Living long is not worth it if your body does not keep up with you in your golden years. There are simple steps that you can take today to have a longer, healthier and more fulfilling life. Read on to know more.
Over the past one and a half-century, Americans’ life expectancy has doubled. In 1860, an average American was expected to live just under 40 years. Today, American life expectancy is a whisker under eighty years.
Everything else being equal, whether you will live into your 70s, 80s or 90s (or even hit a century) depends largely on controllable factors like your lifestyle and diet.
In fact, as per some studies, only 25% of longevity is determined by genetics. The rest 75% is under your control.
Life in your 70s, 80s and 90s is a lot more fun if your body is can keep up with your mind.
So let us dispel some aging myths and look at the simple steps that we can take today to enjoy the long life that today’s medical science has bestowed upon us.
What You Know About Aging Is Wrong!!
Many people think that your genes determine your life expectancy. While true to a certain extent, good genes can only give you a slight headstart in an almost hundred-year marathon.
The real differentiator, when it comes to living long and healthy are factors like your diet, exercise and your ability to manage lifestyle diseases.
With the improvements in environmental factors that include your living style, housing, food, and clean water, there has been a decrease in the incidence of diseases and hence an increase in the lifespan of people.
And it is never too late to start. Almost half a million people with a median age of 58 were studied in the UK over a period of 10 years.
The study found that those who could manage lifestyle factors like physical activity, smoking, diet, and alcohol consumption better were likely to live seven years more than those who could not.
Living A Longer Happier Life
Do you know happier people live longer? Being healthy allows you to perform better, have a better immune system and health, and have fewer sleep problems.
When you are happy, you may feel like you can accomplish anything without a second thought.
Here are some simple steps you can take today to plan for longer and healthier life.
Doing regular exercise is good for your body and keeps you fit and strong. CDC recommends doing at least 150 minutes of physical exercise every week.
Being physically active will even help increase your lifespan by reducing the mortality risk factors like heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc as much as 35%.
As you get older, it becomes increasingly important to maintain your exercise regime. As you’d likely reduce doing household chores that would have contributed to your body getting some workout.
Brisk walking, dance, yoga for the elderly or simple chair exercises are ideal for the elderly. Some seniors take up activities like Tai Chi to add a social aspect to keeping fit.
Here are some easy tips for you to build exercise into your schedule:
- If you can, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- While parking, choose a spot that is a little further away from your destination and you can get a good walk.
- Weather permitting, use your bike instead of the car for short distances.
- Pick up household chores that you can – dusting, mopping, running the laundry, all count towards getting your body to move.
- If you are a dog lover, think about getting one. Apart from being great company, walking a dog will mean that you are getting out of your house. Or you can sign up to be a dog walker on platforms like Craigslist or care.com. You can work around your schedule, get some extra cash, get some canine company, without the responsibility of caring for a pet.
- Socialize over sports. You can find age appropriate leagues of your favorite sport in your community. Not only are they good exercise, they are a great place to socialize.
- Don’t think of staying active as just exercising or doing chores. Hobbies like dancinng, gardening, hiking, swimming etc can give you as much of a physical workout as any for of exercise.
Smoking affects nearly every part of the body. Around 7 million people die due to smoking worldwide. On average, people who smoke die earlier than non-smokers.
But as it is said, it is never too late to quit a bad habit. Quitting smoking can add more years to your life and prevent diseases like heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
If you have been smoking for some time, it might not be possible for you to quit altogether, one fine day. Here are some simple steps to reduce your dependence on nicotine so that you are able to one day kick the butt:
- Prepare yourself to quit. Set a date in the near future when you will stop smoking. Get yourself mentally and physically ready and align all your efforts towards quitting by that date.
- Know your why. Whenever those intense cravings assail you, knowing why you decided to quit smoking in the first place can be your touchstone of success.
- Involve your family. Share your plan of quitting with those who are your nearest and dearest. You’d be syurprised by the amount of support you get.
- Know your triggers. Introspect and see what makes you reach out for the next cigarette. They can be being with certain people or at specific places. They can also be emotional triggers like stress, anxiety, being bored or lonely etc. Once you have understood your triggers, you can work towards reducing or eliminating them from your daily schedule.
- Try nicotine replacement. Look at safer options like gums, nicotine patches etc can help you ease out of smoking over a period of time.
- Use technology. The government supports your efforts at trying to quit smoking. There are many federal government led technology support platforms that can hep you in your journey. You can use:
- Social media – You can connect with smokefree.gov on social media to get the support that you need to quit. They have specific platforms for women and veterans as well, if you are looking for more personalized support.
- Smokefree apps – You can download smokefree apps to your smartphone. You can get support and motivation through these free apps to help you quit.
- Sign up for text messages – Smokefree.gov can send you direct text messages to lend you support on your journey to quit smoking.
- Speak to an expert – Want to speak to a live expert? You can do it for free over live chat or a phone call, all for free!
Sometimes you cannot avoid stress, which is a part of life. But being stressed out, anxious, and worried affects your body. Sometimes it may cause depression, anxiety disorder, obesity, or any heart diseases and reduce lifespan.
But you can manage stress through regular yoga and meditation therapy and protect your mental health. Here are some more steps that can help reduce your stress levels:
- Listen to soothing music. Music therapy is a proven way to destress that we are all aware of. If you have a particular taste in music, try listening to it whenever you get time.
- Keep a journal. Writing a journal helps clear your mind and lets you focus, reducing the main cause of stress – fear of the unknown. It helps solidify ideas, define action plans and give you clarity of thoughts, which all work towards reducing stress.
- Take a warm bath. Who doesn’t enjoy soaking in the water after a long day! It’s the ultimate mood relaxant and de-stressor. Try adding essential oils and fragrances to the mix to enhance the mood even further.
- Get a massage. Massage helps relieve pain in the body, thereby freeing you of troubles you didn’t even know you were carrying around!
- Exercise. Even light exercises are excellent mood boosters that help reduce stress and anxiety
- Meditate. Meditation and mindfulness have become a movement in themselves today. These ancient practices that help center the mind and thereby reduce stress and anxiety are being used by millions of people all over the world.
Be Socially Active And Stay Connected
Having friends around and being socially active helps in your physical health too. When people are around their friends and have strong relationships, they feel happy and satisfied with life, reducing the amount of stress they have and improving their health.
Here are some ways you can remain active:
- Join a class. If you enjoy something such as cooking or dancing, now is the time to find a class where you can learn your passion while also getting to share it with other like-minded people.
- Go for a walk. But don’t just walk – observe. Say hello to people. Greet others as they walk past you. You will be surprised at how many friends you can make this way! Walking clubs are also an excellent way to make friends
- Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to help out with a cause while also doing something for society. If you cannot volunteer for things that require physical work, you can also do consulting work for non-profits or help with marketing efforts – basically anything that you were good at during your work life.
- Date. Finding love has nothing to do with age, if you have lost your significant other a while back, it doesn’t mean that you should never find love again! There are several senior dating apps that can help you get back on the market and meet new people. Go with the intention of making friends, even if it doesn’t work out!
- Learn Technology. No, we are not asking you to learn to code here – just get onto social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Create a profile, make friends online, especially those that live near you. Technology can help you re-bond with relatives you have not talked to in a while.
Many people have a healthy diet to lose weight and for better digestion. But did you know what you eat affects your life in the long term as well? Having a healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits, and whole foods protects you from many diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Here’s a blueprint of what you need to do.
- Cut the fat. Now is not the time to eat greasy fat food full of cholesterol. If you haven’t heard already, there are several recipes of baked, low-fried, and roasted foods that don’t add cholesterol to your diet.
- Fruits and Vegetables. These are full of vitamins, mineral, fiber, and antioxidants that add years to your life
- Lose the sugar. Sugar can cause several problems in your body, apart from increasing your weight. We suggest you to reduce sugar intake to a minimum, and to let it go altogether if possible. There are healthier alternatives such as honey, applesauce, dates and sweetners like Stevia.
- Reduce Salt. Excess salt causes hypertension and heart disease. Try to keep salt out of your diet by eating food that is flavorful on its own.
- Mediterennear Diet. Mediterennean diets are foods that includes grains, seeds, traditional herbs and spices, whole foods, olive oil and other things. This diet is considered by many to be the most nutritious food for healthy aging.
Always have your regular check-ups with your doctor, be it an overall body check-up, an eye doctor, dentist, or any other specialist. Get the treatment done for any problem early and avoid getting more significant.
Take the medications as recommended by your doctor regularly.
Drink In Moderation
Drinking alcohol is directly linked to diseases that affect the liver and heart and have an overall risk of having early death. There is an increase in the level of mortality risk among people who drink a lot.
Limiting your alcohol consumption to just one drink a day is advised. Drinking in moderation will reduce the likelihood of many diseases and thus decrease the amount of premature death. Here are steps you can do to reduce alcohol use:
- Plan ahead. Start setting limits and abiding by them every time you are in a situation where you have to drink. Keep in mind that you should keep your limits low enough so that the alcohol does not start having its effect on you.
- Money minded. When you are on a booze high, you might not have noticed that alcohol is quite expensive! When you start cutting down on spending and make a budget, alcohol is the first thing that should be cut out of “discretionary expenses”. Try to abide by your own budgets, and celebrate each time you meet your targets
- Make it known. Social pressure is a great way to reduce your alcohol. By letting people know that you are quitting, you are putting yourself in a spot where every drink you take would become a defeat for you – and would remind you of the commitment you made to your loved ones
- Try to go light. If you drink beer, opt for draught. Watch the alcohol content of your drinks, and say no to anything above 5%.
- Drink water. Make sure to drink lots of water whenever you are drinking. It reduces the space you have in your stomach, and keeps the ill-effects of alcohol at bay.
Have A Good Sleep
Having a good amount of sleep is essential for your body, and it helps regulate cell function and heals your body. As per some research, longevity is linked with sleep patterns like sleeping and waking up at the same time every day. Here are some ways you can ensure your 40 winks everyday:
- Set a schedule. Getting up and going to bed at the same time every day is a great way to train your body to sleep as much as you want. Our body clocks adjust themselves to ensure your schedule automatically in a matter of days.
- Eat light before bed time. Don’t make dinner your heaviest meal of the day. Eat light but don’t leave yourself hungry either – or you might just end up getting up in the night and rummaging through leftovers!
- Don’t nap during daytime. Daytime napping is fun, but it leaves you sleepless when you try to go to bed at night
- No phones in bed. Smartphones can be the biggest distraction in the world – who amongst us has not gone to bed with a smartphone in hand and kept scrolling till 3am? Make a rule to never let these devices into bed with you.
- Workout. Exercise is a great way to ensure your body is optimally utilized so that come bedtime, you are ready to hit the sack big time!
- Know when to seek help. If you can feel symptoms of insomnia or sleep apnea, reach out to a trained professional who can help resolve your problems
Priceless Advice From Older Americans
Almost all elders have a lifetime of good and bad experiences that they would like to pass on to the next generation. They will teach us some priceless advice that is very important for a living if we listen to them. Below is some priceless advice from older Americans.
Older Americans always advise the young generation to choose happiness rather than wait for good things to happen. They inform you to be happy and not depend on others to make you happy.
Take Care Of Yourself
Older Americans often advise young people to keep up in good shape and take care of themselves. Older people are often more worried about the disease than about dying.
What you do and think when you are young will haunt you when you grow old. So always think good and do good.
You Are More Happy As You Grow
Many seniors feel more happy and satisfied in life as they age. Age is just a number, and it declines if you let it be.
People are happy as they age. Many young people must have seen that their grandparents live a much happier life than they do despite any problems or health issues they may have.
Best Things About Growing Old
Like any other phase of life, senior years may also have a few challenges. But, there are a few great things about growing old that you should not take for granted.
A Much Happier Life
Seniors are the happiest people around and significantly happier than they were in middle age. They have much better-coping ability and can deal with any circumstances in a better way than those who are younger.
As you grow old, you will experience the joys of being around your grandchildren. You will throw immense love on them, which will lighten your heart. Grandparents have a significant impact on teaching the values and behaviors of their grandchildren.
Opportunity To Do What You Want
One of the best parts of growing old and retirement is spending time with your loved ones, family, and friends. You also get a chance to pursue your dreams and learn any new language you want to learn.
Better Decision Making
As you grow old, you tend to make better decisions and be emotionally stable. Since you know the value of happiness, time, and energy, you can make better decisions.
Is Ageism Getting Worse?
Ageism has had a significant impact due to the pandemic. Around 78% of the people above 45 years of age have experienced discrimination in the workplace.
Earlier it was reported that people were getting retired earlier as they were concerned about their health. But in reality, workers were laid off by the management.
As we age, how we think, feel, and activity changes. Ageism had a negative impact on older people’s health and well-being.
WHO Campaign Combats Ageism
It is necessary to improve the lives of older people everywhere. A global campaign by WHO aims to help people of all ages change how they think, feel, and act as they age.
This global campaign brings the government, society, professionals, international agencies together to help improve the lives of older people and their families. It will further help communities provide proper care and health services to people who need it.
Resilience is a quality that makes people deal with difficulties and challenges and become more powerful. It helps people adapt well to stress, depression, adversities, or tragedy.
A resilience toolkit helps people reduce stress and become better than before, and it helps create positive change in individuals, organizations, and communities. This toolkit helps individuals recognize their stress and make them understand if it’s helping them or harming them.
Aging Myths Dispelled
Many people have few assumptions about growing old. As we age, it is essential to look at the positive side of aging. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and habit, people can be physically fit and not have any mobility issues. Though there are some misconceptions about aging that people have.
Depression And Loneliness Is A Part Of Aging
As people age, they find themselves alone most of the time. They may feel anxious, sad, and depressed. But this is not because of aging. Growing old has a lot of benefits like you get to spend time with family and friends.
Also, as per some studies, older people are less depressed than younger adults but can be severe. Older adults with depression will not show any symptoms or discuss their feelings. But there are effective treatments for people with depression.
It Is Difficult For Older Adults To Learn Anything New
This is not true. Growing old does not mean you cannot learn new things. Older people can still learn new skills and give much better performance. As people age, their way of thinking changes, and there are some positive changes in them.
They will have more knowledge and a lifetime of experiences already. They will improve their cognitive skills while learning new skills. Learning new skills will help them improve their memory.
Older People Should Avoid Doing Exercise
Growing old does not mean you cannot exercise or will get injured. But the truth is you should always be physically active and exercise for some time, and it is advisable to avoid sitting for a very long time.
Not being active will do more harm than aging, as people will start losing the ability to do things independently.
Doing regular exercise is excellent for your mental health and will keep you independent as you grow older.
Older People Sleep Less
As people grow old, they may find it hard to fall asleep. The most common misconception is that people tend to sleep less as they age, and this is not true. Older people need to sleep for at least 8 hours to be healthy and alert, and having a good amount and quality of sleep will prevent falls and improve their mental health.
Sally Peterson Centenarians
Sally Peterson is a California-based photographer who started taking portraits of centenarians. He first started taking portraits of his grandmother, Cecil Peterson, who was 101 years old in a nursing home. Then started up with a project of documenting centenarians.
He photographed many people in nursing homes worldwide – from Germany to Mexico to St. Louis. While taking portraits, he encountered some fantastic people and got to know their experiences.
He tells centenarians loved getting clicked and describing their life experiences. They have been grateful for the life they lived.
Recipe For A Long Life
Do you want to live a longer, healthier life? For all of us, a long and well-lived life sounds great. But how can we get much out of this life?
We need to know all the essential aspects of life that impact longevity. Living longer and healthily at old age requires specific changes in diet and lifestyle. This includes not smoking, exercising, maintaining weight, eating the right food, and having a good relationship.
Eating the right combination of food will help you stay healthy and live longer. Let us look at the type of foods that will help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Almonds are rich in fiber, protein and are a healthy fat, and they help you live longer and healthier. People who eat more nuts have less chance of any chronic diseases, including cardiovascular or type-2 diabetes.
Walnuts are also great for health and help lower bad cholesterol, and it helps improve memory and improve the cognitive skills of a person.
Including green leafy vegetables in your diets like spinach, mesclun, kale, and arugula will keep you healthy, and it further helps fight inflammation and heart disease. People who include leafy greens in their diet reduce the risk of cancer and any cardiovascular diseases.
Although longevity may seem uncontrollable, following some healthy habits will help you live a better life as you grow old.
States People Lived The Longest
This may sound a bit weird, but there is a substantial disparity among U.S. states relating to how long people live. As per some studies, it has been found that people have lived longest in Hawaii, California, New York, and Minnesota.
The average age of people is 81 years. At the same time, the life expectancy of people living in Mississippi is 71.8 years. The difference in the life expectancy of the people is due to their lifestyle that includes alcohol consumption, tobacco, and having a healthy diet over a period of time.
Places People Live The Longest
Monaco is a small country but has the highest life expectancy of 89 years. People here mostly have a Mediterranean diet.
Macau is the second city having the highest life expectancy of 84 years. Here 70% of the money invested by the government is in healthcare. The typical diet people follow here is plant and seafood-based. People who live longest in other places are San Marino, Italy, Australia, and Andorra.
Take Charge Of Healthy Aging
Growing old does not necessarily mean having a poor quality of life or being under medications. You need to know what is good for your body and health as you age and what is not.
As you grow old, you will find changes in your body from physical, mental to emotional. These changes will be both positive and negative. You need to take charge to maintain your body and health and reduce its negative aspects.
Are You Old?
Getting old is inevitable. But by adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can add a few extra years to your life. Just extending your life will not be worth it unless you improve your lifestyle and health. By changing some lifestyle habits and diets, you can improve the quality of your life.
Thus there is no secret to living a longer life. Eating well, being active, exercising regularly, and having socially solid friends and family around will make your life worth living.