Preventive care guidelines for adults

What you need to know

Download this material: Preventive Care for Adults

Education is an important part of your preventive care plan. Knowing what behaviors to avoid in order to maintain your health is easy – just ask your doctor.

Advance Directives

Advanced directives and “living wills” are documents that allow you to specify your wishes for health care treatment in the event you later become unable to participate in decision-making about your care. You are encouraged to complete advanced directives for your medical care and discuss your preferences with your family and your doctor. Forms are usually available from your doctor’ s office, hospital, or attorney.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Do not use recreational or street drugs of any kind, at any time. Drink alcohol in moderation, no more than one to two drinks per day, if at all. Never drive after drinking alcohol.


All adults should include a minimum of 1,000 mg/day of calcium in their diet. Postmenopausal women and patients with chronic illnesses should include 1,500 mg/day of calcium and 400-800 IU of Vitamin D to promote absorption of calcium.


We all feel “down” or “blue” at times; however, if these feelings are very strong or last for a long time, they may be due to a medical illness—depression. This illness can be treated, but is often not recognized by patients and health care providers. Some of the warning signs of
depression are listed below. If you have four or more of these warning signs, be sure to talk to your provider about depression.

Warning signs

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or guilty most of the time
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in daily activities
  • Sleep problems (either too much or too little)
  • Fatigue, low energy, or feeling “slowed down”
  • Problems making decisions or thinking clearly
  • Crying a lot
  • Changes in appetite or weight (up or down)
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Dietary Habits

Try to maintain a healthy diet, including 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Try to minimize your saturated fat intake by limiting your intake of red meat and fatty foods. Use reduced fat dairy products when possible. Your diet should also be moderate in sugars, salt, and sodium. Eating a healthy diet may help you keep your blood cholesterol levels and your weight within normal ranges, which in turn may minimize your risk of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.

Estrogen Replacement

The decision to begin hormone treatment will depend on your personal medical history, your symptoms, and your risks of bone loss and cardiovascular disease. Please discuss hormone replacement options with your physician.


We strongly encourage all children and adults to use helmets when operating bicycles, motorcycles, roller skates, skateboards or skis. Many closed-head injuries that leave permanent brain damage are easily prevented through the use of helmets.

Oral Health Care

Good oral health care is important for your teeth and general health. With proper care, your teeth will last you for life.

  • Visit your dentist every 6-12 months for check-ups
  • Brush after meals with a soft or medium bristled toothbrush, using a toothpaste with fluoride
  • Use dental floss daily
  • Limit sweets, especially between meals
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco products


Many serious injuries can be prevented by following basic safety rules.

  • Use smoke detectors in your home. Change the batteries every year and check to see that they work every month
  • If you choose to keep a gun in your home, make sure that the gun and the ammunition are locked up separately and are out of children’s reach
  • Keep the temperature of hot water less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially important if there are children or older adults living in your home.
  • Locate poisons in a safe place, out of the reach of children
  • Home pools should be gated and secure

Seat belts

Always wear your seatbelt when driving or riding in an automobile. Texas law requires all vehicle occupants to use a seatbelt or safety seat, so buckle up!


To minimize your risk of skin cancer, you must limit your exposure to the sun and harmful ultraviolet rays. Avoid spending time in the sun, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, and protect yourself by covering exposed skin and wearing sunscreens with at least a 30 SPF rating and UVA and UVB protection.

Do periodic self-examinations for any skin changes. Be alert for any changes in the number, size, shape, and color of pigmented areas. If any changes are noted, report these to your doctor.

Tobacco Use

We strongly advise against tobacco use because of the many adverse effects on your health. If you currently use tobacco products, try to quit. Never smoke near bedding or upholstery. There are many new approaches to help you stop using tobacco. ADC has a smoking cessation program; ask your doctor which is best for you.

Physical Activity

Physical inactivity is considered one of the risk factors for coronary heart disease. Lack of
activity can lead to obesity, which may also contribute to the development of adult diabetes and high blood pressure.

Moderate physical activity has many health benefits, which include improvement in your cardiovascular fitness, helping you maintain a healthy weight and reducing stress. As part of your healthy life-style, participation in moderate aerobic activity is recommended for 20-30 minutes, from three to four times a week.

Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Prevent Falls by Older Adults

  • Repair slippery or uneven walking surfaces
  • Rugs and carpet should be well secured to the floor
  • Improve poor lighting and use nightlights
  • Keep walkways free of clutter, cords and wires
  • Install secure railings on all stairways
  • Wear supportive rubber-soled or low-heeled shoes
  • Maintain regular exercise to improve muscle strength and tone
  • Alcohol, sedatives and pain medication may all increase the risk of falls
  • Use caution in getting up too quickly. Dizziness when first standing is sometimes a sign of low blood pressure or may be a side-effect of prescription medication. If you experience this, contact your doctor.
  • Be alert for hazards in your work place and follow all safety rules

Practice Safe Sex

To minimize your risk of sexually transmitted diseases, know your partner’s sexual history. Further limit your risk of exposure by limiting your number of sexual partners. The use of latex condoms may protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Avoid high risk sexual activities such as anal sex. If you think you may be at risk, or if you think you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, contact your physician for testing and treatment options.