Healthy aging: the secrets for a long and healthy life

Aging, uncharted territory: life span is getting longer and aging in health becomes decisive. Stopping the aging process is impossible, but aging well is possible and even if the scientific community has not yet expressed itself in a shared definition of what healthy aging really is, there are many theories in this sense. To explain the phenomenon, we go from genetic causes to physiological ones, to psychological and social ones, which are able to explain the mechanisms that determine aging and its consequences, even if they are not sufficient to fully clarify the many unknowns.

Old age, a modern vision: for a long time aging, considered above all from a physical point of view, was a process to be stopped and hidden. Unable to avoid it, the aim was to counteract the onset of wrinkles and to pass the message that you are active only as long as you look young. But now the culture has changed and aging has become something to be proud of, aware that the passing of time leaves its mark, yes, but this makes us even more attractive. It is therefore not surprising that today we aim to promote the culture of self-care through a healthy lifestyle in which attention to nutrition and physical exercise are in the first place, essential for enjoying a long life energy must not be lacking.

Healthy aging, important goal: for the WHO the next decade will be fundamental to promote concrete actions aimed at improving the lives of the elderly and will involve scientific research, associations, the world of communication and civil society. There are many objectives: to fight prejudices about aging, to create sustainable cities for the elderly, to ensure adequate care where the health system places the individual at the center, rather than the patient. In any case, taking into account that the average life span has lengthened and the threshold beyond which a person is considered elderly has risen, growing old in health is still a goal that has yet to be achieved, because longevity is not always accompanied by good health.

Active aging, stay active: not only aging healthy, but staying active is also imperative. When we talk about activity we are not referring only to the mere physical dimension, but also to continuing to participate in the life of the community. According to the WHO, in fact, health, participation and safety are the three fundamental pillars for improving the quality of life of elderly people, capable of extending life; it is therefore necessary to ensure active aging to maintain functional skills and enjoy well-being in old age.

Five skills to age well: for healthy aging you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. To achieve the goals for the next few years, you need to focus on five skills that involve all older people: the ability to meet basic daily needs, continue learning and making decisions, move around your environment, build and maintain relationships, continue to engage in society. In addition to all this, it is essential to follow a correct diet, practice physical activity regularly, abolish smoking and avoid the consumption of alcohol, which is risky and harmful.

Pension, a new phase opens: quitting one’s job and leaving the world of work must be an opportunity for new life. The retirement period is when you can dedicate yourself to social commitment and self-care, cultivating hobbies and interests that keep us active and allow us to feel part of a community, in which inclusion is the word of ‘ order. Of course, in order to guarantee everyone a dignified life even in old age, it is necessary to invest in prevention: despite the challenges of disease and disability, aging with a good quality of life and satisfactory health is possible, as long as we continue with the interventions of prevention on lifestyles already started previously and, we repeat, keeping the body and mind active as much as possible.

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