Here’s a total buzzkill of an activity to suggest at your next family get-together: make a list of your top health concerns. You’d expect there to be major differences between genders, but there’s probably even bigger differences by generation. Age is a huge factor in health; understanding the biggest concerns of your age group, coupled with any genetic predispositions, puts you in a good place to monitor health and wellbeing.
To what things should you be paying attention? Check out our breakdown below:
Almost 19 million new sexually transmitted disease infections occur annually, mostly ages 24 and under. Since the most common ones—HPV and chlamydia—don’t have super obvious outward symptoms, it’s important to get tested regularly.
Melanoma, or skin cancer, is the leading cause of death amongst 25-29 year-old women. Even though 75% of sun damage is done by age 18, there’s 25% still under control in your 20s. Make sure to have any new moles (or changes in appearance of old moles) checked out ASAP by a dermatologist.
Depression and stress start to take a toll in this decade, with the median age of depression onset 32. Obligations start to mount (work, marriage, kids, house, etc), and life turns into a kind of stress pressure cooker.
Building off of the depression/stress factor, women have another factor to consider: PMS. While your body is more resilient in your 20s and better at flushing toxins, in your 30s, it’s more challenging and takes more effort for your body to self-repair from stress and/or excess elements.
In your 40s, the risks of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes escalate. The best things to do at this time (it’s never too late to try to reduce the risk) are bettering diet and exercise habits.
Breast cancer. Nearly 18% of breast cancer diagnoses happen to women in their 40s, and it doesn’t really get better (rising to 77% for those over 50). Watch that diet and start exercising!
Now you’re in the prime decade to start worrying about heart disease and stroke risks. High blood pressure and high cholesterol lead to these, so make an effort to quit smoking, consume less alcohol, and maintain a healthy diet.
Healthy Women calls this the decade of the hormone...specifically, estrogen. Menopause typically happens at age 51, which means you might notice hot flashes (or, you know, REALLY notice them) and that your skin is thinner and dryer. Modify your skin care regimen to include more moisturizing.
Chronic pain—arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, and back pain—may manifest earlier, but in your 60s they become more pronounced. Colorectal screenings should also become a normal part of the doctor visit (maybe even earlier if there is a family history of the disease).
More silent changes start occurring in your 60s, chief among them bone loss. We’re all gradually losing bone mass, but in this decade, it’s important to watch for osteoporosis, and try to counter the effects. Consume lots of calcium and consider engaging in regular weight-bearing exercises. Studies have shown that even gardening can help stem the bone loss.
MEN & WOMEN
Past the 60s decade, the changes in concerns for men and women dovetail in changes in brain function. Hormone changes contribute to short-term memory loss as well as word recall, as well as trouble sleeping and serotonin levels, affecting your sense of well-being.
MEN & WOMEN
There are a plethora of things to worry about when you’re 80, but many of them were mentioned above. Except for one: you should expect difficulty getting in and out of chairs.
In short, it seems like the two best things to do in order to try and head off some these concerns are:
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Get regular exercise
...and hope to have a clean family history from disease. And stop smoking. At the very least, we’re all in this together, right?
What are your top three health concerns, and how do you mitigate them?