After age 60, you need to spend more time caring for yourself; these can be your best years, but only if you're in the best of health. With that in mind, our experts at Eat This, Not That! Health scoured the world's top institutes, journals and universities that specialize in healthy aging and longevity, and came back with this essential list of 7 things you need to stop doing now in order to better your health after age 60. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
If You're Not Exercising for This Long, You're Making a Mistake
"Regular exercise for at least 15-20 minutes a day is very important," say the researchers at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences. "A good way to make sure you do it is to call or text someone after you exercise to let them know you have done it. Choose a 'virtual buddy' today.
If you own a stationary bike or treadmill, now is the time to dust these off.
If you have had physical therapy for an injury or other medical condition, you may still use the exercises the therapist prescribed.
If you have a pet who needs to be walked, go for it."
Don't Get Too Lonely—it Can Make You Physically Sick
"Researchers have shown that loneliness and social isolation increase older adults' risk of adverse health effects, depression, and even cognitive problems," says the Weill Institute for Neurosciences. "Your doctors have been advocating the benefits of social activities and getting out of the house to socialize. During the pandemic, they are forced to advise you otherwise. We need to find other ways to socialize virtually. Using Facetime, Skype, or other video chat tools (or a phone call if video is not an option), set aside a regular time to check in with your family or friends if you weren't already doing so." And once you're vaccinated, get some actual "facetime" with other vaccinated individuals, or even your grandchildren.
Stop Thinking Your Brain is Done Growing—It Can Still Stretch. Keep it Challenged.
Your brain can actually adapt and grow as you age, despite what was once thought. A study published in the Frontiers of Psychology in 2017 found that although "A traditional view of the plastic nature of the brain is that it is predominantly limited to short epochs during early development," they found "evidence indicating that mechanisms of neuroplasticity are extremely variable across individuals and throughout the lifetime." In other words, depending on certain factors—"including inhibitory network function, neuromodulator systems, age, sex, brain disease, and psychological traits"—your brain can grow even as you get older. So learn a new language, keep doing your crossword—anything to keep it engaged.
If You're Not Eating Like This, Start
"Whatever your age, it's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet," say the experts at Health Direct, with vegetables (5 a day) and fruits (2 a day), some whole grain starches, and lean proteins like chicken, fish and eggs. Avoid salt and added sugars. For those over 60, they specifically recommend you:
"Eat food rich in fiber. Eating foods containing fiber could be good for your digestion. Constipation tends to become more of a problem as you get older, but fibre-rich foods can prevent constipation and other digestive problems.
Eat iron-rich foods. Iron is important for general health. A lack of iron can reduce energy levels and even lead to iron deficiency anaemia, so include some iron-rich foods in your diet. The best source of iron is lean red meat.
Eat calcium-rich foods. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining bone. Eating calcium-rich foods can help you avoid osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Choose lower fat varieties when you can, or eat higher fat varieties in smaller amounts."
Don't Think Poor Sleep is Just a "Part of Aging." It Doesn't Need to Be.
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night is essential, and if you can't do it, that's not necessarily because you're getting old. It could be other factors within your control. If you find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, don't eat or drink two hours before bed. If you find yourself waking from restless dreams, reduce your stress during the day, and be sure to exercise. Make sure your room is a comfortable temperature before bedtime. Consider your sleep hygiene and see if that helps.
Don't Think You're Invincible Just Because You've Been Vaccinated
"For now, if you've been fully vaccinated," says the CDC:
"You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested 3 days before travel by air into the United States (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19."
Anticipate Disease Before it Strikes
"Age brings a higher risk of chronic diseases such as dementias, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancer," says the CDC. "These are the nation's leading drivers of illness, disability, deaths, and health care costs. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are most common in adults 60 and older, and the risk increases with age." Rather than live in fear of these issues, face them down. Eat a heart-healthy diet. Limit those added sugars. Keep your brain fed with engaging work and omega-3s. Being over 60 comes with these responsibilities, but it beats the alternative. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.