If you’re 60 or over, taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial to ensure a happy, thriving aging process. “Great improvements in medicine, science and technology have enabled today’s older Americans to live longer and healthier lives than any previous generation. Yet many Americans fail to make the connection between undertaking healthy behaviors today and the impact of these choices later in life,” says Andrew Weil, MD. Here are five things to never do after age 60, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Adults over 60 should make healthy eating a priority, especially as being undernourished and underweight is more likely than being overweight in the elderly. “We see patients who have experienced nutrition insufficiencies and weight loss for both medical and circumstantial reasons,” says family physician Ami Hall, DO. “Be sure to talk with your doctor about how to eat right for your best health. Your doctor may make other recommendations based on your unique medical history and overall personal health profile. It’s important that older adults who experience changes in appetite and weight see a doctor before making any dietary changes. Take good care of yourself and address your nutrition concerns head-on so a proper plan can be put in place for you to get back on track to being your best you.”
People over 60 should make a point to follow medical advice regarding health screenings and preventative care as they grow older—especially for things like blood sugar tests and mammograms. “We take good care of our equipment and our cars. Taking care of ourselves is also really important,” says Paul Takahashi, MD.
Studies show that regular exercise helps keep the mind and body young and healthy, and can help manage many age-related health conditions such as bone loss. “Hippocrates in 400 BC said that exercise is man’s best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society,” says Professor Janet Lord, Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Aging at the University of Birmingham. “Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”
“Most of us who exercise have nowhere near the physiological capacities of elite athletes. We exercise mainly to enjoy ourselves,” says Norman Lazarus, Emeritus Professor at King’s College London. “Nearly everybody can partake in an exercise that is in keeping with their own physiological capabilities. Find an exercise that you enjoy in whatever environment that suits you and make a habit of physical activity. You will reap the rewards in later life by enjoying an independent and productive old age.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than half of adults over 65 deal with at least one sleep issue. Poor sleep is linked to a variety of serious health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. “This relationship between sleep in midlife and dementia in late life is important not only from a clinical perspective, but also from a scientific one,” says Andrew E. Budson, MD. “It had always been a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem when trying to interpret the relationship between poor sleep and dementia. Was it really poor sleep that caused dementia, or just early dementia symptoms causing poor sleep? By looking at individuals who were initially studied in midlife — some as young as age 50 — we now have greater certainty that poor sleep can increase one’s risk of developing dementia 25 years or more in the future.”
Not only is smoking terrible for your health, it can raise your risk of serious complications from COVID-19, which is already dangerous for people over 60. “We are seeing worse cases of COVID-19 in smokers,” says Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., M.H.S. “Your lungs, which are at the forefront of your immune system, are interacting with the environment with every breath. When you inhale cigarette smoke, germs or allergens, your lungs can get irritated, and that irritation unleashes the immune system to fight that irritation. A coronavirus infection on top of that means that your symptom response is going to be amplified.” And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.