Earlier this year I had one of those significant birthdays – one that ends in a zero. My hair is becoming greyer and my skin is getting more wrinkled, but I still tell my patients that age is just a number, and that 60 is the new 40! Although I want to convince them (and myself) that this is the case, we should be aware of changes as we get older. 


Cardiovascular system:  Over time, blood vessels may become stiffer and narrower. This can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of problems like coronary heart disease or stroke.

Muscles, bones and joints: As we age, our bones may become weaker. They often lose density and can even shrink in size. Over time, this makes them more likely to fracture or break. Muscles and ligaments tend to become weaker and less flexible, which means there’s an increased risk of injury or pain.

Weight: Another unavoidable change is that our metabolism slows down. Our metabolism determines how many calories we burn, so when it slows, fewer calories are used. Our body stores unused calories as fat, so it’s important to adjust calorie intake as we get older. 

Prostate: As we get older, the risk of experiencing complications with our prostate gland increase. An enlarged prostate can lead to issues with urination, while prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK.

Digestion and the bowel: The ageing process also impacts our digestive system. Changes to appetite, exercise routine and medications can all have an impact on our digestive system and bowel health, ranging from constipation and bloating to bowel cancer.

Mental health: It’s equally important to pay close attention to mental health as we get older. Depression, mood swings, stress and mental fatigue are all common in older men. It’s important not to ignore these feelings and to seek help if you’re struggling.

Memory loss and dementia: The brain undergoes physical changes as we get older, which can affect cognitive function. The results can range from simple short-term memory loss to dementia, which develops over time and is caused by damage to the brain’s nerve cells.

It’s a pretty daunting prospect, but if we look after ourselves, most of the health challenges can be delayed, mitigated or prevented by making certain lifestyle choices. As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to manage our wellbeing, develop healthy habits and look after ourselves, including seeing the GP if you are concerned.


Exercise: Regular exercise is always important. But as we get older, we may need to adjust our routine to avoid injury or focus on the kinds of movement that will benefit us the most. Do something you enjoy and you are more likely keep it going.

Sleep: When we sleep, our bodies can recharge. Our muscles and cells repair themselves and our minds relax. Aim for around seven to nine hours of sleep per night, ideally going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.

Healthy habits: Too much alcohol, smoking cigarettes and not eating enough fruit and veg are all ‘bad’ habits and they do more and more damage over time. Whatever your age, one of the best ways to look after your older self is to cut out the bad habits now. And then replace them with healthy habits, like eating well and only drinking in moderation. 

Hydration: Drinking plenty of water is important for the immune system, energy levels, digestion, maintaining a healthy weight, organ function and healthy skin. Stay hydrated –aim for six to eight glasses of fluids per day. Water is ideal, but low-fat milk, sugar-free drinks, tea and coffee also contribute.

Keep your mind active: It’s not just our bodies that can weaken as we age. We need to maintain a healthy mind too. Brain training can help improve memory and keep the mind alert. This can include doing puzzles, reading and socialising. Physical activity is also very important for mind health. Ageing can also affect your mood, so make sure you find ways to reduce stress and don’t ignore your emotions.

Although we can’t stop the sands of time, we can definitely do lots to stay fit and healthy as we get older. 

Images: Getty

Dr Ken

Dr Ken Ferguson is a GP based in Glasgow with many years’ experience of working in varied roles across the NHS. He has a professional interest in facial aesthetics as well as general practice. He is a keen runner, enjoys cooking and is an enthusiastic dressmaker.

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