Patient & Family Resource Blog

Five Tips for Successful Aging

Senior couple walking hand in hand in park


If we’re lucky, we’ll live long enough to experience old age. For many, this is a time they dread. Conventional wisdom tells us that aging means increasing aches and pains and an inability to live life to its fullest. But conventional wisdom is being challenged as more and more people over the age of 65 refuse to give in to old beliefs. Here are some tips on how you can age more successfully.

Get moving!

Exercise has been shown to slow down the aging of both the body and the mind. One study of sedentary adults in their 70s and 80s discovered that even just 20 minutes of brisk walking a day can keep you from losing mobility as you age. A study conducted at the University of Sydney in Australia suggested that by replacing one hour of sitting each day with walking, we can reduce our chance of early death by 12 to 14 percent. Exercise also helps the mind. In one study involving more than 600 people in Scotland, researchers discovered that people in their 70s who participated in physical exercise had less brain shrinkage than those were more sedentary. They also had fewer signs of aging in the brain overall, including better brain circuitry connections.

Eat more nutritiously

Nutrients from the foods you eat food provide the foundation of every cell in your body. Give your body the right fuel and it will run better for years to come. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, a poor diet and physical inactivity are the leading contributors to premature death in the US. Mediterranean-style diets – which places an emphasis on eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and eating moderate amounts of fish while using healthy fats and oils like those found in nuts, olives and avocados – have been particularly successful in helping people age well. The Harvard Health Letter suggests following such a diet can reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke and premature death. Eating well also means avoiding foods such as trans fats, highly processed foods, and sugar, which have shown to be detrimental to good health.

 Spend more time with friends

Human connection is essential for a healthy life. People who are socially active tend to be healthier in both mind and body. In one study of nearly 1500 retirees in Australia, researchers discovered that those with the most robust social lives were 22 percent less likely to die within 10 years compared to those who had fewer social contacts. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who were socially active in their 50s and 60s had slower rates of memory decline compared to those who were more isolated. So, give your friends a call and head out to a movie or dinner. Take a morning stroll with your neighbor. If you find it hard to meet people, volunteer. You’ll not only made some great connections, you’ll find a new purpose in life, which can also enhance your well-being.

Keep a positive attitude

All of us experience some adversity during the course of our lives. But we all have the ability to choose how we react to difficult times. This is particularly true when it comes to aging. According to a study at Yale University, researchers discovered that people who had positive thoughts about aging lived 7-1/2 years longer than those who saw aging in a negative way. A separate Yale showed that people who had negative thoughts and feelings about aging had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. According to the Mayo Clinic, a positive attitude can increase your lifespan, lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, and increase your psychological and physical well-being.

Document your medical wishes

None of want to be in a situation where others are making life-and-death decisions for us. That’s why it pays to plan ahead. In California, an Advance Health Care Directive makes your wishes known to loved ones and healthcare providers by specifying what kind of medical treatment you would want – and what measures you don’t want taken – in the event you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. It also allows you to appoint someone you know and trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Making your wishes known not only will you get the care you want, your loved ones will be able to act with more clarity, sparing them unnecessary heartache.

Categories: Aging