Simple Health Steps for Women in Their 60s and Up

If you're in your 60s or older, take a little time to keep your body healthy and your mind sharp. Try these easy tips that can make all the difference.

1. Use It or Lose It

As you get older, keep your thinking ability in good shape. A key part of this is to make sure your brain stays busy. Read, do crossword puzzles, socialize, try new hobbies, and start new adventures. Maybe it's finally time to learn French!

2. Strength Training: It's Never Too Late to Start

At 65, you may think the heaviest thing you should lift is the remote. Not true! You do lose bone mass and flexibility with age, but regular strength training and exercise can help keep you healthy. It will help keep your muscles from shrinking, and help you avoid falls and other accidents.

3. There's Still Time to Quit Smoking

If you've been trying for years to kick the tobacco habit, don't give up now. You can still repair or reduce some of the damage from smoking if you quit now.

For example, studies show that people who stop smoking at 65 cut their heart disease and lung cancer risks.

4. Don't Forget Key Screening Tests

Make sure to get your bone density screening test done when you turn 65, or sooner if you're at high risk for the bone-weakening conditions osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Many experts suggest you get a mammogram every 1 to 2 years to check for breast cancer when you're 50 to 74. Check with your doctor about what you should do if you're older than 74.

You may be due for another colonoscopy. It's a procedure that can find small growths called polyps that have the potential to turn into colon cancer. You should get the test every 10 years, or sooner if your doctor finds polyps.

To check for cervical cancer, ask your doctor if you need regular pelvic exams with Pap and HPV tests, and how often.

5. Immunizations

It's important to get a flu shot every year. Don't forget about other key vaccines, like the pneumonia shot, which you should get at 65.

Also get a shingles vaccine. Even if you've had the painful condition before, it may help prevent another bout, or if you do get shingles, it will be milder.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Lisa Bernstein, MD on June 21, 2016

Sources

SOURCES: 

JoAnn Manson, MD, chief, division of preventive medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. 

National Guideline Clearinghouse: ''Colonoscopy Cancer Screening” and “Breast Cancer Screening.''

UptoDate: "Shingles (Beyond the Basics)."

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.