Your health in your 60s
Posted on 21 October 2015
Between retirement, grandchildren and a slower pace of life, the 60s are the start of your golden years… but from a health point of view this is also the age at which your bad habits can finally catch up with you. Here’s a look at the health tests that’ll help make sure you really enjoy this time of your life.
1. Your joints
‘Mobility can be quite a problem at this age,’ says Dr John Witbooy, a general pactitioner at Mediclinic Upington. ‘This is when some people start suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other joint problems.’ Be sure to get your joints tested regularly. As Dr Witbooy says: ‘Illnesses will come and go – no matter what your age is. But you always want to be able to move from point A to point B.’
Bad news: muscle is replaced by fat as we get older. Worse news: because your body’s metabolism slows down, you’re not burning energy as fast as you used to. So now, more than ever, is the age at which you could start packing on the kilograms if you don’t take care to eat smaller, healthy meals and do regular exercise.
3. The many side effects of obesity
It’s not just the extra kilos that are the problems. ‘Of course, that comes with the baggage of hypertension, blood pressure and the like,’ warns Dr Witbooy. ‘This is especially true if you haven’t looked after yourself, and if you’ve been smoking and not eating properly. If that’s the case, you could get the package of diabetes and obesity. So the things I would test for are your cholesterol, your diabetic status, and your renal status.’
4. Breast cancer
For women, breast cancer screenings become increasingly important at this age. Some experts recommend a mammogram every two years starting at 40 or 50. Talk to your GP about the frequency that’s best for you.
5. Prostate cancer
For men, the prostate is the thing to watch. There’s an old doctor’s tale that says even if a man lives to the age of 150, he could still end up dying of prostate cancer. Get yours checked regularly.
6. Your hearing
What’s that? Yes, your hearing. Your ears will start going in your late 60s, so be sure to get them tested – and treated if needs be. According to one study, 25% of people aged 65 to 74 have treatable hearing loss. After 75, that goes up to 50%.
7. Your bones
‘What do you do with yourself after you’ve retired? Many people don’t consider that,’ says Dr Witbooy. ‘So you turn 65 and you get your pension… and now what? Many retired people just end up sitting and watching TV all day long. That’s not what life is all about. You want to stay active and mobile.’ Staying on the move will help keep your body going… just don’t overdo it. A fracture – especially of the hip – will increase your risk of permanent disability. Try swimming instead: it puts less strain on your joints and helps to keep you active.
Talk about bad luck. Just when you thought you’d finally get some rest… insomnia hits. ‘One last thing that’s a worrying factor for people in their 60s is sleeplessness,’ says Dr Witbooy. ‘Many people at this age struggle to sleep. There are many treatments for insomnia. Speak to your GP about the solution that’s best for you.