Healthy Aging

How to Age Well: Seniors Can Enjoy High a Quality of Life Despite Challenges

Across the globe and the United States, people are living longer than ever before with the population of older adults rising quickly. According to a recent report, more than 700 million adults are living over the age of 65. With longer life expectancies and improved survival rates from comorbidities, the number of older adults across the globe is predicted to double to 1.5 billion by 2050.

With a focus on how to age well, families, governments, and nonprofits are aiming to resolve issues related to health care, affordable housing, social security, independent living, and retirement for this growing population. Common geriatric conditions, such as dementia, injuries from falls, incontinence, delirium, and others pose burdens on families, caretakers, and society. Unfortunately, despite decades of research, there is inadequate evidence of proactive approaches to improve the health and well-being of seniors.

Societal Factors Influence Whether Seniors Age Well  

At the Institute for Population Health Sciences, we aim to work with national and international experts to tackle social and cultural factors that may influence wise and healthy aging, including effective intervention and prevention strategies.

Healthy aging isn’t simply about living longer; it’s about preserving the ability to be mobile and live independently, too. How to age well considers a person’s overall physical, mental, and cognitive reserves, including capabilities influenced by genetics, lifestyle choices, and accumulated health conditions.

A range of societal health factors, including community, economic stability, education, and access to healthy food and healthcare, can shape how a person ages and the challenges they are likely to face. Such considerations can influence the quality of life and risk for chronic disease or injury. By addressing societal determinants and promoting health equity, we can create interconnected communities that promote wise and healthy aging.

Many societal elements contribute towards an aging population that is thriving and one that struggles to thrive. For an elderly population to age well, policymakers, government agencies, nonprofits, and families must develop creative solutions with regard to accessible healthcare and affordable independent living options. Helping the elderly stay engaged during retirement supports their overall health and wellness.  Such a goal may reduce the caretaking burden as well as minimize the negative effects of chronic diseases. Prevalent geriatric conditions can put a strain on aging adults themselves as well as their family members, communities, and healthcare systems.

Tips For How to Age Well for Seniors

Food Choices: To support healthy aging, seniors can focus on consuming whole foods rather than processed ones. By incorporating fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean proteins into meals, seniors can keep conditions such as diabetes and heart disease at bay. Reducing alcohol and tobacco intake can also mitigate health risks.

Sleep: The Centers for Disease Control recommends seniors get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night though individual sleep needs can vary. Quality sleep with minimal disruptions is also important.

Movement: It is recommended that healthy seniors carry out over 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, including muscle-strengthening movements, balance activities, and brisk walking.

Cognitive and Mental Health: By prioritizing engagement in activities that challenge the brain, being connected socially, participating in hobbies, and addressing mental health concerns, seniors can improve their chances of experiencing a fulfilling and high quality of life as they age.

Proactive Health: Though doctor visits may not be a favorite activity, seniors should take the initiative to manage their health through regular medical screenings, following physician’s guidelines, and taking medications as prescribed.

Healthy Seniors Don’t Buy into Myths About Aging

The notion that people “can’t learn new things as they age” is a common myth. Chronological age does not necessarily impede the capacity for knowledge acquisition and application. Even in retirement, individuals retain the ability to learn new skills, form memories, and enhance their vocabulary.

Another myth is that “dementia is an inevitable consequence of aging.” While age remains a risk factor for dementia, it is not the singular determinant. Some research indicates that dementia could be prevented or delayed when aging adults stay physically and mentally engaged.

Lastly, it is a myth that “exercise isn’t safe for older adults.” Not only is exercise safe but it is also strongly recommended for older adults. It is possible to improve strength, balance, energy levels, and mood through regular exercise. To age well is to stay active and mobile.

Institute for Population Health Sciences (IPHS) Expert Perspectives

President and CEO of IPHS, Dr. XinQi Dong, brings expertise in geriatric medicine with extensive experience in the field of aging. This background has provided him with an in-depth understanding of how aging affects individuals and their communities. He currently works with the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE study), PIETY study, and Cognitive Impairment Caregiving Study to comprehend the health and well-being of Chinese older adults and their families.

IPHS Strives to Improve and Promote Wise and Healthy Aging

The Institute for Population Health Sciences prioritizes collaborative research with regional, national, and international experts. By deepening our knowledge of social and cultural conditions that predispose the elderly to negative health outcomes, we can pave the way for the development of intervention and prevention strategies that support healthy seniors.