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As we age, our health risks increase. After all, none of us is going to live forever.
However, we all can improve the odds of a longer, more healthful life simply by avoiding the following deadly health mistakes that people tend to make after age 50.
One note: Consult your doctor before undertaking some of the practices suggested in this article.
1. Letting social connections dwindle
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Loneliness can kill. A 2018 study found that isolation may double a person’s risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.
The National Institute on Aging also notes that social isolation is linked to increased risks of depression, cognitive decline, obesity and a weakened immune system.
Men are at greater risk of suffering from social isolation. As we reported in “12 Hard Truths About Retirement,” a survey found just 48% of retired men living alone were very satisfied with the number of friends they had.
By contrast, 71% of retired women living alone were very satisfied with their number of social connections.
So, keep the ties that bind securely fastened as you move through your golden years.
2. Continuing to eat high-sodium foods
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In most Western countries, individual blood pressure readings tend to rise with age. But in other nations, this does not happen. Why not?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says residents of the latter group of nations consume diets that are lower in salt.
About 90% of the sodium we consume comes from salt. In addition, 90% of Americans ages 2 and older consume too much sodium.
Reduce your sodium intake, and your blood pressure should fall within a couple of weeks, helping to lower your risk of deadly heart disease and stroke, the CDC says.
3. Putting off colorectal cancer screening
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, recommends that all adults 50 to 75 schedule colorectal cancer screening. (For adults who are older than 75, whether to screen is a more individualized decision, as risks and benefits can vary.)
Screening can find precancerous polyps, which are the main source of colorectal cancer. Screening also can find the disease itself in its early stages, when it is most treatable.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, colorectal screening is among a list of preventive services that generally are free for people who have health insurance and are between the ages of 50 and 75. That eliminates the last reason for avoiding something that could save your life.