Consumer Reports: Tips for living well in later years

Sixty years ago, an American who made it to 65 could expect to live an additional 14 years. Today, Consumer Reports notes, it's 19 years. So how do we grow older healthfully so that we can enjoy those extra years?

No matter whether you've just hit 50 or are well on your way toward the century mark, there are strategies that can help you stay healthy, keep you socially and intellectually engaged in the world around you and create a living situation that is comfortable and safe.

1. Managing your health. What are the most important items on your medical to-do list? First is a great primary care doctor, usually an internist or family practitioner, who should be your main point of contact with the health care system. If you don't already have such a doctor, find one now and make an appointment for an initial visit. Look for a physician whose practice is a “patient-centered medical home.” That means the doctor's office has organized itself to quarterback all of your care, including alerting you when it's time for a test or visit, keeping tabs on all of your medications and coordinating care with your specialists.

Second is well-managed medications. At least once a year, you should put all of your pill bottles in a bag (including all over-the-counter drugs and supplements) and take them to your primary care doctor for a review. Also keep an up-to-date list of your drugs (including dosages) in your wallet or handbag in case of a medical emergency.

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