Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on August 02, 2021
A Happier Decade?

A Happier Decade?


Surveys show that aging and happiness often form a U-shaped curve. The line dips slowly from your youth to your middle years, then rises in your 40s and 50s. About 1 in 3 people in their 60s say they’re “very happy” -- slightly more than those under 35. Life probably taught you to savor good times and know that bad times will pass. But your golden decade can bring new challenges, like health or money worries and the deaths of loved ones.

Cancer Risks

Cancer Risks


If you ever find out you have cancer, you’re most likely to get the news in your 60s. Half of breast cancers are diagnosed at age 61 or older. For colon cancer, the median age is 68. Older age is what’s most likely to raise your odds of having all types of cancer. Get your recommended screenings. Ask your doctor how often you should go in for mammogram, colonoscopy, or prostate tests.

Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss


Wait … what? Four out of 10 Americans in their 60s have trouble hearing. It’s one of the most common conditions of aging. Hair cells in your inner ear naturally die off as you get older. Infections, heart conditions, stroke, head injury, or certain medications also can erode your hearing. Yet 80% of people who may benefit from hearing aids don’t wear them. Even most of those who do wait more than 10 years on average before they get help.

Weight Creep

Weight Creep


No, getting older does not have to equal putting on the pounds. Yes, your metabolism -- how quickly your body burns calories -- often slows as you age. But a poor diet and lack of exercise probably are bigger reasons why the number on your scale climbs higher in your 60s. So get active, build more fat-burn muscles, and watch what you eat.   

Skin Changes

Skin Changes


During your 60s, your first two layers of your skin -- the epidermis and dermis -- thin and flatten out. Your skin turns drier and itchier and may look like crepe paper or tissue. Wrinkles, age spots, creases, and bruises become more noticeable. Your sweat glands also get less active. That means you might not sweat as much, but wounds on your skin may take longer to heal.

Heart Troubles

Heart Troubles


Your mid-60s and beyond are a prime time for a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. You can’t undo the natural toll that comes with aging. But you can do a lot to keep your ticker healthier. Don’t smoke, and limit salt, sugar, and saturated fats from meats and dairy. Aim for half an hour of walking, yoga, swimming, or other active moving each day.

Brain Power

Brain Power


Many people in their 60s start to notice that their minds aren’t quite as sharp as before. It may take you longer to recall names and facts, recognize patterns, or solve problems. This mental decline only continues as you age. On the upside, your vocabulary, knowledge, and long-term memory likely will stay stable.




By age 65, you have a 1 in 3 chance of having eye diseases like cataracts, dry eye, or glaucoma that hamper your vision. One of the biggest threats is age-related macular degeneration, which destroys the central part of your vision you need to read or to drive. Get your eyes checked every year, even if you don’t notice a problem. Most eye diseases don’t cause pain, but they can be treated if caught early.

Bones and Joints

Bones and Joints


Aging and not moving enough can turn your body creaky. Watch out for weak muscles and achy joints that snap and pop. Ask your doctor if calcium and vitamin D supplements may strengthen your bones. If you’re a woman, get a bone scan at 65 for osteoporosis, the “brittle” bone disease. Men should talk to their doctor to see if osteoporosis screening is right for them.

Sleep Quality

Sleep Quality


Even in your 60s, you still need 7 to 9 hours of slumber every night. But a good snooze can be harder to come by. As you age, your body makes and releases less of the sleep hormone melatonin. That can keep you from falling -- and staying -- in deep, restful sleep. Daytime naps throw things off, too.

Rising Blood Pressure

Rising Blood Pressure


Over the years, fatty deposits build up in the walls of your arteries, like a clogged drain. On top of that narrowing, your large arteries stiffen with age, a condition called arteriosclerosis. The extra force makes your blood pressure go up. Your readings can be dangerously high, but you may not have any symptoms. But hypertension can lead to stroke, blindness, and other serious damage.  

Bladder Control

Bladder Control


If you wake often to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, your age may be to blame. Your bladder tissue isn’t as flexible as before, and it holds less pee. Also, urinary incontinence -- when you can’t hold your bladder or leak urine when you cough or sneeze -- gets more common in old age.




By your 60th birthday, your body has all but stopped making new T cells, which find and destroy germs and other invaders. So you’re less able to avoid infections or you take longer to recover. Vaccines won’t pack the same protective punch as before. You may need a higher-dose flu vaccine after 65. Also add vaccinations for shingles and pneumococcal disease to your to-do list: Both are more likely to strike when you’re over 60.




Three out of 10 people over age 65 have dry mouth. It most often is a side effect of medications, but diabetes or other conditions also can cause it. Your chances for having oral cancer during your 60s is almost 4 times higher than for someone 20 years younger. See your dentist regularly.

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JAMA Otolaryngology: “Declining Prevalence of Hearing Loss in US Adults Aged 20 to 69 Years.”

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