Senior Moments

Published January 1, 2004

Some mistakes involving health care are unique to senior citizens. Here are five errors seniors make in caring for themselves, recently discovered by the Institute for Healthcare Advancement from an interview with 500 seniors.

1. Driving when it’s no longer safe. Knowing when to stop driving is important for the health of everyone on the road. Advanced age has been directly related to the fitness to drive a car.

2. Refusing to acknowledge aging is inevitable. Refusing to wear a hearing aid or glasses means you’re putting yourself–and perhaps others–in harm’s way because you can’t properly hear or see what is going on around you.

3. Failing to recognize health illiteracy. Not being able to read well or understand medical directions can lead to serious health problems and even death. Speak up if you don’t understand something.

4. Not managing medications. Pillbox reminders and check-off lists can help prevent over-dosing or failing to take medicine at the right time. Keep a complete list of all prescriptions and non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. Make sure your health care providers know all of the medicines you are taking.

5. Refusing to ask for help. Many older people simply refuse to ask for help because they want to remain independent. But adamant refusal also can be an early sign of dementia. It’s important to alert family members and friends to signs of any health problem so you can be assessed properly before the condition worsens.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.