The good news in your 60s: From Meryl Streep to Liam Neeson, stars in their 60s are still stunners and action heroes.
The reality check in your 60s: Keep an eye out for subtle changes that may indicate larger issues.
- You may not even have facial wrinkles. If you’re dark-skinned, or even if you’re light-skinned but always wore sunscreen and a hat, you might not have any wrinkles until age 70.
- You can hold your place in time a bit longer. Head off future signs of aging related to sun exposure by wearing sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat outside. In a recent, headline-grabbing Massachusetts General Hospital study, women who did this faithfully and had low sun exposure looked more youthful. Skin care products, such as those containing retinoids, can also help. Munching foods packed with vitamin C, like citrus, could lower your wrinkle risk as well.
- You’ve got more age spots than before. Nine out of 10 Caucasian women and men in their 60s have brownish skin spots triggered by years of sun exposure. Keep an eye on them. While most solar lentigines (the medical term for them) are harmless, see your doctor if you notice anything unusual. Up to half of Americans who live to age 65 will have either basal or squamous cell carcinoma at least once, and the average age for melanoma is 63.
- Your skin needs more moisture than ever. Mature skin doesn’t stay as hydrated as younger skin. It allows more moisture to escape and may have fewer sweat and oil glands, too. As many as 75 percent of older adults have dry skin. Try taking shorter baths or showers, using warm (not hot) water and mild cleansers. Apply a moisturizer you like every day. A humidifier can also help your dry skin.
- Weirdly you’re in your cavity-prone years again. In fact, your teeth are almost as vulnerable to tooth decay as your grandchildren’s. Thanks to oral-health problems such as dry mouth, older fillings and less-than-stellar brushing and flossing routines, 1 in 5 adults in their 60s have untreated tooth decay. If lack of health insurance is holding you back (which is common after age 65), look into dental discount cards and dental-school clinics for affordable care. Another reason why dentist visits are critical: The median age of diagnosis for oral cancers is 62; men are at twice the risk, compared with women.
- Mouth dry? Check your meds. Saliva helps keep your teeth clean and bathes them in minerals that keep them strong. But about 400 different medications can dry up saliva, causing problems for your choppers. Ask your doctor for an alternative. In addition, 30 percent of us experience dry mouth, but sipping water, and avoiding irritants such as alcohol, caffeine and tobacco, can help you to stay moisturized.
- Time to get serious about thinning hair. Thirty to 40 percent of women in their 60s and more than 50 percent of men have more pronounced hair loss. Minoxidil can help. (It’s smart to comparison shop; last year a study found that women’s formulas were more expensive.)
- Cancel that nail appointment. Your nails grow more slowly as you age. How we know: A professor at the University of Texas named William Bennett Bean tracked the growth of his fingernails and toenails for 35 years, periodically publishing updates in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. What he found: While every nail had its own unique pace, overall growth slowed by 22 percent between his early 30s and mid-60s. But keep a watch on those nails: Clues to your health can show up in unexpected places. If you notice a bluish tinge to your fingernail beds, see your doctor. Such discoloration could be an early indication of heart or lung disease.
- Your eyes may look bigger. As your skin thins and loses elasticity, some of your facial features may become more prominent. Your eyes may look larger because your eye sockets widen and lengthen.
- Gray hair? Who cares? In a recent national study, just 1 in 11 people age 65-plus thought being a silver fox meant someone was “old,” compared with 1 in 4 people in their 20s. Odds are 1 in 3 that you do have gray hair, but up to 65 percent of women and up to 12 percent of men dye it.