The best is yet to come

Siski Green

If you need something positive to focus on, consider these seven benefits of reaching your mid-life and beyond.



Fewer colds

As you tick off years on the calendar, you can also tick off any viruses you’ve had. Once you’ve been infected with a particular cold virus, for example, your body has the antibodies to fight it off. And, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there are around 200 different viruses that cause colds. As a child, you probably had around eight colds each year but that figure drops to around two or three as an adult. By the time you reach 60 years old, you’ll get fewer than one a year.

Tip

If you do get a cold, don’t try too hard to reduce the symptoms – your stuffed nose is a result of extra blood in your capillaries, your body’s effort to fight the infection.

The runny nose? That’s designed to trap the virus before it can invade further into your body.

And your raised temperature is your immune system’s attempt to kill the virus too – it can’t survive if it’s too hot. So drink plenty of water to help your body do its job and create a moist environment with a humidifier or bowls of hot water – viruses prefer dry air.

NB: Although at 60 and beyond you’re very nearly invulnerable, viruses mutate so even if you’ve had more than 200 colds, you’re not completely immune.

Needing less sleep

Night owls have nothing on you – in a study by researchers at the University of Surrey and Harvard Medical School, people aged 60-72 needed one and a half fewer hours than those between the ages of 18 and 32.

Tip

If you can’t get to sleep, don’t get stressed about it – read a book or listen to music instead. The sleep study authors warn against thinking that being awake when you want to be asleep is a sign of insomnia which needs to be treated with sleeping pills."People may start using medications needlessly," says Professor Elizabeth B Klerman.

Better sex

For men

Although you are more likely to have trouble getting it up, you’re more likely to enjoy getting it on than your 30-year-old counterparts, according to a study undertaken by Gothenburg University in Sweden. As a result, you’re better able to satisfy your female partners than younger chaps too.

For women

You may not have the nubile body of a 20-year-old but there are distinct benefits to sex after 50:

“You’ve got more experience, which means a greater likelihood of orgasm,” says sex adviser Dr Pam Spurr, author of Sizzling Sex (JR book). “Plus, you don’t need to worry about birth control if you’re in a monogamous relationship and have no STDs, you’re less likely to have young children disrupting night times, and men are more likely to be able to last longer in bed, thereby making mutual satisfaction more likely.”

Tip

Lubrication can be a problem for women, especially after menopause, so invest in some bottles of slippery stuff. Durex does a massage gel that doubles as lubricant, making it twice as useful as other lubes.

Increased attractiveness

There’s no reason to fret over those greying locks, according to a poll conducted by Glamour magazine. They asked their readers, aged 18 to 49 if they thought grey hair was sexy. Forty per cent said yes – for both men and women; 15% preferred it only on men, but only 4% said never.

Tip

Try tone-on-tone hair dyes, which can add hints of silver or slate grey to make your hair colour stand out.

A lighter diet

Your dietary needs change so dramatically once you hit your fifties that in the US they have devised a special food pyramid for this age group. Researchers at Tufts University's Human Nutrition Research Center, US, looked at nutrient needs of older individuals and found that although they need similar amounts of vitamins and minerals, they needed fewer calories than in earlier decades. That means rather than hurriedly grabbing a sandwich because your stomach is rumbling, you can spend your time and energy preparing something delicious and satisfying instead.

Tip

Cut back on fatty foods and refined carbohydrates to reduce your calorie intake. “The key is to get high-nutrient-density foods in your diet,” says registered nutritionist Carina Norris, author of The Food Manual (Haynes, £17.00). “So keep eating fruit and vegetables as these contain really important vitamins for older people.”

Less stress

Pity the folk who tap their feet impatiently when the bus/train/car in front doesn’t move fast enough – they’re just young and uptight. As the years pass, many common stressors such as pressure at work, childcare and the need to provide for a family tend to diminish or disappear altogether and you become more relaxed. In fact, according to a Harris Poll, around 25% of all adults say they experience ‘a lot of stress’; compared with only 9% of those over 61. The poll also found that younger people were more likely to report feeling lonely than their older counterparts, more worried about having too many things to do and be concerned about money for emergencies or basic necessities.

Tip

To reduce stress even further, try to prepare for life’s inevitable minor mishaps and setbacks. Get extra keys cut to your house and car, and leave them with someone you trust; keep £10 in your shoe in case you’re ever caught short or have your purse/wallet stolen; and write anything that worries you down on paper – often, the process of putting a concern into words diminishes its power.

A bigger smile

Researchers from the University of California reviewed studies relating to emotional wellbeing and ageing and found that happiness increased as people got older, unless, that is, they suffered with dementia-related illness. A separate study from Stanford University in the US, found that older study participants were more resilient to criticism and experienced fewer persistent negative moods.

Tip

To keep that grin on your face, just say no to any events or activities that don’t appeal to you. Researchers believe that by being able to recognise events or activities that will make them unhappy, older people can avoid these situations, thereby maintaining their good spirits.





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