Senior Living: Secrets to longevity

Will you be dancing at your grandchild’s wedding? How about your great-grandchild’s wedding? Some super-agers are not only dancing, but also cooking, walking, and golfing past the age of 90. With life expectancy on the rise, researchers are attempting to figure out how we can increase our healthy life spans. So, exactly what lifestyle choices matter the most for longevity?

Don’t sweat the small stuff

One of the more memorable comments from one of my clients was “Please don’t refer to me as a senior. I would prefer to be called a mature adult with significantly reduced filters”. I was in stitches. A positive attitude with an optimistic outlook helps reduce stress and enhances healthy living. Get rid of negativity even if it means distancing yourself from friends that drag you down. Put things in perspective and don’t let the little things in life drive you crazy.

Diet is a key ingredient to a long life

Diet tends to be one of the most important factors for better health and a longer life. Researcher, Dan Buettner set off around the globe to answer a question that has long been the topic of conversation for philosophers, doctors, and every day folk: Why do people in some parts of the world live longer than others? Buettner teamed up with National Geographic to identify five “Blue Zones” that have the highest percentage of the world’s longest-lived and healthiest people. The Blue Zones include Loma Linda, California; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. A common thread in all areas was a healthy diet. Many of them had plant based diets with very little red meat. Beans were popular in all Blue Zones which acted as a primary source of protein. The Mediterranean diet was also common – plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, nuts, olive oil, yogurt, traditional cheeses and of course, red wine in moderation.

Get moving

Regular exercise equals longevity. In a modern world, we must become aware of how sedentary our lives have become and how this is affecting our health. Our bodies are designed to be active every day. It’s not a secret that physical activity burns calories, tones muscles, and keeps you looking and feeling fit. But, there is a bonus benefit to exercise: it acts as a powerful vaccine against the aging process itself.

Keep your brain sharp

By flexing your mind in productive ways, you can lower your risk of mental decline as you age. The single biggest cause of Alzheimer’s disease is aging. When it comes to memory and using your brain, studies have shown that physical and cognitive exercise is one of the best ways to keep our minds sharp.

Socialize

Maintaining a proper diet, finding a routine for physical exercise and keeping your brain sharp, all take some effort and dedication. The same can be said with trying to have an active social life. It requires a little work. However, the benefits are plentiful. Study after study demonstrate the advantages of being social. They include a greater sense of belonging, better quality of life, enhanced mental health and increased self esteem. Just as important, it combats social isolation, one of the greatest causes of depression and advanced aging.

We’re all here for a relatively short period of time. Enjoy life while you can. You’d be amazed how contagious it is.

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA).  He is the founder and president of Lianas - a company specializing in retirement residence search and senior transition support.

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