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06 August 2003

Your body - 60s

Okay, so 60 is a little late in life to take up ice hockey at your local rink. But there’s a lot you can still do. Most importantly, keep active and look after yourself properly.

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Okay, so 60 is a little late in life to take up ice hockey at your local rink. But there’s a lot you can still do. Most importantly, keep active. Walk every day. Do those deep breathing exercises. If you’ve never learnt yoga or t’ai chi, now would be a good time. Keep an eye on your weight. If you see it piling on, make sure you lose it. At your age (There, we said it) those extra pounds will put unnecessary strain on your joints – who’d want a hip replacement when there are women wanting to date a dignified, silver-haired bloke like you?

You stand a chance of developing osteoarthritis at this age, so speak to your doctor about anti-inflammatories and analgesics. Just remember that many medications can be hard on your kidneys, so drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Pamper yourself: book yourself a full body massage once a month to keep your circulation going.

Alternative remedies can help: acupuncture has been used to treat the symptoms of arthritis with great effect. Stay active, warm up, warm down and find solutions that work for you. There’s certainly no way you should let creaky joints get in the way of a healthy sex life. Communicate with your partner, use lots of foreplay, cushions where necessary, and get it on…

At this age, hair loss is common. Male hormones influence your hair growth – in two different ways – in some parts of your body the hair will increase and in others it will decrease. If hair loss occurs in other places except your scalp, and it is accompanied by a loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, lightheadedness and fatigue, you need to see your doctor, as you may be suffering from a hormonal problem.

You will also find that your body becomes less muscular as you age. Many men in their sixties accumulate extra weight around their abdomens. Muscle-building hormones tend to decline with age.

Blood pressure could also increase as you grow older and you need to be tested regularly. (See screening tests below). Another thing that you need to test for is Type 2 diabetes, as your risk for this diease definitely increases as you grow older, especially if there is family history of this.

Colon cancer is also common in this age group, as is prostate cancer. A fecal occult blood test can be done to test for the former and a digital exam to check for an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is extremely common in men over the age of 65, but it takes a long time to develop and many men in their eighties will die with prostate cancer, but not from it. But it is nevertheless wise to have it checked out regularly.

Hearing and vision problems also become more frequent at this age. Fortunately, hearing aids these days are efficient and unobtrusive and will prevent you from becoming cut off socially, because you cannot hear what others are saying. Vision problems which are common at this age include glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. Early detection of these conditions will always be to your advantage, so don't wait until you are experiencing visual disturbances before you see the opthalmologist.

Heart attacks are the number one killer of men over the age of sixty in the western world. Looking after your heart is important – check your cholesterol levels, get exercising and eat a healthy diet. Cut down on those high-fat foods, join a walking club and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. See your doctor regularly for checkups, especially if there is a history of heart disease in the family.

Being a bit forgetful doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s disease (link), but in your age group it does mean an increased risk for the disease.

You can fight by staying mentally alert by playing games that challenge the mind – Scrabble, crosswords and Trivial Pursuit all help to keep your mind ticking over. You can make life easier for yourself by putting keys in one place, keeping a diary and so on. Simply being tidy will help.

Exercise and a healthy diet are extremely important at this age. Generally, you will find that if you have led a healthy lifestyle up until now, this is the time of your life that you will reap the benefits.

 
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