Welcome to your 60s! Your golden years are ahead of you. Perhaps you’re planning to retire soon and looking forward to more time to do whatever you want — traveling, visiting grandchildren, or picking up a hobby or two. Research shows you’re more likely to be happier in your 60s than you were in your 50s.
However, turning 60 can also be a wake-up call in terms of health. There are several health problems that people commonly experience around this age. Keep reading to learn how to spot and treat them — plus, how to avoid them when possible. Aging is inevitable, but poor health doesn’t have to be.
Cavities aren’t just for kids. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 1 in 5 seniors have untreated tooth decay and about 2 in 3 have gum disease. The source says dry mouth is a common cause of cavities for those over 65 because older Americans are more likely to take multiple over-the-counter and prescription medications.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dry mouth is a side effect of over 500 medications. So, it’s important to stay on top of your oral health in your 60s. At your regular dental checkup, mention any medications you take. To help combat dry mouth, the ADA also recommends drinking more water, chewing sugar-free gum, and avoiding coffee and alcohol.
While some level of memory loss happens as people age, now’s a good time to be on the lookout for signs of dementia. Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common dementia, include forgetting recently learned information, using the wrong word for common objects, and misplacing things without being able to find them.
If you or your loved ones notice a change in your memory, check in with your general practitioner. Your doctor can help determine whether you have dementia and if treatment is appropriate. According to the Cleveland Clinic, dementia medication can help manage symptoms. Preventative measures to help maintain cognitive abilities include staying active, both physically and socially.
The older you get, the more likely you are to develop heart disease or have a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, about 20-percent of men in their 60s have coronary heart disease. But that number rises to about 32-percent by their 80s. Similarly, the number of women with coronary heart disease goes from about 10-percent in their 60s to about 19-percent by their 80s.
As people age, their heart’s blood vessels stiffen, and plaque builds up in their arteries. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol contribute to these changes. So, consider your 60s a chance to talk with your doctor about your heart health and make any necessary lifestyle changes, such as exercising more and maintaining a healthy weight. Treatment for heart disease includes medications and surgery.
Did you get chickenpox as a kid? If so, the chickenpox virus is still in your body and can reactivate as shingles. Although shingles can cause a rash anywhere on the body, it commonly shows up on either side of the torso. If you know someone who had shingles, then you probably know just how painful the rash tends to be.
Fortunately, there’s a shingles vaccine. The CDC recommends that those over 50 talk to their doctor or pharmacist about getting the vaccine. Even if you’ve already had shingles, the source says the vaccine can still be beneficial because you can get shingles more than once. It also says those who got the shingles vaccine in the past may have gotten a vaccine that’s no longer the preferred choice. Talk to your doctor to see if you’re up to date.
According to the CDC, nearly 50-percent of people 65-years and older have prediabetes. The good news is that those with prediabetes can take steps to help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The sooner you know you have prediabetes, the sooner you can make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
So, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, those include increased thirst and blurred vision. If you think you could have prediabetes, talk to your doctor. They can help decide whether you should get a blood sugar test. Lifestyle choices that can help prevent diabetes or manage the disease include exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.
As people get older, their metabolism tends to slow down. As a result, it can be easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. According to the CDC, nearly 43-percent of people 60-years and older are obese. Being overweight can put people at greater risk of developing several serious health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and stroke.
While it’s common for those in their 60s to carry extra weight, it doesn’t have to be inevitable. You’re never too old to take control of your weight. The first thing to do is talk with your general practitioner. They can help you tackle a sluggish metabolism with a plan to get your weight under control. Your doctor can then help you develop a plan to maintain a healthy weight.
Millions of seniors fall each year. In fact, the CDC says more than 25-percent of people 65-years and older fall annually. While falling might not sound like the most serious health concern, the source says, “3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries” every year.
As people get older, they can lose joint flexibility and muscle strength. Consequently, their reaction time can slow, leading to balance issues. You can take several simple steps to help prevent falling at home, though. For example, remove tripping hazards like rugs and clutter.
Arthritis is incredibly common among older people. In fact, the CDC says arthritis affects about 50-percent of people 65-years and older. When you have arthritis, you can experience pain and stiffness all over your body, including your lower back, hands, and hips.
“Common signs include joint pain, swelling, and tenderness; stiffness after getting out of bed; and a crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone,” reports the National Institute on Aging. If you think you could have arthritis, reach out to your doctor. They can assess the situation and decide if treatment could help. Common arthritis treatments include medication, therapy, and surgery.
When you’re over 60-years old, it’s likely that your immune system isn’t as strong as it once was. This can put seniors at a higher risk of serious influenza complications. According to the CDC, between 70 and 85-percent of flu-related fatalities occur in people 65-years and older.
Thankfully, there is an updated flu vaccine every year. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of getting a flu shot. Other preventive measures include washing your hands often, covering coughs, and avoiding anyone who’s sick.
Did you know that the risk of certain types of cancer increases with age? Helpfully, the American Cancer Society makes it easy to track which cancer screenings are recommended by age. For instance, those 50-years and older are encouraged to get screened for colon, lung, breast, cervical, and prostate cancer.
While it may not be possible to prevent every type of cancer, the CDC says you can take steps to lower your chances of having a fatal case. For one thing, regular cancer screenings can help find it early when treatment is more likely to be successful. The source also notes the effectiveness of vaccines, avoiding tobacco, and maintaining a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about scheduling screenings and ask if they have other recommendations.
Women, in particular, should be on the lookout for signs of osteoporosis. “Of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80% are women,” according to the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF). It’s such a prevalent condition that a CDC report says 1 in 4 women 65-years and older has osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis weakens bones and causes them to become brittle. As a result, they can be easier to break or fracture. According to Stanford Health Care, 50-percent of women and 25-percent of men over 50-years old will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture. Talk to your doctor about effective exercises for osteoporosis as well as calcium and Vitamin D supplements.
Some vision changes come with aging. You might find yourself holding books and labels either closer or further from your face to read them clearly. But not every vision change can be corrected with a stronger glasses prescription. Some age-related eye issues like glaucoma and cataracts may require medications or eye surgery.
The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye exams for those 60-years and older. With regular eye exams, an optometrist can keep track of changes to your vision and identify areas of concern.