I'm the editor of Smart, a magazine for women in southcentral Pennsylvania. I said "I do" to my wonderful husband in 2002. We have two adorable children who have taught me much about life and love. With the birth of my second child, I bid farewell to my dreams of having a clean house, folded laundry and family dinners on weeknights.

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Aging the healthy way

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Verna Everett, 78, center; daughter Tina Hawkins, 45, left; and granddaughter Srah Roberts, 26, pose for a three-generation photo in Roberts' Stewartstown home. They share advice with each other on how to stay happy and healthy during each stage of their lives.

By NICKI STIGER for Smart

When you’re 20, the immediate health effects of smoking or excessive eating and drinking are hard to imagine. Yet, fast forward decades down the road and diabetes, high cholesterol and clogged arteries will start to interfere with your lifestyle. Dr. Julie Drolet of the Women’s Institute for Gynecology in York said how you treat your body in your younger years is a good indicator of what kind of senior you will be. “What I do now in my 40s is going to influence how I will be when I finally get to retire,” she said. Here are a few tips for staying hip and healthy through the decades.

20s ………….

Reproductive: HPV vaccine recommended for ages 9-26 to prevent against certain types of HPV as well as genital warts. Annual pap smear at age 21 (or sooner in certain conditions) and STD screening. If you are trying to become pregnant, consider genetic screening and prenatal counseling.

Heart: Have your blood pressure checked at least once every two years. Have your doctor work up a baseline cholesterol panel once in the decade.


Eyes and Ears
: Have a baseline vision and hearing exam.

30s ……………………

Reproductive: Talk to your doctor or gynecologist if you plan on getting pregnant. Continue annual exam with pap test and STD screening.

Heart: Have your doctor work up a cholesterol panel if it wasn’t done in the 20s. Have blood pressure checked once every two years.

Eyes and Ears: Get two vision exams in this decade. Get a hearing exam once in this decade.

General: Take 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Take Vitamin D or get 15 minutes of sunlight daily. Avoid gaining those few pounds every year and becoming obese.


40s
…………………………

Reproductive: If you are trying to become pregnant, consider genetic screening and talk to your doctor. Have an annual exam with pap test and STD screening every one to three years. Fertility continues to decrease. Menstruation might change, leading to heavier or lighter bleeding, which indicates the perimenopausal period. Hot flashes might occur.

Heart: Have your doctor check your cholesterol every five years. Have your blood pressure checked once every two years.

Eyes and Ears: Get vision exams every two to four years. Get a hearing exam once in this decade.

General: Mammograms should be started every one to two years, unless family history begins earlier. Take 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Take Vitamin D or get 15 minutes of sunlight daily. Have your thyroid tested every five years. Get checked for diabetes every three years. Have a bone density test.

50s …………………….

Reproductive: Have an internal exam with pap test every one to three years. Ask your doctor about stopping birth control and starting hormone replacement. Heart: Have the doctor check your cholesterol yearly. Have your blood pressure checked once every two years.

Eyes and Ears: Get a vision exam every two to four years. Get a hearing exam once every three years.

Colorectal: Have an annual fecal occult blood test. Have a rectal exam every five to 10 years. Have a colonoscopy every 10 years.

General: Take 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Take Vitamin D or get 15 minutes of sunlight daily. Have a yearly influenza shot. Have a pneumonia shot every five years. Have your thyroid checked every five years. Have a diabetes check every three years. Have a mammogram every one to two years.

60s-70s …………………………..

Reproductive: Changes in the body can lead to incontinence, talk to your health provider.

Heart: Have the doctor check your cholesterol yearly. Have blood pressure checked once every two years.

Eyes and Ears: Get a vision exam every one to two years. Get a hearing exam once every three years.

Colorectal: Have an annual fecal occult blood test. Have a rectal exam every five to 10 years. Have a colonoscopy every 10 years.


General:
Take 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Take Vitamin D or get 15 minutes of sunlight daily. Have a yearly influenza shot. Have a pneumonia shot on schedule. Have your thyroid checked every five years. Have a herpes zoster vaccine one time only. Have a mammogram every one to two years.

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