Four O.C. medical experts offer advice and suggest preventive measures for taking care of body, mind, and spirit in every decade. Here they focus on specifics for those in their 60s.
“The main concern with patients in their 60s and beyond is starting to see more of a lack of hydration and declined moisture retention. There are some good products and creams to help with that, but it also helps to make lifestyle changes. Keep baths or showers shorter than what you’d normally do and reduce the temperature of the water so it’s not so hot. When indoors, use a humidifier when the air feels dry. Heating and A/C units can remove humidity from the air, causing skin to feel dry and itchy. It’s also important to continue to use sunscreen daily—I can’t stress that enough—and to watch for signs of skin cancer. The risk for developing skin cancer and precancerous spots increases during our 50s and 60s. I advise my patients, especially those in this age group, to check their skin at least once a month. If you notice any changes, or if something bleeds and you didn’t scratch it, that’s not normal. Don’t wait to have your doctor check it out. Often the first time a skin cancer gets diagnosed, the patient says they thought it was merely a pimple that didn’t go away. But if it’s bleeding or sore without a reason, that’s suspicious.”
Dr. Azin Meshkinpour, dermatologist at Saddleback Dermatology Laser + Cosmetic Center in Lake Forest
“This is a time when we get a lot of people coming to physical therapy because they are often retiring and they have time for travel and leisure activities. You want to be able to do all the things you dream about doing in retirement. Being able to play with your grandkids. Squat and bend down. This is when we see a lot of our patients getting joint replacements.
It’s not uncommon that your joints wear and tear. At Kaiser, we have total knee replacements and total shoulder replacements. It’s so great that we have this option because our members who go through this can go back to being really active. They can go back to playing golf. After a total knee replacement, most people are feeling better within three months. They do the surgery and go home the same day. They are on a stationary bike and getting their rehab done in the following week. And most people are happy with their mobility in three months, and within six months are back to 80 percent of what they want to do. After a year, most people are where they want to be. Shoulder replacement is a little different because the rotation is much more than with a knee, but the majority of people do feel better in three months. The rehab is a bit longer. And again, within a year, they are back to where they want to be.”
Dr. Van Thi Nguyen, physical therapist at Kaiser Permanente Orange County
“People who are retired or not working full time, you have to figure out what you’re looking forward to or what you can do to unwind. People in the same house don’t experience things together. We used to watch TV as a group experience and talk about it the next day. Now people binge a whole season. These things aren’t helping us socialize. They’re separating us.
Do something out of the house. We like the idea of spontaneity but that’s mostly in the movies. You have to plan it or it won’t happen. People’s lives are scheduled and busy. People need positive way points—something along the way in your journey that you look forward to. We can endure a lot of suffering if you have something on the horizon to look forward to—a drink, a walk, or join your neighbor for a walk with their dog. Get together for a cup of coffee or happy hour. Get together with people and connect.”
Dr. Jody Rawles, psychiatry & human behavior professor at UCI School of Medicine
Diet and Gut Health
“Everybody is different. If you are very active and fit and health conscious in your 60s, you don’t really need to do anything differently than you did in your previous years. But in our 60s we do start to see many of these chronic diseases significantly impact people’s lives. Such that their diabetes has caused organ damage. When we’re in our 60s it depends on how well we’ve treated ourselves up to that point. This is the time when people start to retire and can spend more time focusing on their total health, but we also want to be mindful that we’re keeping alcohol at a minimum, clearly avoiding smoking, and getting good hydration. Coupled with a healthy diet, you want those to be the principles you live by. You want a pattern of treating yourself well. When you treat yourself well, a lot of it is treating your gut well, and when you treat your gut well, it’ll pay itself forward in good health.”