The Keys to Healthy Living: Friendship and Purpose: Changes in lifestyle and outlook can affect longevity.
By Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO AARP
I found this article in the recent issue of AARP Bulletin and I thought it was very important to you readers. Please really think about this article and your loved ones.
As we think about the prospect of the living longer, millions of us are taking more responsibility for our own health. We’ re realizing that the choices we make each day are more important than an occasional visit to the doctor’s office.
As a result, we’re seeking more and better information to help us make healthier decisions and tools for lifestyle changes that lead us toward physical and mental fitness and enhance our well-being, not just treat our ailments.
But we also need to focus on things like building strong social connections and reducing loneliness and social isolation, realizing a sense of purpose and developing a more positive, optimistic outlook on aging.
Social connections are important to your health. People with close friends are more likely to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, maintain peace of mind and have less stress, engage in brain health activities and take on new challenges or hobbies.
Loneliness is the new smoking-according to one researcher, it is equally as bad for you as inhaling 15 cigarettes a day. Studies show that loneliness can shave eight years off life expectancy, that it has a big negative effect on quality of life and that it’s the single largest predictor of dissatisfaction with health care. The morality risk for loneliness is greater than that of obesity. Social isolation of older adults is associated with an estimated $6.7 billion in additional Medicare spending annually.
Social isolation has become such a problem in Great Britan that Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a ‘minister of loneliness’ to measure it, determine its impact and develop a strategy to address it. Here in the United States, CareMore, based in California, became the first U.S. health care provider group to hire a “chief togetherness officer” to directly address loneliness and its impact on health.
Having a purpose in life is also important to health as we get older and is a key factor in aging successfully. A sense of purpose for many is more important than making money and it’s associated with a wide range of better health outcomes including reduced risk of mortality, stroke, heart attack and Alzheimer’s disease. People with a sense of purpose also get better sleep, have few nights of hospital admission and go to the doctor less often. And they are more likely to take care of their health-to eat healthy, exercise more, avoid abusing drugs and alcohol and seek out better preventative health services.
Evidence also show that optimism about aging had an impact on our health, adding 7.5 years to our lives. Those with an upbeat view of aging are more likely to fully recover from a severe disability, have a larger hippocampus (a part of the brain that affects memory) show less anatomical evidence of Alzheimer’s on an MRI and have up to an 80 percent lower risk of a cardiovascular event.
We’re discovering that changes in lifestyle and medical advances can increase our life-span and shrink the number of years spent with a disability. But it’s also vital that we have something to get us up in the morning and someone to share our lives with- and that we approach each day with a smile.
Disclaimer: This article was taken from the June 2018 AARP Bulletin by CEO Jo Ann Jenkins and I give her full credit on this article. I think it is important to share this with everyone as we all need someone!