More people than ever before are living active lives well into their 80s or 90s. The healthcare field has begun referring to these people as SuperAgers. Many researchers have come up with a few theories and speculations on how to become one.
What is a SuperAger?
Thanks to advances in medical technology and the fact that living a healthy lifestyle is at the forefront of most people’s lives, people are living longer than ever.
SuperAgers are a group of people who not only live well physically, but also continue to demonstrate high levels of cognitive functioning. On average, middle-aged individuals lose approximately 2.24 percent of brain volume every year. In contrast, SuperAgers lose around 1.06 percent annually, making them less prone to developing dementia.
How to Become a SuperAger?
Eat Right and Stay Active
Studies show that people who were on a Mediterranean diet had slower aging effects in their brain. In most cases, the Mediterranean diet is comprised of olive oil, vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains. As we age, our brains start to decay, which affects our everyday life. People who follow the Mediterranean diet have shown significantly less decay than those who don’t.
The risk of developing Alzheimer’s nearly triples for individuals with a body mass index over 30. Regular exercise not only helps us maintain a healthy weight, but it also reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. It also helps us maintain flexibility and mobility, both of which decline as we get older. Even exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can dramatically improve your livelihood and overall health.
Exercise Your Brain
Using your brain is just as important as staying physically active. Particularly after retirement, it’s important to find activities that challenge critical thinking abilities. Puzzles like Sudoku are engaging and stimulate your brain. Learning a new language is another way to maintain brain health as you get older. Finally, playing video games also keeps older minds sharp. Since video games utilize your cognitive and strategic planning abilities, engaging in play can be beneficial.
As we get older, it’s not uncommon for many people to experience social isolation. SuperAgers strive to remain social and engage with others on a regular basis. People who remain socially active also tend to be happier, suffer from fewer illnesses and stay cognitively intact longer than people who spend most of their time alone. Similar to when you’re younger, maintaining friendships is good for you, both mentally and physically.
As with most things in life, there needs to be a balance. In addition to exercising regularly, following a healthy diet and remaining social, SuperAgers know it’s okay to indulge themselves every now and again. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional glass of wine. Research shows that people who drink occasionally are 23 percent less likely to develop senile dementia or Alzheimer’s. The key is knowing your limit and only indulging once in a while.
Growing Old Gracefully
Although getting older is inevitable, there are things you can do to live your best life. In addition to the above-mentioned strategies, your outlook on life plays an enormous role. Life doesn’t have to end just because someone reaches 65 years old. In fact, SuperAgers make the most of this time by traveling and doing things they weren’t able to do when they were younger.
However, if you feel that you might be suffering from a cognitive decline, it’s important to address the issue with your physician. There things that can be done to prevent further cognitive decline.