In Part 1 of ‘How We Grow Old, Part 1’, I looked at how our bodies change over time. In this second piece, I look at how we can slow down the aging process…
Only 20% of how we age is down to our genes. A wonderful 80% is due to how we live our lives. So however old you might look on the outside, you can have a younger body on the inside and extend your life by being active.
We’re living longer. Scientists believe that probably 1 person born this year will live to be 150.
Whether you’re 90, 50, or 20, exercising with weights both strengthens your bones and makes your joints more flexible. Which is important especially as we lose up to 20% of muscle strength every year after the age of 50.
One of the benefits of getting older is getting less colds. Why? Well, by age 80, you’ve already had about 200 in your life – and the great way to look at them is that as they are an individual virus, you can never get the same one twice.
Scientists tell us that older brains can be best – with many not reaching their peak until we’re in our 70s. ‘Having a senior moment’ as my mum used to say happens as the connections that wire the brain together break down. But the brain is a clever thing – so good news is that we get a whole lot of new connections to make up for it.
Brains can slow down, but there’s a very logical reason. You’ve lived longer, know more and stored more stuff every day – so searching through all the filing cabinets in our cranium can understandably take a little longer.
Our brains make up for this by wiring up our left logical brain and our right creative brains with new connections in ways that youngsters can’t. The result? We can be more creative and intuitive in later life.
After all we’re not born with it. We gain it as we have more knowledge and experience – we have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
So older folk like us are better at understanding how younger people think – after all we’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt – so we’re also better at resolving conflicts.
You’re never too old to fall in love. It’s a sad fact that over 2m people in Britain feel isolated and live alone. They often feel that they're too old for love. But love lasts a lifetime: it’s an emotion that never dies.
Love, health, and happiness are all tied together. Whether it’s a person, a pet or a plant – looking after someone or something else helps our health and helps us live longer – and can cut the chance of a heart attack by a third. Companionship on average helps men live an extra 2 years and women an extra 7 years. Why? Well, when you look after someone and they depend on you, we become more caring and more empathetic.
As we get older we become more honest too. Scientists have found that we lie less often. In fact, we become as honest as children. Why? Well, we’re comfortable in our own skin and less worried about what others think of us.
So growing old is great as we become more trustworthy, wiser and honest… we understand emotions better and we can show people that we can really love them. So growing old we can be as happy as we’ve ever been.