In our last piece on aging in the news, we talked about the ever increasing number of older adults. It is staggering and we need to pay attention. But, there is more to care about than just numbers. We need to understand how to increase life expectancy and how to do it in healthy ways.
Nobody wants to live longer without being able to enjoy that life.
In continuing to look at the United States Census Bureau’s report called An Aging World, which you can read by clicking here, this time we are focused on Drivers of Increase or Decrease in Life Expectancy at Age 60…
Here’s the visual chart first. Take a look.
What’s the first thing you see? Of course, it’s probably different for everyone.
Maybe you noticed that men in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as men in high-income countries, are very susceptible to tobacco use!
MEN, STOP SMOKING or CHEWING or whatever it is you are doing with TOBACCO!
Maybe you noticed that injuries aren’t as prevalent for increasing death rates as you might have guessed.
Maybe you noticed that cancers have less of an impact as it relates to other issues, especially considering how many people we know are affected by these dreaded diseases.
Or maybe you are like me and noticed how big the blue portion of that chart is for everyone!
What is that blue portion? Cardiovascular disease and diabetes (combined)!
Wow! I find that incredible. Yes, these diseases do have some genetic predisposition associated with them but that is not the whole story. There are things you can do to help yourself avoid these killers.
Things you can do right now!
So, let’s get to it!! To give yourself a fighting chance, pay attention to these things:
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Using these products presents a significant risk of increasing heart disease.
- Watch your weight. You may notice your metabolism slowing down as you age so follow a heart-healthy diet and exercise for about 30 minutes every day of the week.
- Get regular health screenings and have your blood sugar level checked. Always check blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Starting at 45, you should have your blood sugar tested, which can serve as a baseline in future years.
- Get plenty of sleep and pay attention to snoring. You should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, which can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
- Manage stress. While some stress is good, chronic stress or coping with stress in unhealthy ways is not good.
- If you have been diagnosed with heart conditions or diabetes, follow your treatment plan. Following your plan lowers your risk.
- Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Not everyone experiences sudden numbness with a stroke or severe chest pain with a heart attack. Also, men and women may differ in symptoms.
These are all important things. Probably many of them are information that you already know. Great! So then, you are following these strategies, right?
Maybe not. Understanding information is one thing. Taking action is another. Here are some ideas to get you to actual change some of your bad habits and increase your life span!
- Know your goal and outline the steps to achieve it.
- Make a realistic plan on how to follow through on those goals.
- Understand what you need to accomplish your goals.
- Think about obstacles that may impede your progress.
- Take a step. Small steps are fine but you have got to start with the first one!
THE BEST PART!
- Reward yourself. Celebrate even the smallest success (and not with an ice cream sundae!). Plan out good rewards ahead of time!
Ready – go for it! Add some years to that beautiful life of yours!!
Please remember that I am not a medical doctor. You should review all health plans with your doctor. Having a good doctor/patient relationship also aids in longevity, so really, talk with your doctor.
Most information provided by the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the American Diabetes Association.