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  • Writer's pictureDr. CK Bray

Living to 100 Years Old!


A fancy new retirement home was recently built within a mile of my home. As a family, we decided to visit at least once a month. It is incredibly fun to meet these individuals and hear about their lives. What is most shocking is how many of them are in their late 90s and are active, vibrant, and hilarious. It got me thinking about becoming a centenarian. In an era where advancements in healthcare and technology are expanding our lifespan, the desire to live to a hundred years old is becoming more attainable. In fact, your chances of living to be 100 years old are twice as likely as it was two decades ago.

But living to be 100 years old should not be the only goal; it is also how healthy you are as you reach your later years. This definition is referred to as healthspan. Healthspan is the number of years an individual lives in good health, free from chronic diseases and disabilities. While lifespan focuses on the number of years, healthspan emphasizes the quality of those years. A long lifespan without a corresponding healthspan can be marked by diminished physical and cognitive function, hindering one's ability to enjoy life. Therefore, shifting the focus to healthspan becomes crucial to unlocking the secrets of a fulfilling and prolonged life.

There are several contributors to an extended healthspan. They all work together to increase your lifespan. The first is adopting a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with adequate sleep are the foundation of a healthy life. Engaging in exercise not only helps to maintain physical fitness but also promotes mental well-being and cognitive function. Prioritizing sleep supports the body's restorative processes and contributes to overall health and longevity.

Another aspect is Social Connections and Emotional Well-being. Leading a socially active life and maintaining strong relationships can significantly impact healthspan. Research suggests that individuals with a strong support system and regular social interactions have reduced risk factors for various health conditions, including heart disease and mental health disorders. Meaningful connections with friends, family, and community members provide emotional support, combat loneliness, and promote a positive outlook on life, all of which contribute to a longer and healthier life.

Lifelong Learning and Mental Stimulation are important as you continue challenging the mind and engaging in lifelong learning. Keeping the brain active through activities such as reading, puzzles, and learning new skills helps preserve cognitive function and reduces the risk of age-related cognitive decline, including conditions like dementia. Staying mentally stimulated enhances memory, problem-solving abilities, and overall mental well-being, enabling individuals to lead vibrant and fulfilling lives, even in their later years.

Living to be a hundred years old is not solely about reaching the milestone but about maintaining good health, vitality, and quality of life throughout those years. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, fostering social connections, and engaging in lifelong learning we can have a fulfilling and meaning life at any age.

 

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