Tags: Health Lifestage guide to Health

“Retirement can be lonely. Understanding what keeps you ticking is important, because it leads to better mental health, which leads to better physical health as well.”—Radeyan Sazzad, Manager—Health Management, Australian Unity

Key points

  • Osteoporosis and diabetes become more prevalent in your 60s. While both conditions can lead to significant complications if left untreated, they can be picked up early with screening and are highly treatable.
  • There’s an increased risk of developing chronic conditions in your 60s, including heart conditions and joint issues.

  • It’s important to consider your mental health as you transition to retirement, as this can be a lonely time for many people.

Ah, the 60s. For a lot of us, it’s a time when we can look forward to hanging up our work boots and enjoying the spoils of retirement after many years of hard work. But it’s also a time when our health may undergo significant changes.


It can be all too easy to start worrying about our health in our 60s—thanks Dr Google—but what do the experts say about the conditions that really affect us in this decade?


To keep you powering along through your 60s, we spoke to two experienced health professionals about the ailments and conditions you should be looking out for.


Preventing osteoporosis

“About 20 to 25 percent of women in their 60s have osteoporosis, and that percentage almost doubles in your 70s,” says Dr Tessa King, Specialist Women’s Health GP at Jean Hailes for Women’s Health. While this bone condition is something to be aware of earlier in life, “it’s definitely something to talk about with your doctor in your 60s as to whether you need to get a bone density test, or whether you can do anything else to help prevent it.”


Women who are underweight or who have taken steroids or other medications that can increase the risk of osteoporosis should be particularly mindful. However, there are a number of things you can do to help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in the first place, including weight-bearing exercise, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D, ensuring you get enough calcium, limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking.


Treating type 2 diabetes

Around one in 10 people have diabetes by the time they reach their 60s—and the sneaky thing is that type 2 diabetes, which is the more common form of diabetes in this age bracket, may not necessarily present with any obvious symptoms.


“Most of the time, type 2 diabetes would be picked up by routine blood tests,” says Tessa, who stresses the importance of regular testing to avoid the condition advancing and causing complications—such as nerve damage in the legs or eye damage—before it’s picked up.


Exercise, a diet low in processed sugar and alcohol, and a focus on healthy fats and a good amount of protein are also all things that can help push risk back in the other direction.

“Diabetes is a condition that's very easily treatable, whether it's through lifestyle, weight loss or medication, but it’s definitely something that you would not want to leave untreated,” notes Tessa.


Keeping on top of chronic heart and joint conditions

While hormonal changes have generally settled once you hit your 60th birthday, there’s now an increased risk of developing chronic conditions that need to be managed, including heart conditions and joint issues.

“The way your heart functions can start to change in your 60s,” says Radeyan Sazzad, Manager—Health Management at Australian Unity. This can result in a rise in heart events or heart attacks from undiagnosed conditions—and even from conditions that are being proactively managed. Your heart function doesn’t necessarily get worse from a clinical point of view, but you do start seeing a drop-off in your cardiovascular fitness.”

It's a decade when you might start noticing joint problems too. “We start seeing a prevalence of issues with joints and joint replacements as well. These tend to be conditions that you need to manage long term, as opposed to an injury-related event,” says Radeyan.

And all these ailments can keep you down a bit longer in your 60s. “People don’t physically bounce back as well as if they were in their 50s,” he adds.

Managing mental health

A major milestone for many people in their 60s is retirement. It’s something you’ve been dreaming about, right?

While retirement can be a wonderfully happy time, it’s not always the case. “We get lots of people who have really struggled to make that transition from being someone who's working to someone who’s retired,” says Radeyan.

This might manifest as feeling like you have no direction or sense of purpose—which can have a serious impact on your mental health and Real Wellbeing.

“Retirement can be lonely. As you consider retirement, think about what you actually enjoy doing and what you want to do when you wake up every day. I think everyone should tread their own path to retirement. Understanding what keeps you ticking is important, because it leads to better mental health, which leads to better physical health as well.”

There’s a little more to contend with healthwise in your 60s compared to your 40s and 50s. But life is here to be enjoyed. Use screening tests and healthcare options to mitigate risks and give yourself the best opportunity to take advantage of those good years ahead.

In your 60s? Watch for these common issues

The 60s are a decade where chronic conditions can start to affect your quality of life. If you think you may be at risk, please talk to your healthcare professional.



  • Cancer: In 2022, 41,788 people aged between 60 and 69 were diagnosed with some form of cancer. Of these cases, 8,890 were prostate cancer, 5,496 were breast cancer and 4,255 were melanoma.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Of Australians aged 65 to 74, 16 percent have heart, stroke or vascular diseases.
  • Diabetes: Just over 14 percent of Australians aged 65 to 74 have diabetes.
  • Eye health: Over 92 percent of Australians in their 60s have a long-term eye condition.
  • Mental health: Between 10 and 15 percent of people aged 65 and over experience depression, with a further 10 percent experiencing anxiety.
  • Osteoporosis: Around 20 to 25 percent of women in their 60s have osteoporosis.


Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.