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The Secret of Aging Well

Dr.Prithika Chary, Consultant Neurologitst & Neurosurgeon

"Habits that are established young in life may help determine how healthy you will be in old age. Maintaining good habits and positive attitudes is what we should all be aiming for. Once a couch potato does not mean always a couch potato. It's never too late to establish good habits, but it's never too early either." – a report from .

The NIH Word on Health, June 2002.



Successful aging — a term coined by MacArthur Foundation researchers is well within your grasp. What does it require? The desire and means to sidestep disease, sustain a high level of mental and physical function, and engage actively in life.
It is not just about living longer, it is about living better. Successful aging is about quality of life, not just the number of years lived
Healthy aging = Independence + Dignity + Choice
What does a person's 'age' really mean? It does count the number of years lived, but as we continue to live longer, we need to watch how well we are living and how successfully we are aging,


A chronic illness may be considered unhealthy but, if managed properly, the person suffering from that illness may be able to lead a normal, healthy life, A healthy lifestyle will have a positive impact on a person at any age. Proper diet, exercise and preventive healthcare are three primary means to maintaining your physical health.


Successful aging is also tied very heavily to a person's mental health. Just as with physical health, decline in mental health is not a consequence of growing older. Keeping the mind active through stimulating activity such as reading or word games or even talking with friends and neighbors about a current news event helps keep the mind agile. Sharing and caring about others builds up a good support system.


If you live to celebrate certain milestones of age, your life expectancy expands . On average, a 65-year-old has roughly 18 more years to live, while a 75-year-old has about 11 years longer. In other words, the longer you live, the longer you’re likely to live. The oldest old are often remarkably healthy. Longevity without quality of life is not necessarily a desirable endpoint.


Aging depends on multiple factors – genetic makeup and heredity, health history, environment, personal nutritional and health habits, financial resources, activity level, and attitude


The key to successful aging is a healthy, common sense lifestyle.


Visit your doctor regularly.
Participate in activities that stimulate your brain, such as reading, crossword puzzles, playing bridge, and other mental exercises
Manage stress through techniques such as relaxation, meditation and yoga.
Treat depression. Depressed elders have higher rates of dementia, lower quality of life and higher rates of death.
Be social. Maintaining a network of friends will lessen the likelihood of isolation and depression while increasing the overall level of brain stimulation.
Exercise daily, such as walking 30 minutes per day. Physical activity significantly lessens the chance of cardiovascular complications that could cause dementia..
Control hypertension, diabetes and heart disease—risk factors for dementia—through physical exercise, quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and avoiding obesity.
Follow a healthy diet and take vitamins, including vitamins C and E, and folic acid.
Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol has a direct toxic effect on the brain that adds to the loss of nerve cells and synapses.



What can you do to age successfully ?

Your road map to healthy aging is good nutrition, adequate physical activity, accident prevention, medication safety, taking right precautions with the weather, and socializing

Don't Retire: Get a Part-time Job or Volunteer

Treat your brain like any other muscle – exercise it. Working or volunteering in a complex environment can provide challenging problem-solving opportunities for older adults to flex their mental muscles.


Social Support Network

Isolation is a powerful risk factor for poor health so it’s extremely important for seniors to develop a support network of friends, family and others before a crisis occurs. Support comes from many sources and from all age groups, successful agers learn how to ask their support network for help and accept help when needed.


Relationships are Essential

Humans are social beings, developing connections with others that are often maintained over a lifetime. Not only do successful agers maintain close relationships with family and friends, but they also develop new relationships by participating in their community.


Resilience and Adaptability

Maintaining a flexible attitude helps successful agers bounce back from life’s misfortunes. This ability to make changes as we age helps us maintain a balance in life and enables us to transition as function declines.


Keep Playing

Successful agers cultivate their interests (particularly non work-related ones) before retirement. Engaging in fun activities enlarges your circle of friends, creating a support network and helps you keep a healthy, happy outlook toward life.


Healthy Habits

Eat healthy and exercise. Quit bad habits. Drink in moderation and stop smoking. If you’re struggling with health habits, find a role model and observe their habits.


Keep Learning

Retirement doesn’t mean retreating from the world. It’s a time to learn new skills and interests. Aging people with new interests have more positive experiences.


Healthy Attitudes

Positive attitudes are essential for successful aging. Negative attitudes contribute to physical and mental illnesses which reduce life span and quality of life..


Maintaining Autonomy

A sense of choice is essential to successful aging. Individuals who learn how to maintain their independence as their life changes will age successfully.Successful aging includes vibrant faith in our ability to make the best of life. Sooner or later, all persons begin to dwell on the fact they are aging. How they handle or act upon their thoughts determines the outcome.


>>> If you are 30, quit smoking and alcohol, start walking, getting enough sleep ,eat the right foods, keep learning something new and be resilient – learn to bounce back from the bumps of life and enjoy life with enthusiasm and energy
>>> If you are 40 do all of the above and have a health checkup to enable early detection of chronic disorders like hypertension and diabetes mellitus which can be controlled.

>>> If you are 50 do all of the above and have a cancer screening and bone densitometry done
>>> If you are 60 do all of the above and do not retire from life – keep both body and mind alert and active. Retirement is the best time to stop acting your age. Take care to avoid falls and loneliness.
>>> If you are 70 do all of the above and celebrate the fact you made it this far with good quality of life. Share your love and wisdom with others.
>>> If you are 80/90 or above do all of the above and congratulations on aging successfully ! “Old age to the unlearned is winter time, to the learned it is harvest time” – Old Yiddish proverb