Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy to 100 and Beyond - Guest blog post

Guest Blog Post from Rachael Geiger of Home Care Assistance of the Lehigh Valley.

I think it’s safe to say that most people wish to live a long and fulfilled life. What does “long” mean to you in terms of life? The old idea was that we planned to live to the age of 80 or 90, but the number of those living to the age of 100 and beyond is growing. According to the Census Bureau, in 50 years, more than 1 million Americans will live past the age of 102! So seniors younger than 80 need to think, act, and live young! Rather than preparing to die early, we need to prepare to live long and well. Those of us that are only planning on living into our 80’s, may do things differently if we expect to live past 100. Therefore we need to think of how to enjoy life in our later years rather than prepare for death.

There are a number of factors that tie into healthy longevity. It seems the population from Okinawa, Japan have this lifestyle down pat. The Okinawa Centenarian Study found over 900 verifiable centenarians! Aside from remarkably long lifespans diseases like cancer, dementia, diabetes, and heart disease are very rare.  Genetics plays a very small role in their desirable health and life span, one third to be exact. The other two thirds appears to be the result of diet, exercise, low stress levels, family/social ties, and spiritual beliefs. Now a diet consisting of mackerel and seaweed, walking between villages, and practicing tai chi daily is probably not very realistic for most of us, but there are ways of incorporating these principles into our lives.

The first is being more physically active. Taking part in low-impact, weight-bearing exercise like walking, swimming, biking will not only help to keep us keep physically fit but can also create a sense of peace and reduce stress. The next step is mental stimulation such as working on puzzles, reading, and playing cards. These activities help to delay memory loss and keep our minds active. On the flipside, watching television sends the mind into a neutral state void of thinking.

Of course diet also plays a large role in establishing a healthy lifestyle. Consuming a diet that is high in fiber, includes low-fat proteins, fruits, vegetables and omega-3-rich foods, and plenty of water is essential.  A few examples of omega-3-rich foods are cold water fish and nuts like almonds and walnuts. Omega-3’s are essentially miracle workers; they can prevent cancer, enhance brain function and protect the heart, while high fiber helps maintain a sense of fullness and aids in proper digestion.

The elders in Okinawa keep physically and mentally active and find a sense of calmness and purpose by maintaining social ties and hobbies. The more we can keep to our preferred activities and social networks as we age, the better. Attending family gatherings, stopping by the local senior center and enjoying time in nature, are all great ways to relieve stress, be social and maintain independence and purpose.

Most of us would prefer to keep active and on the go, but sometimes we are just too tired or our bodies are aching. But imagine living 20 years longer than you thought you would! Would you spend that time inside, in your chair? Or would you make the most of it and do everything within your means to make those years count?

 “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years” – Abe Lincoln

By: Rachael Geiger

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Abhinna Srivastava said...

Nice Article
Abhinna srivastava

Figaro said...

I agree that health has become one of the social indicators these days. The amount of skinny and well-built people is much higher among the representatives of the middle and upper middle class. The matter is that the cost of a healthy lifestyle is rather high. One needs to apply much effort to stick to the healthy eating routine .The crucial point is the personal culture level inherited from the social environment .
That's my opinion and you are free to agree and disagree though :)