GUEST COLUMN: Boomers – Maximize Your Health for Quality of Life

Published 3:53 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The average U.S. life expectancy of 84 years means many Baby Boomers reaching age 65 have nearly two decades of life ahead. Advanced years bring more risks to your health that can impact quality of life as you age.

Thomas Sligh, MD, an internal medicine physician with Merit Health Medical Group, reminds us some factors like genetics are beyond your control, but healthy lifestyle choices, timely identification and management of the following common, chronic conditions can increase your odds of living a long and healthy life.


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Joint pain, stiffness and swelling in or around one or more joints can be signs of arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the US. Almost one in four adults develop the condition. Arthritis has many forms and your doctor can help diagnose and identify the best treatment. Management of arthritis can help you reduce or manage pain, minimize joint damage and improve or maintain functioning. 

Type 2 Diabetes

More than 34 million Americans have diabetes, with approximately 90-95% having type 2 diabetes. The symptoms are hard to spot and the older you are, the more likely you are to have this condition. Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can cause other serious conditions like heart disease, kidney disease or vision loss. Regular check-ups can help identify the condition timely.

High Blood Pressure

In 2017, U.S. medical organizations lowered blood pressure numbers to 120/80 normal, 130/80 pre-hypertensive and 140/80 stage 1 hypertension. Left unchecked, this asymptomatic condition plays a big role in your chances for heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. Your doctor can help you develop a plan to lower your number, including diet, exercise or medication. 

Heart Disease

Several types of heart conditions are considered heart disease, including coronary artery disease, issues with valves in the heart or heart failure. Each of these conditions elevates the risk for heart attack and stroke. Symptoms vary, depending on the type of heart disease. Your doctor can perform diagnostic tests and if diagnosed, may advise you to make lifestyle changes or may prescribe medication for treatment.


Clinical depression is not a normal part of aging, but can be more common for people who also have other illnesses, such as heart disease or cancer. The condition is serious and can affect the way you feel, act and think. Counseling, medicine or other forms of treatment can help. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, talk with your doctor who can help put together a plan of treatment.

Dr. Sligh states, “My goal is to help patients maintain their best life through preventive medicine, when possible. When conditions or issues arise, I’ll help them identify the most promising course of treatment and connect them with specialists, if needed.”

Aging is a normal and cumulative process that extends across our lives. Sustaining healthy lifestyle choices and managing chronic conditions give you the best chance to remain healthy with high levels of independence and functionality as you age.

To find a physician for help with chronic conditions or learn more about healthy choices for you, visit or call 844-MSMERIT.

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