Parade Magazine published an article on August 6 which surprised me: most of us aren’t too keen on living past 100 years or so.
I’m not so unusual after all. I’ve often wondered why people focus so much on longevity — sure, I want to live as long as possible, but with one caveat. To put it bluntly, I don’t want to outlive my usefulness. I’m way more interested in keeping the quality of my life stable than I am in drawing a breath, regardless of my physical and mental state. And, according to a recent study, most folks feel the same way I do.
By the same token, the same study shows that most Americans are confident that new medical advances are right on the horizon, including finding a cure for specific types of cancer.
Here’s another surprise: research also reveals that we grow happier as we grow older. The happiest age? 85. Yep. That’s right. 85. So, at least here in the United States, this will be one cheery place as baby boomers continue to age.
What’s the true Fountain of Youth?
Not surprisingly, healthy living, both physically and mentally, is what keeps us young at heart. On the physical front, research shows that keeping a healthy weight through diet and exercise is crucial.
Physical activity not only reduces risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, it helps maintain good joint and bone health. Which leads to another tip to keep us physically at the top of our game: taking a calcium supplement. Taking 1500 mg of calcium a day ensures bone health; taking it in small doses (500 mg) two or three times a day aids absorption. Additionally, adequate vitamin D intake is essential. According to WebMd, a supplement containing 1,000 IU helps the immune system and contributes significantly to bone health.
Mental and Emotional Health
Not only is the “use it or lose it” mentality important to our physical bodies, research shows that keeping mentally active reduces Alzheimer’s and dementia risk. In fact, those who retire at a later age are more likely to be mentally sharp as they age. In a study of 429,000 self employed workers, those who retired at 65 were 14% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who retired at 60, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Ponce de Leon may not have discovered the fountain of youth, but it looks like medical researchers have.