More than 46 million Americans are over the age of 65, a number set to double within the next generation. As people age, a number of shifts begin taking place in their lives, switching the focus from wealth growth and raising a family to health, long-term care, and overall satisfaction. Aging encourages us to look back to our lives to understand what got us where we are today. Some of us are happy with our lives, while others may have regrets. What influences these outcomes? Is it within us when we are born, in our nature? Or does nurture play a bigger role?
Nature Vs. Nurture: Which affects aging most?
In a recent study on twins and aging, it was determined that of those who lived over the age of 85, nature, or genetics, only accounted for about 20-25% of their longevity. This means almost 80% of the way we age is determined by nurture, or our lifestyle and environments. These findings help us narrow down just what affects the way we age, and how I may be able to influence it with the decisions we make.
How does nurture affect aging?
Now that we know nurture is the main factor in aging, what should we be mindful of? How can we make sure we and our loved ones are aging well? Within the above-mentioned study, four factors stood out as having an impact on aging. Here’s what was found:
Our environment is key to the aging process. Those who live in stress-filled homes or homes with little, or negative social engagement, are more likely to age faster. Homes that lack structure and order, or are unkempt, can add to the stress we feel growing up and cause us to put unnecessary strain on our bodies and minds. In addition, being in environments where little social interaction takes place, or those interactions are consistently negative can introduce unneeded stress.
Stress affects a lot in our lives, it can cause us to feel overwhelmed and out of control. To keep the stress from building, try to simplify the environment you live in. If something is causing you stress, be it too much stuff, or an unorganized space, take steps to reduce those stress-inducing factors. If you are in a situation that negatively impacts your social development or the development of those you love, you may also want to find a way to reduce this stress and tension.
Exercise not only helps us become stronger, but it can also positively impact other areas of our lives, such as our well-being and moods. Those who take time each day to work on their physical selves will see improvements in their body and mind, including increased flexibility, more youthful skin, and a more positive outlook on life. All of these factors contribute to the way in which we age. Exercising keeps our bodies and minds strong and sharp as we move on in years.
We know that what we eat has an impact on our overall health. Filling our bodies with the right foods not only helps keep the weight off and keeps us feeling great, it also helps us as we age. One of the factors that is affected by our eating habits is our metabolism. And our metabolisms have a lot to do with how we age. The better shape we keep them in, by exercising and eating the right foods, the slower the aging process may go.
Many studies have suggested that a Mediterranean-style diet is best for people as they age. When combined with exercise, this diet, which is high in healthy fats and low on things like sugar and red meat, helps us maintain a healthy metabolic rate.
It goes without saying that alcohol, tobacco, excess sugar, and other harmful drugs have a negative impact on our health and should be avoided. These toxins not only have a negative impact on our bodies, but they can also prematurely age us. Our skin and bones can be negatively affected by these toxins, causing us to lose the tenacity we once had. To avoid the premature aging caused by these toxins, they should be discontinued and avoided.
Do you or a loved one need help to master the art of aging gracefully? Surpass Senior Living focuses on a holistic approach to care and living. Our residents are constantly on the move, engaging in social activities with neighbors and friends, and staying healthy by eating nutritious, balanced meals each day. Contact us to schedule your personal tour and learn how Surpass can help you and your loved ones age well.