Help Yourself Stay Healthy at 50+

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What you do can help keep you healthy. You've heard about eating right, staying active, quitting smoking. These and other steps can help prevent cancer, stroke and heart disease-problems that become more common as people age.

If you're older than 50, staying healthy may require more effort. This is a good time to take a look at your health habits and review your health risks with your doctor. It's also a good time to make sure you get the screening tests and exams you need.

A new booklet prepared by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), AARP and the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) can help you do just that. Staying Healthy at 50+ offers tips and recommendations on health habits, screening tests and immunizations. It includes easy-to-use charts that can help you keep track of personal health information, suggests questions to ask health care providers and offers resources to contact for additional health information.

"Staying Healthy at 50+ contains reliable health information because it comes from the evidence-based recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force," said AHRQ Director John M. Eisenberg, M.D. "The AHRQ-supported Task Force evaluates and reports on the scientific evidence for the use of many preventive services."

An example of the information you'll find: Staying Healthy at 50+ recommends getting a fecal occult blood test each year because this test can detect colon cancer early, when it's easier to treat. Colon cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among older people. In addition, people age 50+ should get a sigmoidoscopy-a test in which the doctor looks inside the rectum and colon using a small, lighted tube-every five to 10 years.

Other topics in the booklet include osteoporosis, vision problems, hearing loss, menopause, pneumococcal and flu vaccines, blood pressure, diabetes, depression and tobacco use.

"People with good physical and mental health can enjoy their older years and continue to be productive, active members of their families and communities," said HRSA Administrator Claude Earl Fox, MD. "Staying Healthy at 50+ gives people a guide to healthy living habits and a schedule for screening tests and immunizations all in one easy place."

You can order a free copy of Staying Healthy at 50+ (AHRQ Publication Number AHRQ00-0002) from the AHRQ Clearinghouse by calling 1-800-358-9295 or writing: AHRQ Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, MD 20907. For Spanish language versions, ask for AHRQ Publication Number AHRQ00-0010. (NAPSI)

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