Specialist shares healthy aging tips

The world’s fastest growing age group is over the age of 80, according to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Census Bureau, and geriatric medicine specialist Stephen Jones has plenty of tips not only to help extend life but also to remain healthy and enjoy those years.

Americans are not only living longer, but they are doing so in massive numbers. Each day more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. Baby boomers are now becoming “geri-boomers,” a term coined by Dr. Jones, a board-certified geriatric medicine specialist and director of the Center for Healthy Aging at Greenwich Hospital.

Dr. Jones points out that when the U.S. government conducted its first census report in 1790, half of the American population was under the age of 16. Less than 2% of the population was 65 or older. In 1900 the average life span was only 47; today it is approaching 80. In 2012 the number of Americans living to age 100 tipped to 100,000 and by 2050 is expected to jump to 800,000.

While medical technology helps people survive acute illnesses and conditions like pneumonia and heart attacks, the chronic conditions such as arthritis and dementia often compromise quality of life for people living longer. As the trend continues and the costs of healthcare escalate, it will be families who care for their aging relatives. In fact, according to Dr. Jones, adults are spending more years caring for an aging parent than for their children. Aging well and staying healthy is of paramount concern for today’s adults. Lifestyle choices become lifetime habits that have a tremendous impact on a person’s future health.

“One of the big things that ages people is stress or the lack of control of stress,” Dr. Jones said. This includes your outlook on life or how you see the world. Dr. Jones asked, “When you’re stuck in traffic do you see red, or do you accept what you can’t change and try and make the best of the time?” According to Dr. Jones, the one thing you always have control over in life is your attitude.

With the reality that it’s realistic to live to 100, Dr. Jones shared tips on healthy aging, including controlling stress by maintaining a positive attitude and sense of self-worth; keeping a sense of humor; avoiding smoking; controlling blood pressure and ensuring that you receive regular medical checkups; maintaining good nutrition and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night.

Other tips included staying physically active, exercising your brain, maintaining companionship and living in the moment by treating each day as a gift.

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