Are You Ready For 80?

The National Institute on Aging reveals that elderly
Americans are now living longer and enjoy better health. The numbers speak for
themselves – life expectancy has jumped from 12 years for 65-year old Americans
in the 1900s to 18 years in 2000. This, in part, can be attributed to better
access to health services and advanced treatment methods. But much has to do
with how we take care of our body and mind. So, does this mean that a more
recent estimate indicating there will be over a million Americans aged 100 and
above by 2050, will actually come true? And will you be one among these
privileged few?

The right attitude to health can reap rich rewards
Living to the ripe old age of 80 and more need not be a
distant dream – you can make it happen. Not only can you live longer but live
the years in good health. Healthy aging does not require a miracle solution –
you only need to follow a few basics with regard to diet, exercise and stress
to boost life expectancy and cut risks of age-related disorders. You may even
be familiar with some, but reiterating them will reinforce their importance and
motivate you to incorporate positive changes into your life.

Watch what you eat
Here’s a tip from Okinawa (in Japan), the land with the highest
number of centenarians-“eat till you are 80% full”. In other words, practice
portion control to keep weight gain and associated diseases at bay. Cutting
portion size and eating 5-6 smaller meals a day is advocated by most
dieticians. Follow this eating best practice – it’s easy, just make sure you
don’t load your plate till it tips over and order smaller-sized portions in
restaurants (if the restaurant doesn’t offer this option, share the order with
a friend or family member).

An important part of ‘eating right’ is whipping up a
balanced meal with a high nutritional content. Hold the red meat and try
sumptuous seafood (rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that keep heart disease and
Alzheimer’s at bay) instead. Incorporate garden vegetables, nuts and grains in
your diet; they all form a part of the daily diet of Okinawans and Sardinians,
who share the highest centenarian accolade with Okinawa.
Limit intake of processed food, and replace sodas with fresh fruit juice.

Exercise your way to 80
A sedentary lifestyle is a deal killer as far as both your
mind and body are concerned. You can’t blame the fast paced technological world
for making you inactive. Even if you are required to spend long hours at the
computer, take some time out to go for a jog or swim, or even just take breaks
to go for quick walks, and make time for an hour or so to exercise or indulge
in outdoor games on weekends. There are many ways to plan your exercise
schedule in accordance with your lifestyle – all you need to do is put some
effort into it. In this regard, you can seek some inspiration from the
Sardinians, who ‘exercise’ by cutting wood, pasturing sheep, feeding cows and
trimming trees. Of course, you may not be able to do this, but you can bicycle
to work or the supermarket, and cut and trim your lawn.

Manage stress better
You cannot avoid stress, what you can do is manage it and
try to cut it down. Experts suggest a few ways to beat the stress, which
includes building the right supportive social circle and spending more time in
the company of your family. The focus on family is particularly important in
view of a research establishing that that the life expectancy of married people
and grandparents who stay with their families is higher than single and
divorced people.

Pay attention to all aspects of health
Even as you lead a healthy lifestyle, get the clean chit
from doctors by scheduling timely check-ups. As you age, your body becomes more
susceptible to specific debilitating disorders. Heart, eye and dental check-ups
are imperative, as are other examinations in connection with factors like
gender and family medical history.

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