Secrets to living long and loving it

How do you feel about that? Does the idea fill you with hope or dread? Well, once you’ve got over the shock, it does raise some important questions.

The little book called Happy to 102 – The Best Kept Secrets to a Long and Happy Life, offers some answers.
For starters, changing the “end date” of your life gives you a different way of seeing things. A 72-year-old expecting to die at 75 spends time putting affairs in order. A 72-year-old expecting to live until 102 will be making plans.  

This research-based book challenges you to set your use-by date a long way into the future and take care of yourself, so you can get there.

In the past, Western societies have managed aging by channelling people into low cost senior warehousing. But with flexible home care, we have other options.  The new mantra for aging is “live long and live well”.  And the key to doing this is staying in your own home with increasing support as you age.

For healthy aging, it’s better to bring in the help you need to stay at home. Often, you have a lifetime of routines and memories that support your wellbeing. But here’s the challenge.

You may need to give up a little independence and accept help in a few areas. This assistance falls into four broad categories.  

The first is home safety.  A home assessment and some modifications such as ramps, handrails and improved lighting can reduce risks.  This may seem like loss of independence at first, but preventing falls is crucial. In seniors over 85, falls are the leading killer with 1 in 5 resulting in death.

It’s also important to stay active. Daily exercise will assist your balance and help maintain your bone density.
Next is nutrition. Researchers have learnt much from the people of Okinawa in Japan. Their diet is high-fibre, rich with vegetables and only has 20 per cent animal protein. These islanders are renowned for long and healthy lives.

Another feature of the Okinawa diet is eating until you are only 80 per cent full. This puts less strain on your body. Living at home does not mean compromising your diet. You can get support with meal planning and food preparation with a flexible home care package. You can also access specialist advice from nutritionists and dieticians.

The third is good transport. If you give up driving, your social world can shrink overnight. No-one likes to rely on favours, so it’s important to find out what transport help is available. Home care agencies can arrange transport to appointments and to social occasions.

Finally, successful aging requires having a social life.  To qutoe my little book, “humans share a basic, perhaps even biological, need for social connectedness and a sense of belonging”.
Research shows that activities that combine socialising and a mental challenge, such as card games, are more effective in holding off dementia than mental stimulation alone.

To sum up, you can live well at home even as you become frail. It’s a matter of organising the right help for your needs.

This isn’t just about daily care such as showers. With good planning you can also have help from physiotherapists, nutritionists and other professionals without leaving your beloved home.

 Kendall Morton is Director of Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast. Call 5491 6888 or email  
kmorton@homecareassistance.com