GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice

GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice

A problem shared…GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice: I’m dreading having my 60th birthday

  • Anonymous woman, from the UK, tells the GP that she’s terrified of turning 60
  • Says her mother had developed type 2 diabetes within ten years of her 60th
  • Clare Bailey said she is also turning 60 and approaching the big day with a ‘combination of satisfaction and a little denial’

Q I’m terrified of turning 60. It makes me feel so old and it worries me, as within ten years of her 60th birthday, my lovely mum had already developed complications of type 2 diabetes and spent her remaining years in miserable ill health.

I retire next year and I’m hoping to have more than a decade or two of fun with my grandchildren, and to do a bit of travelling. So how do I stay at my best to enjoy the next phase of my life?

Clare Bailey (pictured) said: ‘I’m also turning 60 and approaching the big day with a combination of satisfaction and a little denial’

A I’m also turning 60 and approaching the big day with a combination of satisfaction and a little denial. On the plus side, we are living longer and generally healthier lives than our mothers. The average life expectancy for a woman in the UK is now 83 — four years more than men.

Firstly, remember that just because your mother had diabetes and ill health doesn’t mean you will. Go for regular check-ups such as mammograms, smears and hearing tests to keep yourself tip-top.

Why being outside is good for eyes

Yet another reason to get children playing outdoors — it reduces their chances of being short-sighted. 

Following lockdown in Hong Kong, researchers describe an increase in children aged six to eight found to be short-sighted — from 16 to 27 per cent. 

Yet another reason to get children playing outdoors — it reduces their chances of being short-sighted (stock photo)

This coincided with a reduction in time spent outdoors, from 75 to 24 minutes a day, and an increase in screen time from two-and-a-half to seven hours. 

People tend to gain weight as they get older, leading to obesity and type 2 diabetes, but it’s not inevitable. Unlike our mothers’ generation, often this can be prevented and even reversed by avoiding sweet and ultra-processed food, and by eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, with intermittent fasting.

Your mental approach also matters. In 2010, my husband Michael and Professor Ellen Langer of Harvard University carried out an extraordinary TV experiment called The Young Ones, where they asked six elderly celebrities to live together in a house which had been refitted to look and feel as though it was in the 1970s.

The idea was that taking them back in time, psychologically, would make them more youthful. That is exactly what happened. Studies show people who are optimistic, and rate themselves as younger than they are, have healthier brains.

They are also less likely to suffer from diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia. Try to build close connections with grandchildren or young people, perhaps through voluntary work. Being in touch with the younger generation keeps us younger.

Don’t forget to maintain a spark of curiosity and try new things. Having been a GP for more than 30 years, I have written a range of Fast 800 recipe books and helped create an online programme for weight loss and to prevent or reverse diabetes. I have even become an Instagram ‘influencer’.

You might try an activity such as ballroom dancing — great for keeping your mind sharp and boosting your mental health, too. Going for a brisk walk, growing veg or cycling to the shops can also keep you in good shape. I’ve joined a weekly exercise group in our park.

Turning 60 isn’t all doom and gloom. For starters, there are the senior discounts, and with all the advances in medicine, it’s better to be a sexagenarian now than ever before.

Making manufacturers reduce sugar content worked with soft drinks. Now it’s time to reduce sugar in packaged foods.

Researchers in the U.S. have found cutting 20 per cent of it from packaged foods and 40 per cent from beverages can prevent 2.48 million cases of cardiovascular disease and 750,000 cases of diabetes. ‘It’s time to implement a programme which can generate major improvements in health in less than a decade,’ say academics from Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

I couldn’t agree more. The Government needs to act on these findings urgently to save lives.

You can write to Clare at [email protected] or Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT 

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