Essential skills to master by age and stage
Staying healthy through your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond requires special attention after age 50. Here’s what you should know at each age to stay healthy: What to Know About Health By 50, 60, 70
What to Know By:
By age 50, it’s good to be aware of health problems that may slow you down and to be settling into a fitness routine you can sustain through your 50s.
- Take preventative tests. Soon after you turn 50, there are a few preventative tests you should take if you haven’t already. These include a colonoscopy, a bone density test and, for women, a Pap smear and mammogram. Men should discuss prostate-cancer screening with their doctor, but routine prostate exams are no longer done on symptom-free men. Click on the links in this sentence for a complete list of recommended screenings for men and women ages 40 to 65 from the National Institutes of Health.
- Know your health risks. These include high blood pressure, diabetes and ovarian cancer for women. Know how to prevent and treat these illnesses. If you haven’t already, it’s time to quit sitting too much, drinking too much and smoking.
- Step up your fitness. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says all adults age 18 to 64 need 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. Here are some ways to increase the intensity of your workouts.
At age 60, you’ll want to pay special attention to your sexual health, your heart and your mental well-being. Fitness is still essential, though you may find you want to adapt your routine to your current fitness level to avoid injuries.
- Mind your sexual health. Maintaining an active and satisfying sex life is part libido, part mindset and part health. If things are not as you would like in the bedroom, see your doctor. It may be that prostate problems for men or symptoms associated with menopause for women are slowing you down.
Maintain your fitness. Try these Do it Yourself baseline tests to see where you stand, and follow the tips for improving your strength, flexibility and endurance based on the results.
- Recognize and treat depression. Depression is common in older adults. Untreated, it can lead to a loss of quality of life and even suicide. Know the signs of depression and see a mental health professional if you need help. Depression is treatable and you don’t have to live with it.
By the time you are 70, the focus is on continued fitness, nutrition and falls prevention. Mental health is also important. And good news — you don’t need so many health screenings.
- Keep exercising. You may need to alter your routine, but maintaining regular aerobic activity and weight training are especially important as you near your 70s. If you have fallen out of the habit, it’s not too late to start. Just follow these guidelines.
- Eat well. While there is a tendency to gain weight from your 30s to 50s, weight loss is more typical after 60. Some of this is due to loss of muscle (see weight training above) and some to poor nutrition. Research shows the better you eat, the longer you live.
- Avoid falls. A fall and broken hip can lead to a precipitous decline in health. Take steps to avoid falls and prevent injury.
- Care for your mental health. Binge drinking and depression are both risks among those 70 and older. But research also shows this can be a time of renewed happiness compared to the 40s and 50s, a progression called the U-Curve. Take a page from Ashton Applewhite, the woman in her 80s who is challenging ageism and showing how to live with gusto at any age.