Aging Well


"Brix: Gusto ko pagtanda ko katulad ko si Raffy Alunan. (When I grow old I want to be just like Raffy Alunan.)

Gene: Pare, dati nang guwapo yun. (Dude, hes always been handsome.)"

AGING is now considered a disease.

Or, as my favorite beatnik philosopher Alan Watts would have said, aging is now considered a disease. This mind shift among health professionals and increasingly, among the educated public has tremendous implications in the way we approach the aging process. In the past, physical aging was resignedly expected. Now, with better science and greater access to knowledge, our bodies can be tweaked and tinkered with for optimal function to the very end.

One new fact is that only 30 percent of any man or womans longevity can be blamed on genetic factors. Health behavior the choice of food, environment, and activity accounts for 70 percent of living long and strong. For indeed, worldwide, this new century will not only see an active elderly population (the elderly defined as 65+) but also a new group called the "oldestold," or those 85 and older. 20 percent of the worlds elderly population or 61 million people are in the oldest old. By 2020, this group will double to 146 million.

So what causes aging? 3 main areas contribute to aging and death: aging of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular system), aging of the immune system, and aging caused by accidents and the environment. Clogging of the arteries from a diet of highly saturated fat can cause heart attacks and strokes. A weak immune system and environmental toxins may cause some forms of cancer. Of course, accidents may mean premature death.

What accelerates aging? There are lifestyle choices that push you closer to an early grave. These are: Overeating and poor nutrition, smoking of whatever form, excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise, lack of mental challenge, and feeling unloved or uncared for. How many of these can you control? All of them.

Successful aging. According to John Rowe MD of Mount Sinai Hospital and School of Medicine, successful aging is the ability to maintain three key behaviors. These are:

* Actions that produce low risk of disease

* High mental and physical action

* Active engagement with life

Prevention is the main action producing low risk of disease.

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