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The #1 Mistakes You Can Make After 60, Say Physicians

Don’t let your golden years be tarnished by unhealthy habits.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

In order to thrive over 60, it's important to be proactive about health. "As a society, we need to learn to do what the 60+ generation is doing much earlier in life," says psychiatrist Dr. Paul McLaren. "Work-life balance—and gratitude—have never been more important for our physical and mental health." Here are five mistakes people make after 60 that are undermining their health and happiness. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Brain Health Is Crucial

Group seniors with dementia builds a tower in the nursing home from colorful building blocks
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Keeping your brain young and healthy over 60 is crucial in helping fight diseases such as Alzheimer's. "Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them," advises Harvard Health. "Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active. Pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, volunteering or mentoring are additional ways to keep your mind sharp…The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain that will be involved in retaining the memory."

2

Proper Nutrition Is Key

Senior woman making choice between healthy and junk food
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People over 60 should ensure they are getting enough nutrients for age-related health issues such as dementia and vision deterioration. "When people think of the Mediterranean diet, they think of a heart-healthy diet," says Dr. Timothy Harlan, editor-in-chief of Health meets Food: the Culinary Medicine Curriculum. "But really, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration and cancer as well."

3

Don't Drift Away From Friends

older couple doing yoga in front of a laptop
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Maintaining social connections is incredibly important as you age. "Lacking social connection carries a risk that is comparable, and in many cases, exceeds that of other well-accepted risk factors, including smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, obesity, physical inactivity, and air pollution," says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. "As we encounter potentially stressful events in our lives, if we know that we've got people we can count on or that we can turn to, we may be less likely to even perceive it as stressful, because we know we can handle it. But also, let's say we're already in the throes of some kind of stressful event, our relationships can also help us cope with it and buffer that reaction to the stress."

4

Don't Stop Moving

mature couple jogging outdoors
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It's crucial to keep an active lifestyle in your 60s (and on!) to stay mentally, physically, and emotionally sound. "If you had to pick one thing, one single thing that came closest to the fountain of youth, then it would have to be exercise," says James Fries, M.D., a pioneer researcher on healthy aging at Stanford University.

5

Smoking Cigarettes

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Worried about COVID-19? People over 65 already have a higher risk of getting the virus, and outcomes are even worse for older people who smoke. "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."

6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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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.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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