Sewing a Silver Lining into the Golden Years

blogpic_gabrielleI know I am not alone in my need for control. It doesn’t matter what it is, I have the urge to be in control at all times (or at least feel like I am). I acknowledge I rarely have any real control, and I believe the technical diagnosis for this condition makes me a “control freak.” While I like to think I am in recovery for this, my husband may think otherwise.

However, there is good news about wanting to take control–at least when it comes to our health. In fact, aging experts are encouraging everyone to do just that with scientifically based research to show that we can! It’s an encouraging and empowering message that is never too early or too late to hear.

Recently, I’ve attended conferences and conducted interviews with some amazing individuals who are aging experts spreading the word about ways we can take control of our aging process and enjoy long and healthy lives. Research findings are shattering the stereotypes that surround older adults and revealing that significant health declines do not have to be inevitable–instead we all can make lifestyle choices now that lead to a better aging experience later.

Eat healthful foods, remain physically active with consistent exercise routines or just take regular walks, stay socially connected with people and friends and pursue a personal passion or goal to give life meaning. Those are just some basic lifestyle choices we all know we should do, but more research studies are showing that making conscious decisions and being intentional about those kinds of choices not only benefit us in the moment but can ensure we’ll be reaping health benefits in the long run as well.

Just last week I had the chance to meet an inspiring woman about to celebrate her 103rd birthday and hear from a motivated 90-year-old man who still runs his own company and goes to work each day. They reminded me of Nana –my own great-grandmother who lived to be 104. All of them talked about the passion they had to continue learning (always reading), to change their environments in order to have stimulating interaction with others (volunteering and holding jobs) and to keep challenging themselves in different ways. Those actions helped them age well.

Life expectancy is increasing every year, and it’s not just because of modern medical practices and technological advances, it’s because people are realizing how to take better care of themselves–how to take control in a healthy way. In addition, a recent study found that the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is dropping and the average age of diagnosis seems to be rising in the U.S. And that’s encouraging to know whether you enjoy taking control or not.

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