” 60 years-ago an individual person..who made it to 65, could expect to live an additional 14 years. Today, it’s 19 years.. The most important question then : how to grow older healthfully so that we can actually enjoy those extra years? A Consumer Reports survey of Age 50 and older, revealed that we’re eager to maintain our quality of life into retirement and far, far beyond “..
Whether you’re just starting to think about your golden years or are well into retirement, it turns out that most of us have pretty similar goals : ” Remaining Independent, Keeping Mentally Sharp, and Staying as Mobile as Possible,” said Fernando Torres-Gil, Ph.D., director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging.
“But that kind of successful aging requires savvy planning and decision-making…” Our survey found that multiple chronic illnesses, shelves full of medications, and numerous medical specialists are common for individuals older than 50, so lining up good health care and managing it smartly are important !!
We also discovered that ” Mobility decreases dramatically as you age” ; 1 ) 33 % of those older than 80 have difficulty walking, and 2 ) More than 25 % have a tough time simply getting out of chairs.
So a “Fitness – Plan” that maintains “Strength, Flexibility & Balance is vital…” Our survey group told us that their current home was the top choice of where to live as they aged and needed more care. But the ability to do so is highly dependent on the home’s location and physical features.
Also, maintaining an “Active Social Network for yourself & being a Life-long Learner” are the best ways to reduce the ” Risk of Cognitive Decline “, the situation that respondents feared most about Old-Age.
The good news – No matter whether you’ve just hit 50 OR are well on your way toward the century mark, there are Strategies that can help you stay Healthy, keep you Socially & Intellectually engaged in the world around you, and create a living situation that is comfortable and safe…!!
1. Managing your Health :
THREE out of Four of those we surveyed, had at least ONE Health Condition, such as High Blood-Pressure, Arthritis, OR Diabetes—and 31 % had Three OR more..
“You’re likely to end up with multiple doctors, not all of whom are coordinated with each other,” said Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., a medical ethicist specializing in aging (who, at 83, says…“I’ve now got a chance to study myself ”). “The basic question is Who’s in charge here anyway? ”
It’s not easy to get your arms around the complexities of modern health care. But if you assemble a capable team and take advantage of some of the recent improvements in the way doctors are organizing their services, you can minimize confusion. What are the most important items on your medical To-Do List ??
- A great Primary Care Doctor
- Well-managed medications
- Remain Health-Insurance savvy
2. Keeping your Body Strong :
One of the ongoing effects of Aging is “Loss of Muscle – Mass”. If you don’t do anything to fight it“, you could find yourself unable to get out of an arm-chair OR off the toilet, one day…”
Aging also brings “Declines in Aerobic Capacity & Flexibility”… And those factors together increase your risk of falls—at a time in life ” when Bones tend to be more brittle “. 18 % of our survey respondents said they had fallen in the last year, and of those, 71 % were injured, including 8 % who broke a Bone..
Here’s a Quick-Test to find out whether your Fitness has deteriorated to a point that puts you at risk : ” Time how long it takes you to get out of an armchair”, ” Walk 10 feet “, ” Walk back “, and ” Sit-Down again”… A healthy adult older than 60 should be able to do it in 10 seconds OR less !!
Flunked the test ?? The Good News is : that it’s never too late to start working out to counter aging’s effects.
“There’s no medication, NO medical-device that has anywhere near the ” effectiveness of Physical Activity ..”
Here are some Concrete Steps you can take, based on recommendations from Experts at the “American Heart Association” & “American College of Sports Medicine” :
- Get a Physical – Therapy Evaluation done
- Do ” 150 minutes of Cardio” every-week
- Add Strength – Training (You should strength train on TWO or THREE non-consecutive days each week and do 8 to 10 exercises targeting the muscles of your Upper-Body, Lower-Body, and Core area)
- Keep your Balance (one of the simplest exercise is to practice “standing on one-leg”. Also consider “Tai-Chi”, which numerous studies have shown improves balance and reduces the risk of falls)
- Stay Flexible (” YOGA” is great for Flexibility. But Get a Clearance from your Doctor for participation in the activity. If you have any chronic problems, find a qualified-instructor, and make sure he OR she knows about any physical limitations you have)
3. Staying ” Mentally Sharp” :
The older Americans we surveyed said that “Losing their cognitive abilities was their No. 1 fear” about aging. Nothing you do will protect you 100 % from developing Alzheimer’s disease OR other forms of dementia, but there are ways to reduce your risk :
- Remain “Physically Fit”(follow the fitness advice in the previous section, because staying physically-active decreases the risk of cognitive decline)
- Stay “Socially – Engaged”
- Learn something “New”(the key to Brain Fitness is to establish new neural connections by taking on fresh mental challenges)
4. Living Independently (Alone) :
55 % of our respondents wanted to stay in their own homes, with help as needed, as they got older and required more care. But a recent AARP survey revealed that only about half of older adults thought their homes could accommodate them “very well” as they age ; 12 % said “not well” or “not well at all.”
“ The time to think about your housing options is when you first retire and are relatively healthy and young”. “ You need to think realistically about the things that might happen over the next 20 years.”
If you want to “ Age-in-place”, here are some modifications to consider if your home doesn’t already have them:
- Ground-floor sleeping space
- Ensure Bathroom “Safety features”
- Lever-type Door-knobs and Faucet Handles (they’re easier to turn for people with stiff or weak hands and arms)