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Focus on Health: Tips for staying healthy after 50

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How can you stay healthy after age 50? Here are some tips for women:

Be tobacco free. For tips on how to quit, go to:⁄path⁄tobacco.htm or visit To talk to someone about how to be tobacco free, call the National Quitline: 1−800−QUITNOW.

Be physically active. If you are not already physically active, start small and work up to 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming, and bicycling are just a few examples of moderate physical activity.

Eat a healthy diet. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat−free or low−fat milk and milk products. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.

Stay at a healthy weight. Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities. Check with your doctor if you start to gain or lose weight.

If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Have no more than one drink a day. A standard drink is one 12−ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5−ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80−proof distilled spirits.

Should You Take Preventive Medicines?

Aspirin. Ask your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent stroke.

Breast Cancer Drugs. If your mother, sister, or daughter has had breast cancer, talk to your doctor about whether you should take medicines to prevent breast cancer.

Estrogen Use for Menopause (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Do not use estrogen for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or other diseases. If you need relief from the symptoms of menopause, talk with your doctor.

Immunizations. You need a flu shot every year. You can prevent other serious diseases, such as pneumonia, whooping cough, and shingles, by being vaccinated. Talk to your doctor or nurse about the vaccines you need and when to get them. You can also find out which immunizations you need by going to⁄nip⁄a­dultImmSch­ed⁄.

Screening Tests: What You Need and When

Health experts from the US Preventive Services Task Force have made these recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about which screening tests you need and when to get them.

Breast Cancer. Have a mammogram every 1−2 years.

Cervical Cancer. Have a Pap smear every 1−3 years if you have ever been sexually active. If you are older than 65 and recent Pap smears before you turned 65 were normal, you do not need a Pap smear.

Colorectal Cancer. Have a test for colorectal cancer. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you.

Depression. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt “down,” sad, or hopeless over the last two weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.

Diabetes. Have a blood test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure. Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 14090 or higher.

High Cholesterol. Have your cholesterol checked regularly.

HIV. Talk with your doctor about HIV screening if any of these apply:

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