September is Healthy Aging Month. Let’s Be Proactive With These 5 Things
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Growing old is a privilege denied to many. And even for those who grow old, many may not age healthfully.
There are more than 54 million adults over 65 living in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that by 2040 this number will increase to 80.8 million and to 94.7 million by 2060. According to the National Council on Aging (NCO), 80 percent of adults in this age group have at least one chronic condition (such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes), and 68 percent have two or more.
Disease can happen to any of us (especially as we get older), but there are many things we can do to be proactive about not only aging gracefully but also healthfully.
September is Healthy Aging Month, so let’s review a few of these actionable items.
The key to the future in an aging society is not found in increasing just our life span; we need to increase our health span at the same time."
After experiencing my first eye floater, I became especially vigilant about the health of my eyes. I think we can all agree that losing our eyesight would certainly affect quality of life and independence, yet so many Americans fail to have an annual eye exam. On top of getting your eyes checked, it is imperative to wear sunglasses when outside, eat a healthy and balanced diet (leafy greens are key) and avoid smoking (which is known to contribute to age-related macular degeneration). If you are diabetic, it is extremely important to manage this condition in order to avoid diabetic eye disease. For more information on eye health, check out these pH Labs blogs.
Protect your precious teeth.
Excluding the wisdom teeth, adults have 28 teeth. The CDC reports that 26 percent of adults 65 and older have eight or fewer teeth. “Severe tooth loss—having 8 or fewer teeth—impacts the ability to eat meats, fruits, and vegetables, and presents yet another challenge to having a healthy diet,” according to the CDC. In addition to this, one study suggested a possible connection between tooth loss and a higher risk of dementia in older adults.
The National Institute on Aging discusses the study and reports that participants with more missing teeth on average had a 48 percent higher risk of cognitive impairment and a 28 percent higher risk of dementia.
“The researchers note that the reason for this association between tooth loss and the risk of cognitive decline is unclear,” reports the Institute.
“Still, tooth loss can result in problems with chewing that might lead to nutritional deficiencies, chemical imbalances, or changes to the brain that affect brain function. Also, poor oral hygiene might lead to increased bacteria in the mouth and to gum disease, which can cause inflammation and raise the risk of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, leading to dementia.”
Read here for tips on keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
It's not how old you are. It's how you are old."
About one in three adults between 65-74 has hearing loss. Along with getting regular hearing exams, good nutrition can help you preserve your ability to hear. Check out this pH Labs blog.
In my opinion, one of the most important things to ensure that we can do as we grow older is move. I plan on golfing in my nineties! Of course, the ability to be mobile will also help us maintain independence as we get older. Taking care of your bone and muscle heath is extremely important. This will also help prevent falls, which are common in older people due to sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss).
Dementia is not an inevitable part of aging. Take care of your brain.
“As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed,” according to the CDC.
The CDC also reports that in the United States 6.2 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia). Check out the CDC’s 7 Ways to Help Maintain Your Brain Health.
The good news is that all of the things the CDC lists may also help with the other actionable items discussed.
If you fear or maybe resent getting older, I hope this all makes you realize that there is so much within our control. Sure, things can happen. We cannot control everything, but we can implement daily habits that may significantly increase the likelihood of living a long and healthy life. If you need some “inspo,” take a look at:
- Ernestine Shepherd, 86-year-old competitive bodybuilder
- Dick Van Dyke, 96-year-old former actor, current gym goer
- Joan MacDonald, 75-year-old fit, bikini wearing fitness trainer, who just five years ago was overweight and on medication for high blood pressure.
It is never too late to take ownership of your health. You have the ability to change right now, and small changes can lead to big results. With that said, it is always best to discuss with your doctor major changes to your lifestyle regarding diet, exercise and supplementation.
Lastly, remember what motivates you. Sure, the prospect of looking young for our age as we get older is motivating. But think beyond the vanity aspect:
- Seeing grandchildren and even great grandchildren
- Being pain-free
- Enjoying food
- Going to movies
- Listening to music
Getting older does not mean that your best years are behind you. The best years may be ahead of you, especially if you are proactive about your health and wellness.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.