Physicians Say Never Do This After Age 60
Life begins at 60—but only if you take care of your mental and physical health. "Many people in this age group must confront changes in their careers and consider what their years after retirement will look like," says Tanya Gure, MD. "I see many patients who are planning to retire, but there are often additional worries. For instance, more and more people in their 60s not only continue to oversee the lives of their own adult children, but look after their grandchildren, either financially or by babysitting. Not to mention elder care, which also crops up at this age. It's important to maintain healthy habits in your 60s in order to stay mentally, emotionally and physically strong." Here are five things doctors want you to avoid after 60. 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 Skip COVID-19 Vaccinations and Boosters
According to the CDC, older, unvaccinated adults are the most likely to suffer serious complications from COVID-19—so if you're over 60, make sure to stay up to date on your vaccinations and boosters. "The huge risk factor is age," says William Petri, immunologist at the University of Virginia. "If you're under 45, your chances of dying are almost nonexistent, and then it increases exponentially."
Don't Ignore Sleep Health
Getting enough sleep is essential for fighting serious health conditions such as dementia.
"Many older adults tend to get sleepy earlier in the evening and awaken earlier in the morning than they did when they were younger," says Rajkumar Dasgupta, MD. "This is a circadian rhythm problem called advanced sleep phase disorder (ASPD) or 'the morning lark'. In general, inadequate or poor quality sleep is associated with an inferior quality of life in older adults. It is important to remember that although sleep patterns change as we age, disturbed sleep and waking up tired every day are not part of normal aging."
"Inadequate sleep in midlife raises one's risk of dementia," says Andrew E. Budson, MD. "There are many reasons for poor sleep in middle age: shift work, insomnia, caretaking responsibilities, anxiety, and pressing deadlines, just to name a few. Although not all of these are controllable, some are. For example, if you're currently only sleeping four to five hours because you're up late working every night, you might want to change your habits, otherwise you risk developing dementia by the time you retire!"
Don't Avoid Working Out
Exercise is crucial for overall health and happiness, especially as we age: Regular exercise is linked to better mental health, heart health, weight management, and so much more. "The benefits of exercise far outweigh the fear of getting started," says physical therapist Gary Calabrese. "It increases mobility, balance, reduces chronic conditions, helps you lose weight and increases lean muscle mass. It also improves sleep."
Don't Eat Too Much Junk
Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is key to healthy aging—but a diet full of sugar and processed food could lead to serious health conditions. "As you get older, you may need to think creatively when obstacles to healthy eating crop up," says Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN. "For example, if you have trouble getting out of the house or managing heavy grocery bags, try a grocery delivery service. This allows you the convenience of shopping online and having your food delivered right to your door. If cooking for yourself every day feels like too much trouble or you find your energy flagging by evening, try to prepare a few meals on the weekend. Keep them refrigerated or frozen and ready to reheat during the week. One-pot meals are a great way to quickly cook healthy, balanced meals that are inexpensive, which may also be an important consideration as you get older."
Smoking is terrible for your health and can shorten your life —luckily, there is evidence that your lungs have a good chance of recovering even after years of smoking. "There is a population of cells that, kind of, magically replenish the lining of the airways," says Peter Campbell, MD. "One of the remarkable things was patients who had quit, even after 40 years of smoking, had regeneration of cells that were totally unscathed by the exposure to tobacco."