Sep 27, 2021 16 Tips for Healthy Aging

Ten thousand people in the United States turn 65 every single day and this trend will continue until 2030. As we all get older, we become more susceptible to complications with our health. However, healthy habits can be developed at any age, setting yourself up for even more years of graceful aging.

In 2019 RWJBarnabas Health established a comprehensive Geriatric Collaborative comprising geriatric experts from across the system that meet regularly to share best practices. RWJBarnabas Health facilities offer a multidisciplinary approach with evidence-based care programs to address all aspect of aging.

September is recognized as National Healthy Aging Month. This year, sixteen geriatricians across RWJBarnabas Health offer their top tips, inspiration and practical insight on how to improve physical, mental and social well-being as we age.

  1. Set Care Goals – The most important piece of advice I give is around goals of care. It’s critically important to talk with your doctor, as well as your family, about what is important to you, and this may be different for each of us. The best medical care depends on open conversations about goals of care. Appoint a health care proxy (someone who can speak for you if ever you can’t speak for yourself) and share your goals with them as well. - Jessica L. Israel, MD, Senior Vice President of Geriatrics and Palliative Care, RWJ Barnabas Health
  2. Take Steps to Maintain Your Mental Health – People can take steps to protect their cognitive health. These include physical exercise, getting enough sleep, good nutrition, not smoking, controlling your blood pressure and blood sugar, and keeping mentally active and socially involved. - Fred Kobylarz, MD, associate professor of family medicine and community health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Rutgers Health
  3. Protect Your Bones – Bone health is vital, and osteoporosis can be preventable. A diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D is recommended for good bone health, plus Vitamin D Supplements may help to prevent falls in older adults. - Sara Ali, MD, Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton
  4. Stay Social – Staying socially engaged can improve your overall health; finding something you love to do—like a hobby, or volunteering—can lead to a better quality of life as you age. - Aaiza Aamer, MD, Geriatric Medicine Attending, Jersey City Medical Center
  5. Manage Pain Properly – Pain management is both a physical and mental pursuit: the goal of care is to help the patient return to doing what they love to do, like walking their dog, or playing with grandchildren. Medication is only one piece to a much larger puzzle. Engaging in regular physical activity and self-care is just as important. - Michael Marro, DO, Family, Geriatric, and Addiction Medicine, RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group
  6. Prevent Falls at Home – Most falls happen at home, so work on removing fall hazards to make your home safe; there are a lot of great resources available that can help you do this. Have an emergency plan in place in case you do fall. If you live alone, consider getting an alarm system to alert someone in case of a fall. - Sana Riaz, MD, Monmouth Medical Center
  7. Talk to Your Doctor About All the Medications You Are Taking – It is critical to discuss all your medications with your doctor at every visit including the over-the-counter supplements—in fact, bring them with you to the visit. Work with your doctor to remove medications that may no longer be needed and may be causing unwanted side effects. We call this de-prescribing, which can be just as important as prescribing! - Ibiyonu Lawrence, MD, associate professor of medicine, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  8. Have an Annual Screening for Depression – Depression in older adults can sometimes present as memory loss. It is the most treatable cognitive problem I see. We all need to pay careful attention to the actions of those we love, and doctors should screen for depression at least once a year in the office. Treating it can lead to dramatic and positive change. - Emily S. Bahler, DO, Geriatrician, Geriatric Health and Disease Management, Saint Barnabas Medical Center
  9. Be Up to Date on All Vaccines – Vaccinations, now more than ever, are an important part of your medical care. COVID-19 boosters are now available—and most elders qualify for a booster even before the 8-month CDC recommendation for a revaccination. Equally important are your annual influenza shots as well as your pneumonia vaccines (there are now 2 recommended). And don’t forget about your shingles vaccine! - Theresa M. Redling, DO, FACP, Director of James and Sharon Maida Geriatric Institute, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Assistant Clinical Director of Medicine, Rutgers-NJMS
  10. Stay Active – Exercise helps improve memory, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, bone strength, heart health and balance. If it was available in a pill form, I would give it to all my patients! - Priya Angi, MD, Chief of Geriatrics, Monmouth Medical Center
  11. Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet and Stay Hydrated – I always advise my patients not to skip meals and to eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains with lean portions of meat or fish and low-fat dairy products. Adequate hydration is also a must—a good rule of thumb is 1 cup (of water or other beverage you enjoy) for every 20 lbs. in your weight, but everyone is a little different, so check with your doctor first! - Abhijit Chatterjee, MD, Assistant Professor, Geriatrician, The James and Sharon Maida Geriatric Institute, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
  12. Selecting a Provider – Working with an interdisciplinary care team provides better care for medically complex patients. It takes a village! A physical or occupational therapist, a social worker, nurse, pharmacist, and physician working together can add important depth and perspective to your care. Look for this in the clinical care settings you choose. - Joshua Raymond, MD, associate professor of family medicine and community health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Rutgers Health
  13. Practice Regular Home Safety – Keeping your home safe is a team effort. It requires working together, identifying concerns, and putting protective measures in place. Shower bars, nonslip bathmats, good lighting, and clear walkways are important, and most of us think of that. I usually remind people about food safety and checking expiration dates as well. Everyone should have emergency contact numbers in an easily findable place, like on your refrigerator. -David F. Howarth, MD, MPH, associate professor of family medicine and community health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Rutgers Health
  14. Don’t Skip Your Annual Check-Up – Medicare Annual wellness visits are important—it’s an opportunity for your doctor to really see how your health problems impact your day-to-day life. Without these critical conversations and screening tools, important problems may go undetected. This is a free visit for Medicare beneficiaries and a great way for your doctor to get to know you better and keep you healthy. - Joshua Shua-Haim, MD, Community Medical Center
  15. Sit Up to Help with Hospital Recovery Time – Moving is living and sitting up in a chair counts as moving when in the hospital. Gravity helps your body, it helps your digestion, and can even prevent infections. Even though sitting up all day may be tiring when you are not feeling well, it may be the key to getting you home from the hospital and may help you avoid a rehab stay in another facility. Sit up as long and as often as you can while in the hospital. - Karthik Kota, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  16. Caretakers: Practice Self-Care – Taking excellent care of someone you love means you need to be your best self. Regular sleep, good nutrition, exercise, social interaction, and emotional support are important for you as well. Accept help from friends and family with open arms; take that time to take care of yourself and decompress. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling and connect with people going through similar situations. You are never alone. - Manisha Grover, MD, Geriatrician Health and Disease Management, Saint Barnabas Medical Center

For more information on RWJBarnabas Health’s geriatric services, call 888-724-7123 or visit