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Over 60? Don't Make These Fatal Errors

Improve your health by making these simple changes.

It may not be easy to accept, but after age 60, your health requires more a bit attention to maintain. The good news: You can really improve your health by making some simple changes— such as avoiding five pitfalls that can be dangerous, even fatal. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Shovel Your Snow

Man Clearing Snow From Path With Shovel

Arctic blasts are causing the snow to pile up across the country. But if you're a man over 60, you probably should leave the shovel in the garage. Every winter, there's a surge in heart attacks in older men connected to shoveling snow. The reason: The activity can cause a sharp increase in blood pressure and heart rate, while cold air constricts coronary arteries—a perfect storm that can lead to a heart attack. Experts recommend handing the shovel to someone younger—or investing in an electric snowblower. "Particularly people that have multiple medical conditions such as coronary artery disease or hypertension, or maybe they're overweight or obese and don't get a lot of physical activity—it's not worth it to risk your heart," Dr. Luke Laffin, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, told USA Today this month.

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Eat Alone

Elderly woman eats her vegetable salad sitting on the sofa at home.

Many studies have found that loneliness can increase your risk of serious illness, including heart disease and even dementia. The reason? Being lonely causes stress, which can compromise the immune system and heart, and can encourage unhealthy behaviors. One example: A study published last November by the North American Menopause Society found that older women who eat alone have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating alone is a risk factor for depression, which is associated with heart disease; additionally, people who eat alone are more likely to eat faster and consume less healthy foods.

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Stress Too Much

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You're never too old to change your life for the better—and one smart move is chilling out, because you're never too old for stress to make you prematurely older. A Yale University study published last month found that chronic stress can make your biological clock tick faster, increasing the risk of heart disease, addiction, and mood disorders. It can also influence metabolism, raising your chance of obesity-related disorders like diabetes. The good news: People with better mental health (as measured by emotion regulation and self-control) aged slower.

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Postpone Your Dentist's Appointment

Elderly man on a review of a dentist, sitting in a chair.

If you've been putting off dental appointments, don't delay any longer. Periodontal disease, an infection of the bones and gums around the teeth, develops most often after age 60, and it's associated with potentially fatal heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia. Scientists believe inflammation caused by the disease is responsible. Regular dental exams—during which your dentist measures your gum pockets and reviews your X-rays for any bone loss—can keep the condition in check and protect your overall health.

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Don't Skip The COVID Vaccine

Nurse with face mask sitting at home with senior woman and injecting covid 19 vaccine.

The statistics are stark: 95 percent of people who died of COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic were over age 50. Today, vaccines have drastically reduced rates of serious illness and death from the coronavirus. If you're over 60, get fully vaccinated against COVID and have a booster shot. And while you're at it, ask your healthcare provider about other routine vaccines recommended for people older than 60, including flu, pneumococcal pneumonia, and shingles. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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