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HORIZON BLOG

Why Do Some People Age So Well?

Question

My mother and my mother-in-law are the same age yet have aged so very differently.  At 75 one of them is working, traveling, running, and looking great. The other is practically homebound. She rarely goes out, watches Soaps all day, and looks 10 years older that the other. Neither of these women have any diagnosed health conditions.

What is the secret to being the vibrant 75-year-old versus the one that seems to be significantly withering every time I see her? My wife and I have discussed it and have decided that we want to age with grace and live vibrantly until we just cannot move. What steps do we take to look and feel 10 years younger than we are?  We are in our late 40’s now.

 

Answer

The answer is likely right there in your family. The two women you describe are good examples to study.

What happens as we reach our 40’s and 50’s is often a change in lifestyle that does impact our later years. At your age most are working full-time, still raising children, and so busy that planning healthy elderly years are not part of the equation. We physically move our bodies less, we eat out more, sleep is not always enough, and we are in the prime of our careers with stressful jobs. Our health often takes a back seat. Then by the time we reach retirement age we are overweight, out of shape, and out of habit when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. It is not a great picture, but rather common.

The secret here is not really a secret. It does require not giving in to a sedentary lifestyle. What one of your mothers is doing sounds like all the right things:

  • Keep your mind engaged. Push yourself to learn new things that are a challenge. When one thing is learned pick up another.

  • Stay in motion. Walking, running, pushing, pulling, climbing, biking, formal exercise class, or whatever form of motion suits you. Every day be in motion.

  • Sleep enough. Get to bed early enough to allow your body to get adequate sleep. 

  • Eat breakfast, eat lunch, and eat a light dinner.  Do not eat after dinner.  A full stomach negatively impacts sleep.

  • Weigh yourself daily and keep your weight in the normal range for your height.  Extra pounds are like carrying bags of flour around all day and it really slows you down. 

  • Stay engaged in family, social groups, and neighbors. 

  • Do not give up on grooming just because you are older. Keep your hair styled, your clothing fresh, stay showered, and present with a smile. It does affect how you feel.

Aging well is about caring for the mind and body. You are wise to consider the choices you are making now so that you can adjust if needed. A healthy lifestyle is a choice, and it involves good habits.  You can maintain or establish new habits if you desire. It happens to be about will. I strongly recommend that you make any changes now to impact your future positively. You can give yourselves a good chance of a healthy future and aging well.

 

 

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