Tag Archives: aging

Aging Well: 8 Things You Can Do Now

by Michael Riebman, M.D.

“Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.” This quote from the poet Robert Browning, while written back in 1840, is the way many people are looking at aging today. We are on the cusp of learning more and more about the secrets to longevity—and the fact that our health isn’t predetermined only by our genes. Our lifestyle habits and choices have a huge impact on aging well, and successfully.

The average life expectancy in the US today is age 76 for men, 81 for women; and many people are living well above these averages into their late 80s and 90s. But for most of us simply living longer isn’t enough.

“What we really want is to live longer- and healthier,” says Michael Riebman, M.D. of MPCP in Annapolis. “Quality of life and staying active enough to do the things we enjoy is the goal of most of my patients.” And, according to Dr. Riebman and other health experts, there is growing scientific evidence that much of how well we age lies in our own hands.

While it definitely helps to have good genes, here are eight research-based tips on what you can do to encourage a longer, healthier life :

  1. Exercise Your Body. Staying physically active is crucial to maintaining your health and weight. Shoot for 30 minutes of activity every day to help your cardiovascular health, bone & muscle health and mental health. Fitness also helps your balance and reduces the risk of falls and fractures as you age.
  2. Exercise Your Mind & Social Skills. Stay engaged and try new activities to keep your mind sharp. Start a new hobby, take a course in something that interests you, listen to different music. Also make sure you stay engaged socially. According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the relationships we cultivate have a greater impact on aging well than the events we experience.
  3. Eat Well & Maintain Weight. Obesity is a huge problem in our country and contributes to many diseases. “Eating a balanced diet and having a proper weight can’t be overlooked for good health,” says Dr. Riebman. He encourages a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. “Getting essential nutrients from our food is key and even taking some supplements as we age can help,” he adds.
  4. Get Regular Check-ups. Preventive care and early detection of disease helps you live longer. See your primary care doctor as a partner in health and be frank about your health concerns. Staying on top of high blood pressure or cholesterol, or other chronic problems, as well as getting the right screening exams at certain ages, is critical. Even some vaccinations are now suggested for older adults.
  5. Stop Smoking Already! Cigarette smoking is the #1 cause of preventable death. And, it’s never too late to quit and start getting immediate health benefits. There are many options to help you quit, so talk to your doctor or seek out resources.
  6. Be Safe. Studies show that important daily habits, such as wearing a seat belt, using a bike helmet, taking medications correctly, using sunscreen regularly, etc. all add up to a significantly longer, healthier life.
  7. Sleep Well. Sleep is restorative to our bodies and adults need 7-8 hours a night. This doesn’t really change as we get older so make sleep a priority at every age.
  8. Attitude Adjustments. According to a major Gallup poll of people age 18-85, levels of stress and worry hit a low point and well-being hits a high point by age 85. People with a positive attitude live longer and enjoy life more. Talk to someone if you feel depressed or anxious; there are many ways to help. And try to add a little humor – laughter is one of our best defenses!
 Michael Riebman, M.D.Dr. Riebman is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is the current President of Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC. He received his medical degree from Medical University of South Carolina in 1985 and completed his residency program in Family Practice at the Lancaster General Hospital in 1988.


by Paul Chite, M.D.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage from the joints. Common symptoms of OA include joint pain and stiffness, some loss of joint motion, and distorted joint shape. Osteoarthritis most often affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine. The joint pain associated with OA is aggravated with activity and relieved with rest. Morning stiffness is a common symptom of OA and usually resolves within 30 minutes of rising, although it may recur throughout the day during periods of inactivity. Advancing age is one of the strongest risk factors for OA. Women are two to three times more likely than men to develop OA. Obesity is strongly linked to the development of OA. Exercise and weight loss appears to lower this risk and may reduce joint pain in weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

Physical therapy and exercise improve flexibility and facilitate strengthening of muscles surrounding the joints. Well-cushioned shoes and orthotic shoe inserts may reduce stress on spine and leg joints while braces can provide external joint stabilization. Applying heat and cold to arthritic joints can alleviate joint pain and stiffness. Heating pads should be set on a timer and used for no more than 20 minutes at a time. The heating pad can be reapplied after 20 minutes of no use.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Glucocorticoid (steroid) injections can also suppress inflammation and relieve arthritis symptoms when injected into arthritic joints. Glucocorticoid injections may be recommended for people who have OA confined to a few joints, or who have pain uncontrolled with NSAIDs. Joint injections may also be recommended for people with OA who cannot take NSAIDs. Joint injections are limited to three to four injections per joint per year so as to not cause further joint degradation.

Surgery may be used to realign bones that have become misaligned to shift weight to healthier cartilage and relieve arthritis pain. It may also be used to permanently fuse two or more bones together at a severely damaged joint for which joint replacement surgery is not appropriate. Surgery is generally reserved for severe OA that significantly limits physical activities and does not respond to other treatments.
If you or a loved one suffers from OA, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss options for the treatment of osteoarthritis and the effects of arthritis on daily living.

 Paul Chite, M.D.Dr. Chite joined Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC in 2011 and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. He received his medical degree from American University of the Caribbean, Saint Maarten, N.A. in 2005 and completed his residency program in Family Medicine at Creighton University Medical Center in 2011.