Aging 101: choices affect our future health

Aging. We all do it. And we all do it differently.

Aging. We all do it. And we all do it differently.

Let’s start with the very basics — you can spell it ‘aging’, or ‘ageing’ —  either way it’s something you’re doing right this second. Every single reaction going off in every single cell in your body every micro second makes you a little wee bit older. Every single time you put food or beverage in your mouth, or every time you choose to be active or not, you’re making a choice about how you want to age.

Let’s look at the three major components of intelligent aging. They are health, planning, and engagement.

Health

Every single decision about what you do or don’t put into your body says something about how you’ve chosen to age. Typically, unhealthy food choices, alcohol intake, or lack of fibre intake, quality vitamins, omega-3 oils — these are all things that impact your health greatly. Our body is actually quite forgiving, but over years — even five years — it starts to compound like interest. At three meals a day, over five years, that is 5,500 times you ingested healthy food to nourish your cells — or 5,500 times you ate for momentary satisfaction and neglected your cells, the building blocks of life.

And as it pertains to physical activity, each day that you are not active is a day that your joint fluids and soft tissues did not get a flush through your system. It’s literally like not flushing.

Finally, stress is such a burden on our health, and such an imposed part of our society, that one must learn how to control their own stress levels. Breathing exercises, walking in nature, gardening, yoga, meditation — these are all growing in popularity.

Planning

Planning ahead means taking some time out to plan for finances, future health wishes, appointing legal representatives (e.g. Power of Attorney), etc. Having the important discussions with your financial and legal representatives, as well as your doctor is aging intelligently.

Engagement

Perhaps the most important component as we age is engagement. Being engaged in life leads to more health and happiness. The landmark Harvard Grant Study has taught us that our close meaningful relationships (or the lack thereof) are the single greatest variable in our happiness levels. Being engaged in life means we have close personal relationships and friendships with people that add value to our lives. It also means we seek more knowledge. We seek to be entertained and interested in things. All these things feed our spirit and slowdown our aging.

Whether you are in your 20s or 30s and think that 60 is old, or if you’re in your 60s and you think that 80 is old, or even if you’re in your 80s and think that 100 is old — these principles still apply. What you do today is your choice for how you want to age. Age intelligently.

» Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island.  For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home caring consult call 250-748-4357, or email Cowichan@NurseNextDoor.com