Over 55? Stop Doing These Things
Aging is inevitable (and certainly better than the alternative!), but what about healthy aging? "Longer life is a priority for individuals and society because it provides opportunities for personal fulfillment and contributions to our communities," says Paul Mulhausen, MD, MHS, FACP, AGSF. "But as we learn more about concrete ways to increase longevity, we need to work on ways to improve the quality of that time as well." Here are five things you should never do after 55. 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 Take Early Retirement Without Savings
Taking early retirement without adequate savings is a bad mistake, financial experts warn. "The reason is simple: We are, as a group, lousy savers, making early retirement unaffordable. Financially speaking, it's generally far safer and far smarter to retire later," says economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, PhD. "Still, almost two-thirds of people — between ages 57 and 66 — choose to retire early out of their own volition, despite having saved next to nothing. And most of them are able-bodied, without disabilities that would prevent them from staying on the job."
Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol after 55 can lead to serious health issues, doctors warn. "One common myth has been that older people can consume more alcohol without any negative effect," says Lawrence Ferber, PhD, director of Behavioral Health Central Intake Services for Catholic Health Services of Long Island. "The truth is that there is no specific age where it's okay for you to be consuming mass amounts of alcohol, and aging actually lowers the body's tolerance for alcohol… The liver is the primary organ that detoxes alcohol. It's also responsible for processing medications, and performs important jobs like recycling iron from the bloodstream and manufacturing proteins and other important things the body needs. As it ages, it has less capacity for all the work it has to do."
Don't Ignore Vitamin D Levels
Did you know skin becomes less efficient at converting sunlight into vitamin D as we age? "I don't usually recommend supplements, but a vitamin D supplement is often a smart idea," says Johns Hopkins geriatrician Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH. "You can ask your doctor for a test to find out if you're deficient."
Don't Get Complacent About Medication
"Every three to six months, review all of your meds with your primary care doctor and ask: 'Do I still need this? Can I lower the dose? Are there alternatives?'" says Dr. Arbaje.
Don't Give Up On Sexual Intimacy
Don't allow your sexual identity to disappear after age 55, experts warn. "At any age, people feel better when they are sought after by other people. Having a partner who wants to be with you in such a close and connected way increases feelings of self-worth, the lynchpin of psychological health, according to theories of psychological health derived from Adlerian principles," says Roni Beth Tower, PhD. "Within long-term marriages, sexual contact helps sustain the marriage even as other stresses associated with aging threaten to challenge it. For example, in one study of couples over 50 who had been married at least 20 years, impediments or barriers to sexual behaviors were of minimal importance as long as physical intimacy continued.