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Simple Health Steps for Women in Their 60s and Up

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1. Use it or lose it.

"As we age, it's important to pay attention to cognitive function and try to stay mentally alert and stimulated," says JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. That means keeping your brain busy. Read, do crossword puzzles, socialize, try new hobbies, embark on 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! We inevitably lose bone mass and flexibility with age. But regular strength training (with approval from your doctor, of course) can keep you on your toes, prevent muscles from atrophying, and help you avoid falls and other accidents.

3. There's still time to quit!

If you've been trying for years to kick an unhealthy habit such as smoking or drinking to excess, don't figure that the damage has already been done. It has -- but you can repair or reduce some of it if you quit now. Studies have found that people who stop smoking at age 65 add almost two years to their lives, cutting heart disease and lung cancer risks.

4. Don't forget key screening tests.

Make sure to get your bone density screening test done at age 65 (sooner if you're at high risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis). You'll probably hear a lot about flu shots, but don't forget the pneumonia shot, which you should get at 65, and a shingles vaccine. Or if you have had the shingles, it may help prevent another bout of the painful condition. Mammograms should be a yearly ritual for most women over 60, and you may be due for another colonoscopy -- that's one (at least) every 10 years.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Mikio A. Nihira, MD on August 20, 2012
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