You can’t change your age or your genes, but there are things you can do to stay healthy as you age. Canadian researchers identified eight factors.
From middle age, most people start thinking about getting old. On the one hand, it often hides the desire to be as fit and healthy as possible. On the other hand, there is also the fear of diseases like dementia, cancer or heart attack Osteoporosis, which often occurs in the second half of life. That is why more and more people choose healthy lifestyles to reduce the risk of diseases in old age. Canadian researchers have now explored the determinants of healthy aging in a study.1 However, conclusions should be drawn with caution.
7,651 Canadians and immigrants were surveyed
Researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada examined two different population groups for their study: immigrants and Canadian-born older adults. In doing so, they used data from two different time periods, between 2011 and 2015, which were collected on a larger scale. Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging were raised. From this, 7651 subjects who were at least 60 years old at the start of the longitudinal study were selected. 1,446 of the participants were Canadian immigrants. In the longitudinal study, subjects were interviewed about their health and underwent a medical examination.
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Criteria for healthy aging
As a basis for their study, the researchers first defined what healthy aging actually is. They divided the criteria into four areas: physical well-being, mental and emotional state, social situation, and self-evaluation of the aging process. In detail, the criteria are defined as follows:
- Ability to perform activities of daily living independently (personal hygiene, eating, ambulation without assistance, etc.)
- Ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living (cleaning the house, cooking, going shopping, going out on your own in daily life, making decisions about your own financial expenses)
- Absence of mental illness and memory problems
- Freedom from chronic pain
- Adequate social support
- Contentment and self-perceptions of physical and mental health
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“Healthy aging” expands for the first time
“Previous definitions of successful aging were too narrow and required older people to be free of all diseases – very few met this definition,” Mabel Ho, one of the study’s lead authors, told Health Portal.Medical News Today“. “I think most people would agree that defining successful aging in terms of mental and physical functioning, social fabric, mental health, and overall well-being makes intuitive sense. At least I will strive in old age,” Ho added.
Analysis of the data revealed that the older the participants, the better and healthier they were.
- … had higher incomes,
- They got married
- Not overweight
- They have never smoked in their lives
- No sleep problems
- was free of heart disease and arthritis,
- Engage in regular moderate to vigorous physical activity,
- (if participants were young at the start of data collection).
However, when other factors were taken into account, the data analysis showed that the Canadian-born were 24 percent older than Canadian immigrants. This was despite the majority of study participants in both groups meeting criteria for healthy aging.
“The good news from our study results is that there were some people who were at a healthy weight, didn’t smoke, and exercised regularly, so older people tend to do better. While you can’t change your age or your genes, you should keep these three important things in mind to stay healthy as you age,” said Dr. Esme Fuller-Thompson, who was involved in the study, cited
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Limitations of the study
However, the scientists involved in the study point out that there are some caveats to the data they used. For example, study participants were not asked some important questions about their mood, perception of satisfaction, and their beliefs. However, these can be important indicators for assessing quality of life. Canadian minorities were also underrepresented in the subjects, so differential statements about aging within different ethnic groups cannot be made.
Also, educated participants were overrepresented in the study. For example, four out of five respondents have a college degree, while less than half of Canadians over the age of 65 are college graduates. Last but not least, candidates were interviewed in English and French. As a result, immigrants who spoke no language fell through the cracks. In the future, more precise data will be needed to better characterize the determinants of healthy aging.
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