Senior Citizens and Longevity

Jun 10th, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Some of the past 200-plus posts on this blog have dealt with longevity issues for senior citizens.  Many of us have tried to find the proverbial fountain of youth in a variety of pills, boxes, salves and other potions that supposedly have curative and life-preserving qualities.  A distillation of research, however, reveals the ‘secrets’ of long life aren’t in something one can buy.  Rather, the secrets are in three simple life style choices.

Diet: The more healthy one’s diet, the more healthy is one’s life.  Another traditional way of stating this obvious choice is, “You are what you eat.”  One research study after another tells us that the more fruits, vegetables, fiber, lean protein and EFAs you eat, the healthier your body will be.  The most amazing discovery many people make when they seriously take a look at diet is this: You can eat well, with a lot of diversity in foods, and with great tantalizing taste, feeling full after each meal… and contribute to longer life in the process.  Fast foods, boxed and/or canned dinners generally speaking don’t belong in the ‘healthy’ food category.  Fresh food, locally grown, with good fiber and 6-8 ounces of lean protein daily create a healthy diet that contributes to longevity.

Exercise:  Exercise based on one’s ability, and recognizing medical and health limitations, is the second ingredient for longevity.  Research suggests a daily regimen of exercise, directed by a physician, contributes to both physical and mental health.  Some recent studies go so far as to suggest exercise even helps the brain function better, even for senior citizens.  Physical activity that sends blood to the brain, fortified with oxygen essential for healthy cognitive functioning, leads to a stronger body as well as a stronger mind. 

Social Connections:  We’ve had a lot to say about the importance of relationships for senior citizens.  Just yesterday we talked about studies that correlate friendships with improved social functioning in seniors.  People, no matter the age, who feel important in the lives of others, and who have friendships that are important to them, feel more involved with life and living.  They define their ‘raison d’etre’ and a big piece of that lies in relationships with significant others.  Octogenarians are the first to describe their friendship circles.  We can all learn from them the importance of social connections in life, and the critical nature as it relates to longevity.

So the three points here are diet, exercise and social connections.  The combination of these three elements takes seniors a long way toward living longer, more productive and happier lives.  Give this triad a try.  It’s better than the alternative!



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