I'm a Doctor and Say Never Do This After 60
Your body changes as it gets older—this you know by now—and your sixties are a particularly crucial decade. How can you stay happy and healthy well into your golden years? As a doctor board certified in family medicine, with a career centered around the care for people with chronic illnesses including diabetes, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation, I unfortunately have seen the mistakes people make. Read on to discover the health habits you should stop doing after 60, according to my experience as a physician. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Don't Stay Isolated
We know that social isolation and loneliness are two social determinants of health that have negative impacts on people of all ages. In fact, the health effects of low social connection can be as dangerous as obesity and smoking. For example, there is a 57% increased risk of emergency department visits among heart failure patients who are lonely. While many individuals – especially seniors – may still be cautious about being in close contact with family or friends due to COVID-19, I encourage you to try to maintain connections and engage with others however you are most comfortable, whether it's continuing with outside gatherings, wearing masks when in close contact or giving an elbow bump.
Don't Avoid Vaccinations
Although the Omicron variant is milder than previous COVID-19 variants, seniors are still at increased risk of serious infection, especially as many older adults have chronic illnesses. Amid all the talk about COVID vaccines and boosters, it's important we don't lose sight of other key vaccinations such as the flu, pneumonia and shingles.
Don't Skip Primary Care Visits
When you're younger, you might be able to get away with putting off a doctor's appointment for awhile, but seniors have unique clinical needs and are at heightened risk for a variety of illnesses. In fact, more than 80% of seniors live with one or more chronic conditions, meaning they may require multiple specialists and sources of care. As you age it's critical to take the time for your health needs and schedule annual physicals, screenings, and necessary follow-up visits. Older adults may also want to consider going to facilities that better meet their needs, such as CenterWell Senior Primary Care facilities. These facilities offer an extensive care team to address seniors' physical needs as well as social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, housing instability, and transportation. Additionally, CenterWell physicians average 40 minutes per patient visit, rather than the usual 15 to 20 minutes, and in most cases offer on-site pharmacy and lab, which provides a more convenient, one-stop experience.
Don't Stay Sedentary
Staying physically active is an integral part of maintaining an active and healthy quality of life in your older years. This can include walking, jogging, yoga, weightlifting, and other activities. And if you'd prefer virtual activities, look to join a virtual exercise class like SilverSneakers. Be sure to speak with your physician about what exercises are right for you given your personal medical history.
Don't Neglect Your Mental Health
Nearly 1 in 3 older adults express reservations about seeking help for mental health. It's important that we continue to break down the stigma around mental health and encourage seniors to seek care for depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional issues.
Don't Neglect Brain Health
As we get older, many people tend to experience symptoms of cognitive decline. This problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19 which caused delays in care, social isolation, and routine disruptions for seniors, all contributing to decreased rates of cognitive function.
Older adults may be able to increase neural connections by stimulating the brain through mental games like crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Additionally, a recent study found that memory training activities can improve white matter integrity, which is associated with better short-term memory. And to ensure your health don't miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn't Know Were Deadly.
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