Just a century ago, you could expect to live until age 50. That’s it. It was “end of the road,” not “over the hill” as we call it today. But thanks to advances in health care and overall standards of living since 1900, the current average life expectancy has risen to 78.4 in the U.S. and 81.5 in Canada, according to the CIA World Factbook. Today, many seniors even live into their 90s or past 100—a feat of healthy, purposeful living that other older adults can model with guidance from senior healthcare professionals.
It makes sense. Seniors who stay healthy live longer. But how can you help seniors maintain good health when the odds of developing dementia, diabetes, heart disease, some form of cancer, or a host of other ailments are against them? Some answers might come from the Greek island of Ikaria where a remarkable one in three natives reach 90 years of age.
According to an AARP The Magazine article called “Live More Good Years,” researchers discovered that, compared to Americans over 90, Ikaria’s 90-plus population experienced 20 percent fewer incidents of cancer, half the rate of heart disease, one-ninth the rate of diabetes and virtually no Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
To encourage similar habits to help North American older adults add years to their life. Advise seniors to eat meals incorporating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, and herbal teas to add important vitamins, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates to their diets. Seniors will also benefit from scheduling walks or daily exercises, naps, and opportunities for social interaction and religious practices into their day. Adopting a carefree attitude about time may not translate as well to our culture of hectic schedules and tight deadlines, but look for ways to reduce stress by demonstrating patience with seniors who might take longer to complete tasks.
Another approach to increasing lifespan takes into consideration not only the good behaviors to adopt, but also which behaviors to avoid. A recent CDC report boils the secret to longevity down into four key habits:
•Do exercise regularly
•Do eat a healthy diet
•Don’t drink alcohol excessively
If your loved one needs help and assistance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, call Mississauga Home Instead Senior Care at 905- 276-2273. Our CAREGivers are available to help your senior stay healthy.
Visit Caregiverstress.com for more information on healthy aging.
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