We are truly living in unprecedented times. Over the last 100 years life expectancy has nearly doubled. This is the first time in history that four, and sometimes five, generations are alive at the same time. This had led to a lot of research about aging and there is some very good news for all of us who are 60 and over.
Chief among common misperceptions is that there is nothing we can do about aging and that old people are not happy. The truth is that recent studies have shown that there is a lot we can do, through diet and exercise, to slow the effects of aging. They indicate that “seniors” are happier and healthier than ever before. They also show that today’s elders are making significant contributions to society and often play an important role in the welfare of children.
There is no disputing that we are all living longer. One study indicated that in 1940 the risk of a man dying started around age of 59, at about 2.0%, and edged up every year thereafter. In 2022, however, that same risk is associated with a man aged 68. For women, the risks started at 65 and are now at age 73. So the exciting news is that, scientifically, 73 is the new 65!
In terms of one of the biggest fears, losing our memory, there is good news as well. Incidence of dementia is going down over time. Recent studies show this to be true, and they show a correlation to education level. The more you have learned, and continue to learn, the less likely it is that memory loss will affect you.
Perhaps the best news is that aging is not necessarily associated with depression, anxiety, fear or loneliness – even during the pandemic. This has been particularly true among people who plan ahead and remain an active member of their community. Community was variously defined as including a retirement center, a neighborhood or a smaller town like ours.
So we encourage you to eat well, exercise, keep learning and find a way to stay active and engaged in our Mill Valley community!