Consumer Reports offers some advice on how to live healthy and happily into your 80’s
Sometimes, a long life has to do with sensible advice, sensible living and some common sense. Often, we our beliefs are based on our experiences, our fears, and what we read rather than what we need to know. As our knowledge of aging changes (check out the recent report on 60 minutes), some of the concerns cited by our doctors as we age need to be questioned, such as weight and even blood pressure in the aging population.
While we need to have doctors available to us as we age, often we are over doctored, as evidenced by all the pills many aging seniors are taking because of “diseases” which may just be a normal part of aging. Many things people stress over as they age should be rethought as well, since some of those things are under our control, while others are not.
The current group of folks reaching their 80’s are likely more active and physically fit. This has helped them live longer, healthier and happier lives. Consumer reports offers some great advice for the aging baby boomer population.
Healthy aging into your 80s and beyond
5 keys to a long, healthful life
Sixty years ago an American 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 2,066 Americans 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 Americans 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; 33 percent of those older than 80 have difficulty walking, and more than 25 percent have a tough time simply getting out of chairs, so a fitness plan that maintains strength, flexibility, and 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 and being a lifelong learner are the best ways to reduce the risk of cognitive decline, the situation that respondents feared most about old age.
(Read the earlier reports in our series on managing your health and health care: “The Nurse Practioner Will See You Now,” “A Doctor’s Office That’s All About You,” and “Your Doctor Will E-mail You Now.”)
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 and intellectually engaged in the world around you, and create a living situation that is comfortable and safe.