In what is being called the “Silver Tsunami,” the number of older Americans is expected to rise rapidly in the coming years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018 there were 52 million people aged 65 and older in the United States. That figure is expected to reach over 70 million around the year 2030. At the same time, a growing body of evidence suggests that good genes are only a small part of the longevity puzzle. In fact, researchers now believe that chronic illness is not an inevitable consequence of aging and that it results more often from lifestyle choices.
Do you have a healthy aging plan? Experts recommend the following to get you started:
Embrace a Positive Attitude
Healthy seniors tend be very optimistic and always hope for the best. According to research, having a positive attitude is key to the ability to live longer and can lead to a healthier, higher quality of life. Researchers speculate that positive emotions may directly affect overall health, perhaps through direct mechanisms such as immune function, or indirectly, for example, by strengthening social support networks.
Stimulate Your Mind
Research shows that the more educated we are, the longer we live. And the benefits of education are even more pronounced when learning continues throughout our lives. Many healthy seniors take advantage of opportunities and possibilities that may not have been available to them earlier in their lives, such as second careers, volunteer activities, musical instruction, travel, writing and various classes in areas of interest. In addition, consider mentally challenging activities such as crossword puzzles or learning a new language.
Limit Stress and Stay Connected
Protect your mental and physical health by managing your stress at work and at home. Humor, meditation, exercise and optimism are good ways to naturally reduce stress and relieve tension.
Stay in Touch with Family and Friends
Those who maintain a close network of social support do best. Social contacts may encourage us to take better care of ourselves — by cutting down on smoking and drinking, for example, or seeking medical treatment earlier for symptoms that may indicate serious problems. Friends may also help us get through difficult times by offering coping mechanisms and having a positive effect on mood and self-esteem.
Take Advantage of Your Genes
Essentially, you can compensate for bad genes by healthy living — or ruin perfectly good genes with poor habits. Smoking and excessive alcohol intake, for example, increase the risk of many chronic diseases. As you age, be sure to get regular health screenings.
Support Your Body with Exercise
Instead of watching TV, train yourself to get active. Find fun ways to stay in shape, such as dancing, gardening, swimming, walking or jogging. Include strength training, as directed by a personal trainer or healthcare provider, to maintain muscle mass. Increased muscle tissue burns fat more efficiently, reduces your heart disease risk and lessens your chance of a broken hip from falling. For adults, a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week is recommended.
Make Healthy Diet Choices
What you eat and drink — and what you don’t eat and drink — can make a big difference to your health. To prevent weight gain and maintain good health, pay special attention to eating efficiently. Choose foods that maximize nutritional value and minimize calories. Overly processed foods often contain more calories and fewer nutrients. Instead, choose more whole, natural foods like fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats, nuts, legumes and healthy sources of protein (white meat, fish and eggs).
Choose a Good Healthcare Provider
Even if you are healthy and make good preventive choices, it is essential to have access to a trusted, knowledgeable healthcare provider. A healthcare provider should:
- Know and support all forms of healing and various approaches to health care to present patients with the most effective and safest preventive or treatment options available.
- Emphasize prevention and whole-person wellness.
- Teach healthy living practices.
- Involve patients in decisions regarding their care.
- Encourage patients to be responsible for their health.
Chiropractic Care Can Help
Talk to your doctor of chiropractic (DC) about ways to improve your health and quality of life. Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. DCs are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, and to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice.
For more information on prevention and wellness, or to find a doctor of chiropractic near you, visit www.HandsDownBetter.org.
Reviewed by the ACA Editorial Advisory Board.
The information in this post is for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for treatment or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have specific questions, contact your doctor of chiropractic. To find an ACA chiropractor near you, click here.
- “By 2030 All Baby Boomers Will Be 65 or Older,” U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, accessed June 2021 https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/12/by-2030-all-baby-boomers-will-be-age-65-or-older.html, accessed June 24, 2021.
- Sweere J., Golden Rules for Vibrant Health in Body, Mind, and Spirit. Basic Health Publications, Aug. 1, 2004.
- Buettner, D., The Blue Zones, National Geographic, 2008.