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Never Do This After Age 60, Say Experts

Don't make these health mistakes.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Life after 60 can be full of wonder, fun, excitement and pleasure—and also peril. Around ever corner lurks a new danger, one you may have defeated soundly when you were younger. But now? Now you're a bit more vulnerable. How to stay young and vital? Don't make the following mistakes, say the nation's leading health experts. Read on for 5 of the most important—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Don't Ignore These Signs of Dementia

senior woman with adult daughter at home.
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There are many signs of dementia to watch out for, as some kinds of memory loss are not "normal signs of aging." "Number one, have you noticed any signs of what we might call poor judgment?" asks Dr. Leslie Kernisan, board-certified geriatrician and founder of BetterHealthWhileAging.Net. "This means behaviors or situations that suggest bad decisions. So some examples might include worrisome spending, not noticing a safety issue that others are concerned about…Number two, have you noticed reduced interest and leisure activities? Have you noticed that your parent has become less interested and involved in their usual activities, especially in the ones that were hobbies or things that they enjoyed and you should pay special attention to this? If there isn't a physical health issue interfering with doing the activit—because of course, as people get older, they can develop pains. They can develop mobility issues. And sometimes that interferes, but if you're not really seeing a pain or physical mobility reason that they're not engaging the activity as much, then you definitely wanna make a note that this could potentially be a concerning sign related to memory loss or thinking problems. Number three, on my list is repeating oneself. Now I hear about this from families and other providers all the time. Oh, my parent is fine. She just keeps repeating the same questions over and over again, or keeps saying the same stories over and over again. That is actually not normal. That is considered a red flag in geriatrics when it comes to memory loss and thinking."

2

Don't Skip Breakfast

older couple eating croissants for breakfast
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"Eating breakfast actually is a really great way to start your day. Like all of our moms have told us, right? But it's a great way for many reasons," said Dr. Stella Volpe, nutritionist and exercise physiologist, in her TedX Talk. "People who eat breakfast tend to have decreased disease and they also actually tend to have a better body weight. They actually tend to maintain their body weight better than those who skip breakfast, who think, oh, I don't really need to eat breakfast nor do I want to, because those are more calories. And also those who eat breakfast tend to make better choices throughout the day, compared to those who don't. By the way, if you do eat breakfast, you expend about 15,000 calories more per year than those who don't—that's because digestion and absorption take energy. So by skipping breakfast, what happens is your body slows the metabolism down a little bit more and says, I don't know when they're eating next. So I better protect them and hold onto that fat a little bit more. And that really goes against what people are trying to do."

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3

Enjoy Eating, But Eat Mindfully

older woman with green healthy food on the table

"Enjoy eating," says Dr. Volpe. "In our country, I think that we A feel guilty about almost everything we put in our mouths and B we don't tend to sit and enjoy…We all want to eat fast. Like our whole society's sort of moving quickly. So even if you're at your desk studying or doing work, even if you turn away from that computer for about 10 minutes to try to actually know what you're eating, because the old adage of it takes 15 or 20 minutes for your brain to know that you've actually eaten is true. So be aware of that because that's another thing that if weight loss is in your, what you wanna do, then you wanna make sure that you actually know that you're full."

RELATED: Surprising Side Effects You'll Feel After 60

4

Keep Your Body Moving

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Even simple activities can keep you healthy. "As a matter of fact, a couple of studies show that if they asked people in their office building just to take the stairs and asked half of them just to continue using the elevator, that's the only thing they changed in their lives, that those who took the stairs improved their aerobic fitness significantly compared to those who did not," said Dr. Volpe. 

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5

Don't Neglect Your Brain

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The other night at dinner with some over-60s, the conversation turned to Wordle, the daily puzzle game, which has captivated not just millennials but also retirees. Go for it! A daily challenge for your brain—be it a crossword puzzle, Sudoku or a fun challenging board or computer game—can keep you fresh. "If you engage in these activities, you may keep yourself fresher and sharper," says Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, who says staying active mentally and physically keeps you sharper, longer. "Lifestyle modifications can affect your cognitive function going forward."

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6

Don't Forget to Set Goals For Yourself

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"Set goals, set goals for exercise, set goals for eating, because if you set some goals for yourself, you'll, you'll likely go after them. But the goals shouldn't be too lofty because oftentimes people will come up to me and say, oh, you know what? I really need to lose 50 pounds. And they've been 50 pounds overweight for a number of years, then I'll say, okay, okay. But we sort of need to work on maybe 10 pound increments. And when I say that to someone, they sort of get frustrated, but I really try to work with them to say, let's work on small bits at a time," says Volpe.

7

Don't Think "COVID is Over"—It's Actually a Persistent Risk

Senior woman putting on face mask protection.
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If you are over 60, you are at risk of a severe COVID infection, especially as new variants arise. Stay on top of your vaccinations and boosters, follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
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