Sure, there are a few extra aches and pains, but there are also ways in which your health can improve as you get older
1. Fewer colds
Every time you are exposed to a virus or infection, your body retains an ‘immune memory’ so it can more easily fight it off next time. This is particularly effective when it comes to the common cold, so whereas young adults can expect to catch two to three colds a year, with people over 50 it drops to one or two. Unfortunately, the flu virus mutates, so it’s worth getting a jab every year.
2. Less stress
‘Levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine become lower as we age,’ says Dr Emma Derbyshire, public health nutritionist and advisor to the Health and Food Supplements Information Service. ‘We may also begin to feel more laid-back and less stressed about things that normally would have bothered us.’ Your years of experience handling whatever life has thrown at you could also mean that you are better able to cope, and you won’t fret about the small stuff quite so much.
3. A sharper brain
We might process and retrieve information more slowly when we get older, but this doesn’t mean that our thinking is less sharp. If you make the most of your memory and use it regularly, that portion of your brain can actually improve when you get older. In fact, women in their 40s, 50s and 60s tend to score higher on vocabulary and verbal memory tests than younger women.
4. Milder allergies
‘Changes in body physiology mean that we are more likely to experience milder allergies after the age of 50, as our bodies don’t react as strongly to antigens,’ says Dr Derbyshire. So if you suffer with allergies, such as hay fever, you may notice symptoms lessen. Food allergies may reduce, too, but severe allergies – to nuts, for example – are less likely to go away.
5. Fewer migraines
If you are a woman who suffers from migraine attacks, they are likely to become less severe or frequent, and in many cases may stop altogether. This could be due to the menopause, as oestrogen is a common migraine trigger (women are three times as likely to have migraines than men), but it may also be because stress levels drop, too.
63% of people over the age of 70 feel more content than at any other point in their lives, says research by the Royal Voluntary Service.
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