Recent population studies predict that nearly 20% of the UK population, now alive, will live to the age of 100. If you are 60 now then you may be looking at another 40 years!
Sadly, the reality is that many of those years may be marred by disability and disease. Our common perception is of a steady decline leading to a lingering death.
Research increasingly shows that this perception may be wrong. The evidence is that there are simple, practical steps you can take to maintain, and even improve, health, well into old age. Infirmity is not inevitable, or even a genetic predisposition.
Pete Seeger died at the age of 94, on 27 January. Famed for his protest songs, he had a huge influence on Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. But he is also a great example of the kind of old age that most of us would wish for. He played at Obama’s Inaugural Concert with Springsteen in 2009 (at the age of 89), recorded an album last year, and was ‘chopping logs 10 days before he died’, according to his grandson. Stark contrast to what many of us fear old age has in store for us.
Sceptics will say he was one of the lucky ones - ‘it was his genes’. But the evidence is that only about 30% of the diseases associated with ageing are due to our genes; 70% of these problems are related to factors which we can do something about. Furthermore, a number of studies have demonstrated that … it’s never too late to start.
We view ageing positively…...
because we know its not downhill all the way! We can be optimistic about ageing; we can take charge of our health as we get older and we can change the pattern of ageing.
We know that
People are telling us that the new findings give them renewed optimism for a healthy old age and reduced risk for many of the age-associated diseases. But they also tell us that, although the factors and changes needed appear simple, in practice a number of barriers get in the way and stop them from making a real change for themselves.
- Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. Wen CP et al., The Lancet Vol 378, Issue 9798, 1244-1253
- Benefits of Physical Exercise Training on Cognition and Quality of Life in Frail Older Adults. Langlois F, et al. Journals of Gerontology Series B; Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 2012: DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbs069
- The Inflammatory Reflex. Tracey KJ 2002 Nature. 420:853-859