Our golden years can be met with some challenges as noticeable physical and mental changes start taking place around 60. But you can have a decade filled with many great years of good health by practicing habits that prolong your life and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience who shares bad behaviors to stop after 60. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
How Your Body Starts to Change After 60
Marchese says, "As we get older, our bodies change in subtle ways. After 60, watching for signals that may indicate cancer or other diseases becomes much more critical. Changes in digestion or metabolism could be a sign of cancer in the bowels or abdominal organs, and decreased cognitive ability is an early sign of illnesses like Alzheimer's that could become devastating without treatment. Other signals include hearing or vision loss, changes in weight, poor wound healing and decreased sleep quality. Older adults should never assume that these issues are typical signs of aging and should seek medical care early while treatment is still effective."
Don't Assume Depression is Normal With Aging
Marchese states, "Research indicates that happiness across the age spectrum forms a U-shaped curve, dipping during middle-aged years and rising again around age 50. About 33% of people in their 60s report being "very happy," a higher percentage than people in their early 30s. If you are experiencing signs of anxiety and depression after age 60, it may indicate an underlying medical condition worth discussing with your doctor."
Stop Making Excuses to Exercise
Marchese shares, "Exercising after 60 is more difficult due to stiff joints and achy muscles. Still, there are a wealth of activities for older adults that help keep your body's cardiovascular system, metabolism and cognitive ability healthy. Even mild exercise, such as walking in a pool or using 5 to 10 lb weights, is enough to create long-lasting benefits when performed regularly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults ages 65 and older get at least 150 minutes per week (30 minutes a day for five days) of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity training. Brisk walking, light weights, recreational bicycling, and yoga qualify as moderate intensity and hiking, jogging or running qualify as vigorous activities. The CDC guidelines also recommended activities that strengthen muscles and movements two days a week to improve balance, such as time spent standing on one foot. If you have concerns or hesitations about meeting these requirements, speak with your physician about what activities suit you."
Don't Ignore Changes in Your Skin
According to Marchese, "Adults in their 60s are more prone to skin cancers, skin infections and complications from damaged skin that lead to wounds or systemic diseases. As we age, the epidermis and dermis, the two outer layers of the skin, become thinner and provide less protection. Areas of your skin may become drier and itchier, or some places, like the top of your hand, can resemble tissue paper. You may also bruise easier with bruises lasting longer than before. In some cases, these issues are manageable, but they could also lead to more severe problems if not treated properly."
Don't Skip on Sleep
Marchese reminds us, "Sleep is as essential for older adults as it is for young children and teens. You should still aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, even though falling asleep or staying asleep can be more difficult as you age. Older adults tend to produce less melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Try to avoid naps during the day and evaluate whether your diet is making it harder to fall asleep early. If you're not getting enough rest, talk to your doctor about ways you can remedy your sleep schedule."
Don't Forget Your Vaccines
Marchese tells us, "The immune system becomes less effective after age 60 as your body's T cell production slows down. Older adults are more prone to infections such as influenza and pneumonia, and recovery time from diseases may be longer. However, vaccines protect from these issues, such as higher doses of the flu shot for people over 65 and specialized vaccines that protect from pneumonia and shingles. Check with your doctor which vaccines you need and make a reminder to get them scheduled."