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Many scientists believe that the maximum human life span is approaching
120 years. Right now, an estimated 50,000 people are 100. In 50 years, there will be one million!

If you ask most people if they would like to live to 100, many will answer yes as long as they remain healthy and in control of their faculties. However, the aging process can rob you of many healthy fulfilling years. To some extent, you can control how rapidly you age. All it takes is a little smarts— being able to distinguish natural aging from the stereotype; and guts— the resiliency to overcome those minor aches and pains that show up after 50.

Beyond that, here are three areas to focus on in slowing the aging process.

DIET

* Stay active - burn 1,500 to 2,500 calories a day; activity is a big factor in weight control and digestion.
* Eat a varied diet - easy on salt and fats, increase carbohydrates and fiber; stay away from chemically processed foods.
* Eat small meals - avoid the coffee breakfast, sandwich lunch and big plate dinner; instead, have four or five smaller meals evenly spread out.
* Hydrate yourself - don’t dry up; drink six to eight glasses of water a day

ATTITUDE

* Have the right mental outlook - believe that a long, fulfilling life is realistic
* Be an optimist - don’t dwell on the negative; don’t be discouraged by occasional setbacks
* Stay in control - Self-sufficiency, autonomy and independence are critical to successful aging
* Maintain your creative spark - stimulate your creativity; read, study a new language, take an art class, tend a garden, learn a musical instrument
* Train your brain- Smart people live longer; train your brain
* Make yourself necessary - do volunteer work, care for a pet, do projects with grandkids
* Have sex - disregard the myths; new evidence says that physical causes (chronic illness, prescription drug use), not psychological causes, create sexual problems for the elderly. Have a robust sex life into your 90s and beyond.
* Sleep - get enough sleep; older people experience disturbed sleep; however, the real culprit may be inactivity. After exercise, older people fall asleep quicker and sleep longer.

EXERCISE

Start with short walks and work your up; optimal value comes with three half-hour exercise sessions per week at an intensity that increases heart rate, makes you sweat, but you can still carry on a conversation.

To accomplish the above, remember

* It’s going to take time
* Look for role models for encouragement - 80 and 90 year olds getting college degrees, etc.
* Don’t allow small failures to become excuses to quit

Happy 100th birthday—in advance!