Never Do This if You're Over 60, Say Physicians Now
Aging is inevitable—but many aspects of how you age depend on maintaining good habits and eliminating the bad ones. "Why do we care about healthspan? Caring about extending the well period of one's life should be intuitive – if one is past their healthspan, it means they are chronically sick, often with a degenerating condition," says Tim Peterson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. "Therefore, most people would agree that staying within their healthspan is desirable." Here are five things you should never do over 60, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Don't Use Artificial Sweeteners
A growing body of research is linking artificial sweeteners to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke—health conditions which people over 60 are already at increased risk for. "The more data that comes out showing these adverse health effects, the less we're going to want to encourage people to switch from added sugars to non-nutritive sweeteners," says Dr. Katie Page, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California. "We really need to encourage people to eat sugar in more moderation and try to decrease sugar consumption. And the way to do that isn't to consume more non-nutritive sweeteners."
Don't Ignore Bone Health
Maintaining good bone health is key to staying healthy and independent well into the senior years. "Focus on overall good nutrition and getting the right amounts of calcium, vitamin D, protein and potassium," says Deborah Sellmeyer, MD, medical director of the Metabolic Bone Center. "Include weight-bearing exercise into your routines."
Don't Skip COVID Boosters
People over 60 are especially prone to developing complications with COVID-19, but only 48.1% of eligible people have been boosted, according to the CDC. "The danger of not vaccinating, over the last couple of weeks, has significantly increased because the prevalence of the illness has gone up substantially," says Kevin Dieckhaus, MD, chief of the division of infectious diseases at UConn Health.
Don't Skip On Good Sleep
"Children have a bedtime and parents (and grandparents!) work hard to ensure they are in bed on time and get the sleep they need every night," says Belinda Setters, MD, MS, AGSF, FACP. "But most of us don't think about how much sleep we get or need as we grow older. And yet, sleep is just as critical to our health as we age. Getting significantly more or less sleep than needed can be associated with health issues including high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and depression. But sleeping too little or too much may also be a sign of an undiagnosed problem such as a breathing disorder like sleep apnea, depression or anxiety, prostate disease, etc. If you have concerns about sleeping more than 9 hours nightly or not getting enough sleep (less than 6 hours), you should contact your healthcare provider to discuss your individual health needs."
Don't Neglect Nutrition
Eating a healthy, nutritious diet is crucial for healthy aging. "Studies show people who closely follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to have Alzheimer's disease than people who don't follow the diet," says Donn Dexter, MD. "Further research is needed to determine which parts of the diet have the biggest impact on your brain function. However, we do know that omega fatty acids found in extra-virgin olive oil and other healthy fats are vital for your cells to function correctly, appears to decrease your risk of coronary artery disease, and increases mental focus and slow cognitive decline in older adults."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.