Being honest with your doctor is incredibly important; by not voicing your health concerns or being candid about your lifestyle habits, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. (Plus, doctors say they know when you’re lying anyway.) But if you’re over 60 and tell your doctor these things, they’re unlikely to respond with unbridled enthusiasm. So why not avoid these habits and make your next visit a breeze? Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
“I Don’t Need That Vaccine”
Got your COVID vaccine and booster? Excellent. Now ask your doctor about getting other routine vaccinations recommended for people over 60, who are at increased risk of serious disease, hospitalization, and death from any respiratory disease, including flu. The CDC says every adult should get an annual flu vaccine, and older people are a priority group. The CDC also recommends two doses of shingles vaccine for people over 50, plus two pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines for people 65 and older.
“I’m Drinking For My Health”
If you tell your doctor that you’re regularly drinking alcohol because studies show moderate drinkers live longer than abstainers, they’re unlikely to be thrilled. First, experts have never recommended that people take up drinking for health benefits. Second, new research has shed potentially clarifying light on those much-publicized studies claiming that people who drink moderately outlive teetotalers. A German study published this month in the journal PLOS Medicine found that a majority of teetotalers were previous alcohol drinkers who were more likely to have engaged in risky health behaviors, like smoking, that—you guessed it—can shorten life. To stay healthy, drink moderately: No more two drinks a day for men, and no more than one drink for women.
“I’m Smoking Pot Because … Well, Why Not?”
A 2018 review of studies found that marijuana use is booming in people older than 50, at least partly driven by perceptions that it’s harm-free. And although it’s true that marijuana use has not been linked to lung cancer, research has found that pot’s potentially negative effects seem to be more acute in older people. Several studies have found that regularly using marijuana is linked to higher rates of depression, cognitive disorders, drug interactions, and accidents in people over 50.
“I’m Not Sleeping Well, But I Don’t Need As Much Sleep Anymore”
It’s an old wives’ tale that people need less sleep in their golden years: We never outgrow the need for a good night’s rest. It’s too important to overall health: Getting too little sleep has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, dementia, and even increased skin aging. Older people might get fewer Z’s because issues like chronic pain, sleep apnea, or medication side effects are keeping them awake. If you’re not getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night, be candid with your doctor; solutions are available.
“I Keep to Myself These Days”
Researchers at Yale Medicine recently discovered that in the later years, social isolation may raise your risk of becoming seriously ill or dying. They looked at older patients who had been admitted to an ICU and found that the most socially isolated had a 50% higher “burden of functional disability” in the following year and a 119% greater risk of death. Make socializing as fundamental a part of your routine as physical exercise. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.