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Thriving into Late Life

Updated: Feb 12

Your chances of living well into late life and longevity depends on how you plan for it. In 1900 it was expected men would live about 41 years and women about 44. Now the expected life span is 77 and 81 in the developed world. In the article in the Journal of Active Aging "The future of longevity: the science of thriving into late life" volume 22 issue 4, Michael Roizen MD is interviewed by Colin Milner and he states that 'If you now are expecting to live to age 90, you may find yourself now looking at a life expectancy of 115 or so' with better chronic disease management and when people adapt their behaviors that foster health.

Dr. Roizen expects that in 10 years 90 will be the new 40. As people adapt their behaviors that foster health, they are essentially shifting from a paradigm of care supplemented by wellness to one where wellness takes center stage complemented by necessary care.

By adopting healthful lifestyle behaviors, the possibility of living many years in ill health, pain, discomfort, disability and needing longterm care will be history.

The question is, how do we get there and how can we really thrive at this advanced age?

What we know is that previous and current lifestyle affects quality of life. Most of all the chronic medical conditions are the result of unhealthy lifestyles and environmental issues we had no control over such as the many Vietnam vets that came in contact with agent orange which are causing many chronic medical conditions as they age. Additionally exposure to environmental hazards that were without and within our control such as second hand smoke, sedentary lifestyle, lifestyle of insufficient exercise, unhealthy food choices and excessive calories are examples of hazards that often cut life short.

What behaviors do we need to adopt to foster health and longevity?

  • Friendships and positive community connections.

  • Moving more and less sitting, reclining and lying down.

  • Eating healthful nutrition such as low fat, minimally processed whole foods and plant based nourishing meals, avoidance of proc eased foods, and controlling your caloric intake or better portion control.

  • Staying engaged in life, find jobs and activities with purpose in a way to connect with meaningful experiences that inspire you, obtain more skills and bring you joy.

  • Follow your passion, do what makes you tick. Keep learning and experience new activities, be open to noval ideas.

  • Sufficient and regular physical activity and targeted exercise if you have chronic medical conditions. There are specific exercise guidelines for all age groups and for the specific medical conditions you may have. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides the guidelines for health, fitness and medical fitness. Health: there are minimal exercise guidelines for health and disease prevention. when you do not meet these guidelines functional declines are happening and gradually leading to frailty, disability, loss of independence, and premature death. Fitness: Meeting the exercise guideline for fitness and you can expect a higher level of fitness. Performance: Exercising for sports specific training and you can expect a higher level of sports performance.

  • Exercise is Medicine: specific exercise guidelines are available for the various chronic medical conditions. You can visit the following link for motor information. Exercise is Medicine Rx for Health Series

You have probably heard of the term "Aging Gracefully". Know that aging gracefully does not just happen and it takes planning. As our physical therapist Bayla says; " older adults should be proactive about their health and functional abilities and age with balance and fierce vitality well into their 9th decade of life." Research shows that loss of function, falls and frailty are merely the result of insufficient physical activity and too much sitting.

Since now we know more about how to extend our health-and life-span, I firmly believe that Aging in Place in the home of our choice maybe possible to age 115 or beyond.

Reference: 2023 Volume 22 article in the Journal of Active Aging "The Future of Longevity: the science of thriving into late life" .

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