Super Senior, James Gray

Aging Well: How to Stay Healthy and Engaged

"Baby Boomers?" How about demographic "Busters!" The first group of over 75 million Baby Boomers has crossed the "senior" mark in their lives. This demographic is the largest aging population in American history and expected to live the longest ever. But living longer is not always living well, or in good health. Sitting in a porch rocker, "retiring" as the days go by, may be ideal for some. But many Baby Boomers claim they want to be active as long as possible and stay engaged as they move through their "golden years." Finding ways to be healthy and energized seniors is a key goal.

Good medical and scientific research reveals important secrets to good physical, mental and emotional health. Here are some tips on areas to focus on for leading a long life of wellness

Nutrition
It's never too late to start eating a well-planned, balanced mix of foods every day to give your body the important nutrients it needs for a long haul. Making healthy choices can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. The National Institutes on Health (NIHSenior Health) and RetiredBrains offer good nutritional guidance for the aging.

Regular Exercise
Doctors often say if they could put exercise in pill form, it would the most widely prescribed drug in the world. The benefits are well documented and numerous. But you don't have to live in the gym to see improvements in your health and longevity. Exercise should be part of a daily routine, like brushing your teeth. As a report by the National Institutes of Health NIH) suggests, "Taking it easy can be risky." Remember to check with your physician if you are a senior just starting an exercise program. NIHSenior Health and the CDC offers good resources to help you get started.

The Happiness Factor
Studies on the link between emotional wellbeing and physical health have gotten better and more conclusive: the mind-body connection is undeniable. The MacArthur Foundation Study of Aging in America reveals some key insights into how we can remain energetic and engaged over the years. "Successful aging appears to depend primarily on the ability to maintain three key behaviors or characteristics: low risk of disease and disease-related disability, high mental and physical function and active engagement with life." Happiness it appears is directly related to how involved we are with family, friends and our community. And that has positive effects on our health. Third Age, an online life style magazine for Baby Boomers, cultivates this notion of community engagement through stories, resources and tips on living and aging well.

Professor Ed Diener of the University of Illinois conducted a study that identified a link between stress and health. He agrees that exercise, nutrition and good health habits (no smoking!) are the foundation of a long life but it may take more. "It may be time to add 'be happy and avoid chronic anger and depression' to the list."

"Your Turn to Care" "super seniors" Stella Beltran and James Gray are good examples of what "staying engaged" and finding joy in life looks like, even in your 80's and 90's!

Funders
MetLife Foundation The Lippey Family Trust Gladyce L. Foster
California Community Foundation