Life’s journey into the late 80’s and beyond

by Bob Warnagieris, Ed.D.

Longevity has become a rather lively topic these days. Most people are interested in how they can be healthy, deal with stress, offset genetic surprises and enjoy their “Golden Years”. Definitely a positive venture, taking the steps early in life to achieve longevity. It’s reported that many people remain cognitively sharp, have decent short-and-long term memories, and have sufficient energy to pursue a rather vigorous life into their 80’s and beyond.

Improving one’s longevity prospects can be benefit by pursuing 6 major factors to reach and advanced the age of 80 and beyond. The 6 factors include (1) Genetics, knowing your family medical history and your ethnic factors; (2) Nutrition, paying attention to diet, weight control, natural vs processed foods, and cultural habits; (3) Physical activity, the benefits of exercise including aerobics, flexibility, strength and balance; (4) Regular Medical Care, consisting of primary physician and specialists, drugs and supplements, and alternative medicine; (5) Psychological Factors, including stress, spiritual needs, relationships and social connection; (6) Avoidance of known high risks, examples include smoking, alcohol, substance abuse and dangerous activities.

In a recent article, the AARP Bulletin of November 2023 cites the 7 Secrets of the Super Agers, i.e., 90 to 100. The 7 secrets include (1) Controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, (2) Talking to their friends a lot, (3) Avoiding stress and prioritize mental health, (4) Prioritizing sleep, (5) Protecting their vision and hearing (we should add teeth to that), (6) Not exercising more, but pushing themselves physically, (7) Doing more puzzles and Sudoku games than normal seniors. There’s a lot more detail that could be added to these “Secrets”, but suffice to say they all generally represent something most of us can learn about and do if so motivated.

The question then becomes, “Who’s Motivated?” Often seniors say, “Oh, I wouldn’t want to live to be 100.” If one has a genetic defect, a chronic disease or life-threatening malady, it is certainly understandable that suffering into the 90’s and beyond may just not be worth the effort or the accompanying discomfort. These are all very personal factors and decisions. Yet, for those that chose to achieve longevity, the practices mentioned above can greatly improve the quality of life while they are here, however long that may be.

Here’s what one might expect upon reaching the 80th year. More medical issues to address than what you had in the previous 80 years. Plenty of surprises, deficiencies, reduction in mobility and energy, susceptibility to the latest virus, hearing and eyesight decline, teeth implants, aches and pains that just don’t go away, etc. will be in your future. The good news is that soon you will realize that your longevity and enjoyment of life can be improved with some effort. However, for most of us, the late-life years, will also be fraught with health issues, medical appointments, and more pharmaceuticals than you can imagine. Frankly, it takes a lot of work to stay alive after 80.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email