5 Ways to Get Seniors to Reverse the Aging Process and Stay Healthy
Whether it’s your parents, your aunts or uncles, or even the neighbor you look after down the street, keeping those you care about healthy is a paramount concern the older they get. As people age, it’s well known that physical changes can been seen within chromosomes of cells – the so-called telomeres (or chromosome caps) that shorten in length as people get older. The longer the telomere caps, the more youthful your body is from a “biological age” standpoint.
How do you keep it young?
In recent years, much as been written about the $58 billion anti-aging industry where you can get your biological age tested (such as celebrities like Will Smith), where you can buy supplements that have been proven to help reverse functional aging, and even go through hyperbaric oxygen treatments.
For Maintaining Youth, No Fancy Approach Needed
Most doctors will tell you, though, there doesn’t have to be any fancy approach to slow or even reverse the aging process. And while programs and supplements are great, you don’t have to spend a great deal of money to find your own Fountain of Youth. Here are 5 areas to encourage the seniors about taking better care of themselves.
1. Get Them on a Healthy Diet.
Certainly, diet should come as no big secret here. Americans, in particular, often eat poorly, chowing down on fast food high in bad cholesterol, refined sugar-filled desserts, and processed foods that the body often ends up storing as fat. Instead, most doctors recommend a diet based in natural foods – green vegetables, nuts and eggs (both high in selenium), beans, lean protein such as organic chicken or wild-caught fish, with limited amounts of red meat. Indeed, a few months ago, we interviewed Dr. Edward Layne, a prominent gastroenterologist who runs a number of nutritional clinics around the Atlanta area. He joked there were “4 ways” to reverse the aging process, which his words were “nutrition, nutrition, nutrition, and nutrition.” Throw out the junk food, was his advice, saying: “If you want to be young and sexy, the only way to do that is to eat right.”
2. Encourage Walking or Other Age-Appropriate Exercise.
As you get older, strenuous exercise gets harder and harder to accomplish. Forget about what you may read about Cross-Fit, lifting weights or any other intense form of working out, those options aren’t likely in the cards for the average individual in their 70s or 80s. At that age, what’s important is to simply encourage your senior to keep moving. Walking, for example, is perfect age-appropriate exercise. If they can play tennis or golf, that’s also great. Recent studies have shown a link between regular exercise and lengthening of the telomeres, suggesting that regular exercise may be able to help us live longer.
3. Help Them Get Together with Friends, and Even Have a Drink
One of the more fascinating studies of aging and longevity we’ve seen in recent years came from The New York Times Magazine piece, The Island Where People Forgot to Die,” which focused on several different areas around the world that had populations that lived far beyond the norm. In it, they talked about the importance those societies placed on diet and exercise, but also on friendship and community. Indeed, one of the common aspects of those longer-living cultures was the social interactions with others. For whatever reason, scientists believe that having others around to talk to, joke with, and even have an occasional drink, helps to sustain longevity, as the desire to interact gives individuals reasons to continue to get up in the morning. (Indeed, in many of the societies, more frequent sex – even at an older age – also played a big role in keeping its participants young.)
If you have a parent, relative or neighbor who lives alone, you can try connecting them with individuals that might be willing to go for a walk with them, have coffee or sustain some other social interaction. If you can do it yourself, that’s great. But even younger people who might be willing to spend some time with the elderly can work.
4. Talk to Your Seniors About the Importance of a Good Night’s Rest
Studies have shown that getting regular sleep (7 to 9 hours each night) can help sustain the chromosomes’ telomeres, biologically keeping people younger. Talk to your senior about the importance of rest. Stress, worries, or poor habits right before bed (watching TV or surfing the internet on your phone) can impact the quality of sleep. Reading books or even listening to apps such as Calm, have been shown to help people relax and fall asleep more easily. Also, exercise (done at least 3 hours before bed) or meditation is also recommended.
5. Help Them Get a Functional or Biological Age Test
One strategy you can try is to get your senior tested to learn their functional or biological age. Functional age tests can help you better understand the way your body actually functions and what a benchmark is for your age group. These tests focus on noninvasive methods of measuring certain physiological biomarkers, such as lung function, heart rate, blood pressure and other areas. If you are able, you can ask your senior’s doctor for more information. Biological age tests typically require blood or some other DNA sample, and they measure the telomere length, looking at the aging of cells. Once you have an understanding of your senior’s biological or functional age, you can then challenge them to try to keep reducing it over time and then getting them subsequently get tested again to keep them engaged in the process.
At LIFEID, our goal is keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe. That’s why we recommend one of our medical ID bracelets, Apple Watch Sleeves, and holsters, which can speak for them in the case of any emergency. Our medical IDs let professionals know if your family members are at greater risk for particular diseases or conditions, should they not be able to speak for themselves.