With more aging U.S. adults and many adults living longer than ever before, our attitudes about growing old are changing — and in the best possible way. Some of the most recent findings include:
The Importance Of Human Connection Cannot Be Overstated
Maintaining healthy relationships can help you live longer. According to Harvard Medical School, “One study found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%–an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.”
How does this work? Socializing provides a whole host of benefits. Most importantly, it reduces stress levels. Spending quality time with family and friends improves gut health, lowers risks of clogged arteries and heart disease, regulates insulin levels, and increases the likelihood of illness and disease… period. Strong family relationships and friendships also lower the risk of dementia, according to Harvard.
Aging in Place Boosts Well-Being!
Emotional and social support are instrumental in a lot of ways… and that includes your healthcare, too. Not only does interaction improve your well-being, a study by the University of Wisconsin revealed that being cared for by a family member decreases instances of hospitalizations. By participating in a Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP program), home health care services- or home care, family members and loved ones can help aging parents, spouses, or relatives gain confidence, heal faster, and live more independently. Feelings of isolation can make it difficult to complete even simple day-to-day tasks. On the other hand, a loved one working with and supporting seniors through CDPAP programs motivates aging Americans to do more and be more independent.
Going Outdoors Is A Must
Spending time outside is another way for seniors to improve longevity–and it works as part of a senior living community, CDPAP program, or among those living entirely independently. A study in Medical News Today shows that seniors who step outside–whether it is to take a walk, sit on the porch and enjoy a cup of coffee, garden, etc.–“were at the lowest risk of death.” Seniors who rarely or never went outdoors had the highest mortality rates. Being outside lowers stress hormones, overall stress levels, and improves mental health.
Creating And Nurturing Meaning At All Stages of Life
Finally, a sense of meaning or purpose is another key to a long life. Among U.S. adults, those who live to 80 tend to live longer in general. Adults who reach the milestone of age 80 live an average of eight to 10 years longer than others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes. Purpose is the key to getting there.
Purpose can mean anything from art, improving at a favorite hobby, taking care of a pet, picking up a new skill, or learning a language. Setting goals (small or large) is important, and it is wise for aging Americans to determine what they derive meaning and purpose from after retirement. Journaling or talking this over with friends or family can help. Trying new things helps, too. It is perfectly reasonable to make a list of things that pique your interest, try them out for a reasonable amount of time, and rule out the things that you don’t like. Don’t forget to make a note of the things you do enjoy.
People are happiest in their late 60s and up. Make the most of the best years of your life–and live longer, too!–with strong relationships, a CDPAP program or aging in place strategy, spending plenty of time outdoors, and creating meaning as you age.