, have their metabolism checked, and we work to educate our patients on healthy lifestyles,” Dr. Amir says. He adds that aiming for optimal health in the new year is a “worthwhile resolution that although initially can be difficult to implement, will become a healthy habit and will improve one’s quality of life.”

When it comes to boosting your health, it’s crucial to address your body, mind, and spirit. Health expectations can differ depending on your age so incorporating age-appropriate resolutions can also contribute to success.

ADULTS IN THEIR 30s
Let’s face it, 30-somethings are the new 20-somethings.

They often feel they are invincible. They tend to neglect critical health protocols — such as scheduling annual physical exams — that may help them to be healthier and prevent early detection of a potential health challenge.

“Their mindset is focused on other aspects of their being — family life, professional advancement, etc.,” Dr. Herman warns. “They may indeed lead active lifestyles, and eat well, but unfortunately, as they often feel invincible, medical screening is not at the forefront of their consciousness.”

So what’s an indestructible 30-something to do?

“Good health for someone in their 30s should rely on equally distributing the mind-body spirit concept,” says Dr. Herman. “Active and healthy lifestyle generally is a good way to ensure a good quality of life now, as well as into the future.”

Stop smoking; exercise; take some time out to meditate or read. Spend quality time with a loved one.

“Additionally, an annual exam at their primary care physician’s office is always recommended and encouraged,” says Dr. Herman.

ADULTS IN THEIR 40s

Adults in their 40s go through some interesting physical and mental changes, says Dr. Herman.

While initially optimistic and excited because, “This is 40,” that positive energy can spiral with the arrival of new aches and pains that may make them feel less like a kid and much more reminiscent of the woes of their parents. If you’re not active at 40, says Dr. Herman, it’s time to kick it into gear, get your annual checkup and take your medical care more seriously.

“Good health in this decade would be defined as having a good quality of life and a good balance of one’s personal and professional life,” he says. “A good sleep schedule is important, and one should ensure that dietary needs are being met.”

Again, no smoking!

“Women at risk for breast cancer should start annual screenings; annual gynecologic exams are very important, as well,” he adds.

ADULTS IN THEIR 50s

Adults in their 50s often look on the bright side, though not without hesitation.

They are cognizant of potential opportunities for success, but disappointments, too. While mentally they may feel 40, the reality that their body has caught up to their physical age has set in.

“Retirement is entering into their radar and one is often grappling a bit more with their health,” says Dr. Herman, noting a possible need for increased doctor visits. “This can be a great challenge for a patient in this age group as it is difficult to take time off from a busy work schedule, and the increasing cost of medical care can be stressful.”

“Lifestyle optimization” is a priority to achieve better health, Dr. Herman asserts. “Smoking cessation, alcohol moderation, diet and exercise must be a mainstay of their approach. At 50, one should have a screening colonoscopy, and breast cancer screening and prostate cancer screening should be performed,” as well as a check on your heart, Dr. Herman advises.

“It is possible to have a wonderful quality of life in this decade, and balancing mind, body and spirit is as always very important,” he notes.

ADULTS IN THEIR 60s

The “Golden Years” may be blindingly fantastic for some and sadly dismal for others.

Those with a clean mental and physical bill of health look forward to retirement but “those who are not as fortunate are often anxious and depressed and seeking a way to improve upon their own quality of life,” says Dr. Herman. If you’re in your 60s,
 improving your health remains on the table, he says.

“It’s not too late,” he assures. Be an active participant in your health care, whether it’s seeing a mental health care professional or a sleep specialist.

“As always, a strong resolve and will to lead a healthy lifestyle is a cornerstone of achieving a good quality of life,” he says. “Annual ophthalmologic exams are important to screen for diseases like glaucoma and it is very important that an annual skin cancer screening is performed. Regular dentist visits can improve oral, as well as general health, and those with a smoking history should have lung cancer screening performed.”

Regardless of your age, improving health doesn’t happen overnight. Take baby steps for big changes.

“Long-term success comes from perseverance,” says Dr. Herman.

Stay focused. Keep a journal. Record your goals and the steps you plan to take to achieve them. Seek support. Acknowledge your successes and forgive the “missteps,” says Dr. Herman.

Great achievements start by believing in yourself and embracing the journey. And remember, it’s never too late to improve yourself!

Keeping The Holiday Blues Under Wraps

“’Tis the season to be jolly” — for most. But for some, the holidays that are supposed to be heartwarming can spur heart-wrenching experiences or memories.

Financial stress, lack of company and support, loss of a loved one, or another traumatic event can turn a season of bliss into one of loneliness and despair, according to Dr. Ronald Brenner, chief of behavioral health for Catholic Health Services and director of psychiatry at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre.

“Holiday-induced depression or holiday blues can affect people of all ages,” says Brenner. “The holidays can act as a catalyst for depression.”

Shopping on a strict budget, pressure to be a perfect holiday host, and holding a game face when struggling with grief all produce anxiety, he says. This can lead to sleep deprivation, excessive drinking, overeating and ultimately, depression.

The good news? Holiday blues are usually short-lived, says Brenner, with a few practical strategies.

Know that this too shall pass. “The hallmark of holiday depression is that it goes away a day or two after the holidays are over,” says Brenner. “Major depressive disorder or clinical depression usually lasts much longer.”  See the light at the end of the tunnel.

Seek support. Realizing that others experience similar despondence can give perspective and ease sad feelings. As the holidays can be a painful reminder of a lost loved one, seeking comfort with trusted friends and family is important, says Brenner. Local bereavement support groups may also help, offering strength and unexpected joy.

Reminisce. Nostalgia is normal this time of year. Remembering and missing loved ones who have passed, realizing how fast time has gone by… but it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Sharing treasured memories with others may improve one’s mood. Old photos or videos might bring on a tear or two, but also maybe a smile.

Create new memories. Starting new holiday traditions may give you something to look forward to. It can be reading a special book to your children each year, a night on the town with a friend or partner, or hitting the slopes at a ski resort you’ve never visited.

Plan ahead. Practice healthy habits to reduce stress, keep a to-do list and try not to overbook. Eliminate unnecessary work. Set realistic expectations. Make time to exercise and get enough sleep. Limit alcohol consumption and avoid unhealthy snacks and meals. Be kind to yourself.

Take it day by day. Sometimes, not following a rigid holiday routine can extinguish pressure to “have the perfect Christmas,” says East Northport resident Denise Schwartz. She lost her husband three years ago when their children were 6 months, 6 and 9. She makes each holiday “about the kids,” setting little to no expectations, with less pressure on herself.

“I make things very laid back and try to do different things so I don’t feel caught in a rut,” she says. “We make cookies on Christmas Eve but I don’t do a lot of cooking. I put all my energy into making the kids happy.”

Pay attention to the good. Because it’s there. Yes, the holiday season can be stressful. It can remind us of who and what we don’t have and that can indeed be painful. But if you open your eyes and your heart enough to see past that — people caring more and being overly generous and kind; beautiful white snow showers and snowmen; festive lights and music — you might beat the holiday blues and discover and enjoy the magic of the holiday season.

Depression and Bereavement Support

Mercy Medical Center
1000 North Village Ave., Rockville Centre. mercymedicalcenter.chsli.org 
Crisis Service: 516-705-2248. Outpatient Clinic: 516-705-3400.

Nassau County Psychological Association
60 Hollywood Ave., Massapequa. nassaupsych.org 516-377-1010

Suffolk County Psychological Association
P.O. Box 397, Commack. suffolkpsych.org 631-423-2409

COPE Foundation
P.O. Box 1251, Melville. copefoundation.org 516-832-2673.

Early to Rise: Creating a Brighter You

Wake up before sunrise? That’s right. Just when we thought our days couldn’t get any longer, research is encouraging us to hop out of bed before the first sign of daylight and reap the benefits.

Your reaction to a 5 a.m. wake-up call might be to roll over, cover your alarm clock with a pillow and simply scoff at the notion of starting your day hours before the school bus arrives or your daily commute begins.

But what if those couple of hours could give you more time — more energy, more productivity and more peace so that you could accomplish your day with a better attitude and outlook on life … all because you started your day in the dark?

So just what can you accomplish by not hitting the snooze button?

Get fit and stay fit. Early risers are on the move! Busy parents, especially, often find exercise to be the most challenging “activity” to fit into their day. Working mother of three, Carrie Yuli from Bay Shore has discovered that exercising at 5 a.m. has freed her from unwanted weight, lack of energy and diminishing self-esteem.

“I didn’t feel like myself and I wanted to put some time into me before my kids woke up and to fill my own cup before I could take care of everybody else,” says the first grade teacher at West Islip Elementary School who is also a Beachbody Coach. “I actually gained so much more energy because I was fueling my body every way by doing it.”

Work towards a goal. Elizabeth Aiken, AN East Northport mother of three who also works as a school librarian, is training for her seventh New York City Marathon. As her time improves, so does her approach toward life.

“Getting up so early has been a rough adjustment but it has made a huge impact on the success of my day. I get more done; I’m not rushing to the last minute getting us all out the door.”

It has given her more patience with her little ones, too, she says.

Be social. Who knew that you could catch an ice-hockey game so early in the morning? Long Island salesman, and married father of two, Timothy Devine, meets up with 20 of his friends two days per week before the crack of dawn to play ice hockey. No guilt, he says.

“I like getting up at that time and squeezing in an activity that doesn’t interfere with my family life.”

Gain inner peace and wellness. For nearly 50 years, Dr. Alan Sherr, founder and director of the Northport Wellness Center, has woken up before sunrise to accomplish readiness, meditate, heal and give thanks.

“The morning is the best time of day when the body is most at peace and in a more optimal place to support growth and development,” he says.

Get your “me time.” Married, mother of two and pediatric occupational therapist Lori Flynn of Montauk treasures her time alone in the morning. She rarely misses a sunrise.

“I drink coffee and just sit and journal or read. Everyone else but my dog is sleeping,” she says.

Witness Mother Nature’s Magic firsthand. Perhaps catching that first glimpse of sunshine is what inspires us to plow through whatever it is we aim to achieve in the day.

“It’s uplifting and a little magical in a way,” says Aiken. “There really is something about seeing the light first hit the sky or highlight the clouds that gives me something to look forward to.” It has a “renewing effect.”

Tomorrow is a new day. Set your alarm clock just a couple of hours earlier and meet a better you!