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What to Expect in Your 60s

The good, the bad and the ugly. Plus advice on feeling happy, sexy and pain-free

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50s; woman; allergies; sneeze; goldenrod; smell

You're less susceptible to allergies in your 60s. — Photo by Craig Cutler

Ramp Up Your Immunity

The Good News: Allergies, which result from an overreactive immune system, are probably a thing of the past, because your immune system isn't as sensitive.

The Not-So-Good News: That less-aggressive immune response means you're more susceptible to getting sick. Chronic inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, makes it even harder for the body to mount an effective immune response. So it's important to shed excess pounds, eat a good diet and exercise.

What's Up With That? Your response to vaccines decreases with age, leaving you even more vulnerable to illnesses like flu and pneumonia. After 65 you're eligible to get a higher-dose flu vaccine. In your 60s you'll also need vaccines against shingles and pneumococcal disease, as these conditions mostly strike after age 60.

What's Ahead: Rates of cancer rise with age, with the majority of cancer cases occurring in patients older than 65, so get recommended screenings.

Take Fewer "Nighttime Trips"

The Good News: If you're generally healthy, your urological system likely works about as well as when you were younger. And an array of therapies can help when problems crop up.

The Not-So-Good News: Gotta go during the night? Not to worry; that's normal during this decade. "In their 60s, 80 percent of people need to get up at least once a night," says Ryan P. Terlecki, M.D., assistant professor of urology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. Try decreasing fluids after 6 p.m. and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon. And if you're on diuretics for high blood pressure, speak to your doctor about taking your pill in the morning. Stress incontinence — urine loss when coughing or sneezing — affects one in three women in their 60s. And women in their 60s also are more prone to experience urge incontinence (an uncontrollable urge to "go"). You can reduce symptoms through bladder training, medications and pelvic floor exercises ("Kegels"), which strengthen the muscles around the bladder.

What's Up With That? Find yourself running to the bathroom all the time? You may have overactive bladder, a condition caused by bladder muscles that contract sporadically. Many people write it off as just another symptom of aging, but Kegels, meds and bladder training can help.

What's Ahead: More than half of men in their 70s will have prostate issues. See a urologist if you suspect you might have a problem.

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