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Manage your health in your 60s

12-minute read

Key facts

  • Have regular eye tests, dental check-ups and vaccinations.
  • Ask your doctor about regular cardiovascular health checks.
  • Go for your cancer screening tests when you get the reminders.
  • Once you are over 65 years have your hearing checked and a falls risk assessment.
  • Aim for a healthy lifestyle by eating well, being active and limiting your alcohol intake and not smoking.

What health screenings tests should I have at 60?

Talk to your doctor about what tests you need, based on your current health and family history. Most healthy people in their 60s should have the following tests.

Every year

Every 2 years

Every 3 years

  • have a diabetes risk assessment
  • have an eye test (every year if over 65 years)

Every 5 years

At regular intervals

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

What can I do to stay healthy?

To help you stay healthy:

  • quit smoking
  • eat well
  • limit the alcohol you drink
  • be physically active
  • get immunised

This will help lower your risk of:

Quit smoking

You can get support to quit smoking from your doctor, who may also give you nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines to help. Read about how to quit smoking, or try a service such Quitline 13 7848.

Eat well

It is important to have a balanced diet and to stay within a healthy weight range. If you're overweight a 5% weight loss can help lower your risk of disease.

Try to eat to eat 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables a day. A healthy diet also includes:

  • grains
  • lean meats
  • poultry — such as chicken and turkey
  • fish
  • milk, yoghurt and cheese

Limit sugar, saturated fat and salt.

Limit your alcohol intake

Drink no more than 10 standard alcoholic drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. If you're driving, it's best not to drink.

If you have a condition that can be made worse by alcohol, your doctor may advise you not to drink any alcohol.

Be physically active

If you're generally fit and are reasonably mobile, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.

Moderate-intensity physical activity is an activity that's energetic and raises your heart rate, such as fast walking. Try tracking your step count.

It's better to do some physical activity in your 60s than none at all. You can start exercising and gradually increase the amount you do and how often you do it.

Choose strength, balance and flexibility exercises as well. These will help you maintain stronger muscles and bones. These exercises also help to reduce your risk of falls.

Are you at risk?

Find out if you're at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes or kidney disease using our Risk Checker.

How can I help prevent health problems?

Some health problems may become more common as you grow older, especially if you have other risk factors:

There are some things you can do in your 60s to help prevent these conditions from developing or worsening.

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

You should have an assessment of CVD risk every 2 years. Your doctor may ask you questions and test your blood pressure and cholesterol as well as checking for other health conditions.

You can help prevent CVD by following the healthy lifestyle recommendations above, as well as reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol.

High blood pressure

How often you need a blood pressure test depends on your cardiovascular risk.

Your blood pressure should be checked:

  • every 2 years if your cardiovascular risk is low
  • every 6 months to 12 months if your cardiovascular risk is moderate risk
  • every 6 weeks to 12 weeks if your if your cardiovascular risk is high

If your blood pressure is high, you will need to follow the lifestyle recommendations to try to reduce it. You may need to take antihypertensive (high blood pressure) medicine.

During your blood pressure check your doctor may check for heart arrhythmia (an irregular beat).

Cholesterol and lipids

You should have your cholesterol and lipids checked every 5 years with a blood test. If you're at high risk of cardiovascular disease you will need a test every 1 to 2 years.

You can help maintain a healthy cholesterol level with exercise and a healthy diet. You may need to take cholesterol lowering medicine.

Type 2 diabetes

In your 60s you should be tested every 3 years to see if you have type 2 diabetes, or every 12 months if you are at increased risk. Your doctor will organise a blood test to check your glucose level.

The healthy lifestyle recommendations can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Stroke

Your doctor may ask you about symptoms and risk factors related to stroke. If you have atrial fibrillation (AF) or another reason to be at high risk of a stroke, your doctor should assess you every 12 months. Your doctor may recommend medicine for AF or other risk factors to reduce the chance of you having a stroke.

Immunisation

If you're aged in your 60s you are at increased risk of serious complications from some vaccine-preventable diseases, even if you are healthy.

Talk to your doctor about whether you need any of the following vaccinations or booster shots:

Kidney disease

If you're at high risk for kidney disease this should be checked every 1 to 2 years. Your doctor will arrange a blood test and a urine (wee) test.

Breast cancer

A screening mammogram is recommended every 2 years for females in their 60s at lower risk from breast cancer.

Females at higher risk of breast cancer may have an individual program developed by their doctor.

You should be familiar with the look and feel of your breasts and should see your doctor straight away if you see or feel any unusual changes.

Skin cancer

Your doctor may check your skin when you visit for an appointment for another reason. If you're at high risk for skin cancer you should have a complete skin check every 6 to 12 months.

If you notice any new or changing skin spots you should see your doctor.

Ensure that you are SunSmart and protect your skin from future sun damage.

Cervical cancer

If you're a female in your 60s you should continue to be screened for cervical cancer. The cervical screening test has replaced the Pap test. It detects human papillomavirus (HPV) and is more effective than the Pap test. HPV is a common infection that can lead to cervical cancer.

If you've had a Pap test, your first HPV test should be 2 years after your last Pap test. After that, you only need to have the test every 5 years if your result is normal.

Prostate cancer

If you are a male in your 60s you may wish to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening.

Colorectal (bowel or colon) cancer

Your doctor will assess your risk of colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, they may recommend a colonoscopy.

Otherwise, if you're aged 50 to 74 years, it's recommended that you screen for bowel cancer using a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) every 2 years.

Once you turn 50, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will send you a free testing kit every 2 years. With the FOBT you can take a sample of your faeces (poo), yourself.

Depending on your results, your doctor may recommend that you have a colonoscopy.

Osteoporosis and fracture

Osteoporosis is when bones lose minerals and become more brittle. If you have osteoporosis, you are at increased risk of breaking a bone if you fall.

Your doctor may ask you screening questions every 12 months to assess your risk. You can also use the Know your Bones self-assessment tool.

If you have a fracture following a small bump or fall you may need a bone mineral density scan.

To help prevent osteoporosis, you should include enough calcium in your diet:

  • females should have 1,300mg calcium a day
  • males should have 1,000mg of calcium a day

This can come from food or supplements.

You should also follow the lifestyle recommendations above and get enough vitamin D. Your doctor may also give you medicine to help strengthen your bones.

Tooth decay and gum disease

You can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease by:

  • brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • using dental floss daily
  • limiting foods and drinks that are high in acid and sugar, especially between meals
  • visiting a dentist at least once a year

Falls

When you are over 65 years, your doctor may assess your risk for falls every year. If you've already had a fall, this may happen every 6 months.

You can help prevent falls by following the lifestyle advice above. Your doctor may also give you some exercises to do to help reduce your risk of falling. It's useful to review your medicines too.

Vision and hearing checks

You should have your hearing checked each year by your doctor, or by having a hearing test.

After the age of 65 years your eye test is covered by Medicare every year.

Aged care services

You may be eligible for aged care services if you have:

  • noticed a change in what you can do
  • noticed a change in what you can remember
  • been diagnosed with a medical condition
  • reduced mobility
  • had a change in family care arrangements
  • recently had a fall
  • recently been in hospital

The types of care available range from help in your home to being supported to move into an aged care home.

To access these services, you need to be:

  • aged 65 years or older
  • or 50 years or older for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people

To find out if you're eligible for aged care services, you need to have an assessment.

The cost of aged care services depends on:

  • the type of care you're eligible to receive
  • the aged care provider you choose
  • your financial situation

Dementia

If you're over 65 years your doctor may assess you for dementia. The assessment might discuss your memory and ability to plan.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Resources and support

For more information on staying healthy in your 60s you can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2023


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