A recent survey found that 75 per cent of people would prefer to live to 100 years old, if they were in good health. However, the same people surveyed said that they ate too much, didn’t exercise enough and that they wanted to retire at 65. The disconnect? Seemingly, the gap comes from our inability to see, and plan, for distant tomorrows.
The Stanford Center on Longevity has launched an initiative aptly called the Sightlines Project. The goal is to identify critical junctures in the longevity journey and impact change in potential “sweet spots.”
What is thought provoking— aside from the obvious things that the team has identified, such as exercise, managing weight and stress levels, smoking cessation, healthy sleep and nutrition—is that social connectivity appears as an influencer.
Surveys have found that today’s older adults have fewer meaningful interactions and are less engaged with their spouses, communities and religious organizations than in the past. Experts also suggest that volunteering has benefits but people stop these activities after retirement.
Nurturing is an influencer too. With an unhealthy lifestyle, defenses against germs and toxins can be compromised, leading to illness and premature death.
But it’s never too late. Decisions and actions we take today can still affect our quality of life, so here are the big three: (1) Make healthy food choices to control the progression of disease and reduce the length of hospital stays; (2) get physical tests and go for screenings to stop, prevent or delay disease; and (3) cultivate the qualities of a youthful mind and engage in meaningful social activities.
Healthy behaviour today will have an impact later in life, because it just might delay many of the changes that aging causes.
Caroline Tapp-McDougall, Editor in Chief