Many of us fear life will no longer be worth living if we make it to old age. We worry that frailty and disease will rob us of the ability to care for ourselves and do the things we enjoy.
Stop fretting, say researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Most people who make it past 90 have no more disease than those at 65, they found.1
Dr. Anne Newman is director of the Center for Aging at the University of Pittsburgh. She reviewed the surprising findings.
“A lot of concern is that, well, if you live a long time, you’re just going to be bedridden,” Dr. Newman said. “And what they’re showing is that’s not true. The people who are living longer are living healthier.”
The researchers tracked participants’ ages at the onset of cancer, cardiovascular disease diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and stroke.
They found that the trick is to make it to 90. Once you do that, it’s likely you will be relatively healthy.
Dr. Sofiya Milman is assistant professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College. She is a co-author of the study. “Chronic disease is not an inevitable part of aging,” she said. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published the findings.
Once people make it to this age, researchers found no difference in their rate of disease, disabilities, or a limited lifestyle compared to those younger than them.2
However, when people over 90 did get sick, they had shorter periods of illness before death than the younger group.
Tricks to Get to 90
There’s no doubt good genes are a big factor in longevity. And there are well-known ways to increase lifespan, such as not smoking and getting exercise. But researchers have found other surprising and simple strategies to reach old age:
- Cook at home. A study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that people over 65 who cook at home five times per week or more are 47% more likely to be alive after a decade.3
- Shop until you drop. A Taiwanese study of people over 65 found that daily shopping lowers the risk of dying by over 23%. You benefit even if you merely window shop and don’t buy anything, researchers found.
- Stay positive. A study of 660 Americans ages 50 to 94 found those with positive attitudes about getting older lived more than seven years longer than those who had negative attitudes.4
- Get a pet. The American Heart Association advises that pets reduce heart risk. And a study of 5,200 adults found that dog owners are 54% more likely to get daily exercise than non-dog owners.5
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In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch