While it’s true that older adults are living longer than ever before, without good health to enjoy the added years, longevity hardly seems a desirable goal. That’s why innovators and researchers at the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging are so interested in what daily habits can help older adults live healthier lives.
Preventing illness such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, neurodegeneration and depression that usually develop over long periods of time is a primary focus of the institute. And understanding how the body and brain function, right down to the cellular level, helps to inform researchers about what lifestyle habits can help older adults stay healthy and enjoy meaningful, active lives.
Integrative medicine specialist Deepak Chopra, one of the Institute’s contributors, has adopted a number of lifestyle habits that enhance well-being. Chopra suggests that people who want to embrace healthy aging begin with getting 8 hours of sleep every night, practicing meditation and yoga daily, aiming to walk 10,000 steps each day and cultivating a sense of gratitude and compassion. He also advises people to avoid processed foods high in fat and sugar and eat a diverse, plant-based diet. While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Chopra recommends taking a week of silence every year. Spending time in nature is also advised as a stress-reducing practice.
In addition to sleep, diet, exercise and mindfulness, having a sense of purpose has also been scientifically found to help people live longer, healthier lives. Finding a way to make a difference in someone’s else’s life, for the environment or to protect animals are examples of ways that older adults can continue to live a purpose-driven, meaningful life.
Genetics certainly play a role in how well we age, but longevity without a long health span is a concern for an increasingly larger proportion of the population. How society supports a healthier old age is a growing interest not only in the health care field but also to policy makers and technology developers.
Learn more about longevity and quality of life by following this link to the Milken Institute’s website.