Aging might be out of our control, but aging better is something we should all have a handle on. And with more access than ever to technology, nutrition and medical care that is helping everyone to live longer, it’s never been easier to embrace it.
What are the secrets? The ways in which we can live better, longer, should be no secret at all. Perhaps Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital’s, Francine Grodstein, said it best when he explained that the new concept of "successful aging" goes beyond simply avoiding illness and extending lifespan. "There was a lot of focus in the past on preventing specific diseases, like heart disease or cancer. Now there is an increased understanding that healthy aging means thinking broadly about physical, mental, and cognitive health, as well as diseases."
Here are some ways you can put this understanding into practice for yourself:
Meaningful connections keep us stimulated and engaged, but the benefits of good company and companionship can be much simpler. From everyday reminders to make healthy eating choices to having a walking partner, maintaining an active social life is key to aging happily and more successfully.
Challenging your brain is believed to actually preserve individual brain cells and stimulate the connections among them. The good news is that when it comes to exercising the mind, there are so many easy ways to learn, explore and try simple things like puzzles, games and reading – or more complex activities, such as painting or building a garden.
When it comes to getting older, it’s no secret that physical activity is one of the most important components. In fact, studies show that certain cellular processes such as inflammation, oxidation and glycation are some of the more harmful effects of aging, which means it’s happening from the inside out. But exercises help to work against these processes, so whether it’s a long walk or strength training, staying active doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to be done.
Maintaining a positive outlook at any stage can be difficult, but it is no less significant, especially with older age. A January 2016 study published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal reported that older adults with negative attitudes about aging had slower walking speed and worse cognitive abilities just two years in, compared to those adults who thought positively. One key takeaway among many here is that attitude really is everything.
As our bodies age and change, our need for food-based nutrients becomes increasingly important. Eating whole grains and fruits or vegetables with every meal is a great place to start, but paying close attention to proper hydration, sodium and fat content is critical in fighting off infections and diseases that become more common with time.
Regardless of your age, or even condition, one important thing to remember is that building and preserving relationships, mental health, activity and even emotions, remains an ongoing process. But it’s one that’s never too late to start.