Texas Health and Human Services encourages people and communities to take action today to help ensure a healthy tomorrow. Resources to help everyone age well and be healthy are listed below.
Ways to Be Healthy
Seek Regular Preventive Services
Identifying a health condition before it becomes critical is one way to age well and work toward a longer, healthier life. Regular preventive measures include screenings, counseling and preventive medications. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force makes evidence-based recommendations, classified into age groups, on preventive clinical measures and when to seek them.
Community organizations can promote the importance of regular preventive screenings and where to get them by creating an awareness campaign. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides resources to help communities provide and market preventive services to older adults. Learn more about preventative service by visiting Texercise.com or go to the Aging Well Resources Order Form and choose Texercise in the program box.
Engaging in regular physical activity can help improve overall health and lower the risk of developing chronic diseases. The CDC recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. There are many ways to incorporate activity into your day, whether it is following along to a fitness video, walking in the park, or taking classes at a senior or community center.
Communities can support its residents' health by ensuring there are safe, accessible environments that encourage physical activity. Use the easy-to-follow Texercise Trail Toolkit (PDF) to implement indoor and outdoor trails.
Texercise, an HHS health promotion initiative, encourages people and communities to adopt healthy habits. Through its educational and motivational resources, Texercise can help Texans 45 and older improve their health and age and live well. Texercise provides a variety of fact sheets that focus on physical activity. Learn more about healthy activity on the Aging Well Resources Order Form. Choose Texercise in the program box.
Complementing regular physical activity with a proper diet is essential to overall health. Using healthy eating habits (for example: portion control, making half your plate fruits and vegetables, decreasing the amount of saturated fat and sodium you eat) are important for healthy aging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Choose MyPlate initiative provides nutrition recommendations and resources.
Access to healthy food is vital but finding affording healthy foods may be difficult for some. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Food Benefits are available for Texans and families that have trouble buying enough healthy food every month. For more information (including program rules and eligibility requirements) or to apply, visit Your Texas Benefits.
Communities can support healthy eating by ensuring residents have access to fresh and affordable local foods. By helping older adults use programs such as the Texas Department of Agriculture's Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, communities can help older residents eat better. Texas AgriLife Extension also provides research-based resources to help people eat healthy and Texercise provides a variety of fact sheets that focus on healthy eating. Learn about healthy eating on the Aging Well Resources Order Form. Choose Texercise in the program box.
Tobacco has been linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Quitting tobacco is one of the most important things a person can do to improve their overall health. Avoiding tobacco reduces the risk for heart disease and stroke, respiratory problems, and lung and many other types of cancer.
Communities and worksites can support tobacco reduction by implementing tobacco-free policies. Learn more by exploring the American Lung Association at work resources.
Learn more about avoiding tobacco by visiting Texas Department of State Health Services’ Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.
Nurture your Behavioral and Mental Health
Behavioral health is an essential element of a person’s overall health and wellness. However, social stigma and prejudiced attitudes can create barriers for people wanting to access support and treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that an estimated 14% of U.S. adults age 50 and over live with a mental health condition. Knowing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and getting mental health checkups can detect problems early and provide timely treatment. The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides educational resources and access to services.
Community organizations can develop mental health awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and highlight services, supports and resources. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a toolkit for community conversations about mental health to help communities start the dialogue. Learn more by visiting HHSC’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse page.
Part of aging and living well is taking care of your brain. According to a 2020 study, brain health is “the preservation of optimal brain integrity and mental and cognitive function and the absence of overt neurological disorders.” The Cleveland Clinic has practical steps that will help to support and strengthen your brain health. When thinking about brain health, it is important to include Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Knowing what to look for can help when it is time to talk with a doctor about testing for memory loss. Learn more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association website.
Communities can help by making their communities dementia friendly, visit Dementia Friendly America.
Care for the Caregiver
Caregiving is the act of helping another person with activities of daily living (bathing, eating, dressing, and hygiene). Older adults might need caregivers to help with these activities because of a surgery, limitations, Alzheimer's disease or dementia. While caregivers can be paid staff, many are family members and friends who do not receive payment. Learn more about resources and services for caregivers by visiting the Support for Caregivers page.
Be Financially Healthy
According to the United States Census Bureau about 49% of people between the ages 55 to 66 had no retirement savings in 2017. Financial readiness for retirement is based primarily on three components: age; income and access to a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k). Having access to a workplace retirement savings program can help people save for later years. Supplemental Security Income, income from asset ownership, salary from current jobs and pension plans are the main earning sources for older adults.
Learning to manage money is essential, seek guidance from a trained professional such as a banker, a trusted financial adviser or a retirement plan administrator. Consider visiting the AARP Foundation website to review resources for understanding a personal financial situation. For older Texans struggling with finances, call 211 to find a local eligibility office that can help assess eligibility for food supports, cash benefits, Medicare or Medicaid.
Communities can help people maintain financial independence by ensuring there is affordable housing, access to affordable, healthy food, and other supportive resources.
Prevent Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation
Every year at least 5 million older Americans are subjected to abuse, neglect and/or exploitation, and only one in 25 cases are reported to social service agencies. The National Center for Elder Abuse found that the most frequently reported types of abuse were verbal mistreatment, followed by financial mistreatment and physical mistreatment. Abuse, neglect and exploitation is a serious human rights issue and public health concern. People, communities and professionals can intervene to educate residents about the signs and symptoms and how to report it. All people have a role and should report abuse, neglect and exploitation when they see it. If the situation is life-threatening, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Communities can establish marketing and awareness campaigns to educate residents, alter ageist attitudes and change behaviors. Texans should learn the warning signs and stay connected to older adults in their life and community. Learn more by visiting Adult Protective Services. If you suspect someone is being abused, neglected or exploited, make a report to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Adult Protective Services at 800-252-5400 or on the Texas Abuse Hotline website.