You can imagine that I follow a lot of clinical news feeds, and I keep files. I have files for dementia, files for residential living options and yes, I have a file for research that gives us insights into how people who live longer got there.
There is no one secret to living longer, but there are some things that people who live longer do that can help us all:
• An 80 year-long study that tracked people and their mental habits found that people who are more thoughtful and “plan-ful” live longer.
• Multiple studies have consistently shown that people who have more friends or are more socially-active live longer. (They probably also have more fun…)
• But choose your friends carefully, because their habits rub off…do your friends work out or do they smoke, do they make good food choices or eat junk?
• In the “friends” vein, people who are married or have been married (divorced or widowed) live longer than those who have stayed single.
• Napping is good for you; those who nap regularly have a 37% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
• That extends to your overnight sleep also; people who get less than 5 hours of sleep a night are simply less healthy…if you snooze, you WIN.
• Eat more fiber and fruits and vegetables; the end result is a much reduced risk for obesity … especially the belly fat that is the greatest risk.
• Regular exercise to the tune of at least two and a half hours a week helps fend off heart disease, depression and some kinds of cancer.
• If you drink alcohol – one drink a day for women and one to two for men; moderation reduces the risk of heart disease more than even than those who don’t drink at all.
• Be chill – people who don’t carry a grudge or who are not always crabby or who are less stressed have lower rates of heart disease as well as other health issues.
• Have a purpose in your life – you will live longer and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
These are the big issues to use as your guide to a longer life. As you read them, you may find that many of them make for a happier life as well. That probably is not a coincidence! Live well.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.