One of the positive benefits of reading as much as I do to keep up with aging in place trends, is that I am introduced to a word that adds to my belief that a new version of old age is upon us. In reading reviews of The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer, the book by Elissa Epel and Nobel prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, published in January 2017, I was introduced to a new word – healthspan. She describes/explores how the way we live influences our healthspan, the length of time we live healthy and active lives. Medical science is expanding lifespans by the numbers but it is the active independent part that most of us want to enhance as much as possible.
I guess this is a variation of an old expression, it is the life in your years that really counts. Most of it comes down to stress on our chromosomes. Sadly caring for others shortens our own cellular resistance on a DNA level. You can goggle stress and aging and come up with a dozen scholarly articles that point to a direct subtraction for what we may be adding to another life.
Another term I learned in the last year is compressed morbidity, it is more a medical term means basically you age well, then have a short time before you kick off. That is opposed to years of slow deterioration and dependency on others. There is no direct formula for that besides just keep doing what you are doing to stay healthy until your life span ( healthspan?) hits its drop off point.
There is nothing new in the Blackburn book in terms of what helps you expand your health span. It is the same mantra, “At an increasing pace, studies are appearing to demonstrate that exercising regularly, eating nutritious foods, getting ample sleep, managing stress and engaging in positive social interactions all support telomere maintenance and therefore contribute positively to healthspan.” The formula is simple but demanding of your time and attention. You can repeat it multiple times but do people make calculated changes to their lifestyle? Traveling to foreign countries, having pets, doing year round prep to keep a garden are valuable things. Maybe it is time to realize what adds and subtracts to your own stress level.
I do not want this blog to be all about giving up things that give you joy. We all are making our own formula towards what our final years will be like. Maybe a healthy balance of what gives you a happy life is actually a simpler life. As my mother once told me, sometimes you need to know what to give up to hold on to what really counts.
Read about Dr Blackburn’s accomplishments: see Next Avenue :http://www.nextavenue.org/elizabeth-blackburn-influencer-year/