The mental and physical decline that accompanies the aging process is it inevitable? Or is it a result of cultural influences and how we live?
Gerontologist John W. Rowe, MD, believes, as do many other experts, that 70 percent of the aging process is controllable with wise lifestyle choices. The remaining 30% is the result of heredity.
I agree with Dr. Rowe, but I believe he is conservative in his estimation. Based on my own personal experience, I am convinced that the amount of power you have to control how you age is 80 percent or better. We often unfairly blame ancestors for health issues when our own thinking and behaviors are responsible.
If you think about it, 70-80 percent is a staggering amount of power to wield over how well you age. If you are a boomer or younger, that means that if you learn to create and live an anti-aging lifestyle, you can stay the age you are now (mentally and physically) for at least another 25 years.
Once you adopt an anti-aging lifestyle, management of aging gets easier and having youthful attributes for another 25 years becomes 30-35 more years. We are living longer so the more years we have to live a vibrant, healthy lifestyle, the happier we will be.
Why do so many lose or not use their anti-aging power? Four main reasons:
Neglect low self-esteem — “I’m not worth caring about.”
Willful abuse a lifetime of excessive processed food, alcohol, lack of sleep, exercise, and water.
Belief that you will age like everyone else there is nothing you can do to change things.
Most people just don’t realize how much power they have. No one has ever told them the extent to which they can hold the reins of their physical and mental aging.
Our culture encourages thinking “outside the box.” But when it comes to aging and management of the aging process, we are mired in an “earth is flat” mentality. For example, we still refer to age 65 as elderly.
A profitable and thriving “old folks” economy fuels the “age 65 is elderly” myth. Take, for instance, the “senior” housing industry. It prospers on contrived “needs” of so-called “active seniors.” (Advertising designates “active seniors” as 50 plus. When you are 50 plus, you are not a senior. Don’t allow yourself to be stuffed into that old box!).
When “active seniors” are segregated into one place, old thinking and behaviors proliferate quickly, in spite of amenities that promote an active lifestyle. Older people rely on each other for emotional support, and that includes adopting each other’s thinking and behaviors.
Like perfectly programmed robots we march into old age, fully accepting consensus thinking, archaic tradition, and contemporary cultural norms. It’s not necessarily bad it’s the uncritical acceptance of “this is the way it should be” that seals our fate into premature decline.
At age 65 too many of us do wake up one day and find ourselves in decline and debilitation. We wonder how it happened. The reasons are so obvious we never saw them coming:
We didn’t think about and plan for the future while we were still young old age was too far off and we had “more important things to think about today”.
We knew what we should and could do to slow decline but again, we had “more important things to do today”.
We knew we should exercise every single day but there were “more important things to do today”.
It’s our own personal “Today Show” that determines whether or not we will join the ranks of the premature elderly.
Be the star and producer of your own anti-aging “Today Show” right now. Choose thinking and behaviors that will prolong the active, healthy lifestyle you have right now or want to have. Think critically about how contemporary cultural norms and lifestyles will affect your future and avoid those things that will lead to premature decline.
Remember, at least 70 percent of how well you age is in your hands. Plan right now to use that power wisely.