Is there a formula for healthy ageing that I can help my 76-year-old widowed dad implement to keep him well longer?
Researchers recently identified four healthy lifestyle factors that could go a long way toward reducing your father’s risk of contracting common and life-threatening diseases. Those successful ageing practices are not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet.
Together, these four lifestyle attributes appear to be associated with as much as an 80 percent reduction in the risk of developing such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, according to a report in Archives of Internal Medicine.
The article explains that cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes-chronic diseases, which account for many deaths, are largely preventable. “An impressive body of research has implicated modifiable lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical activity, diet and body weight in the causes of these diseases,” the authors write.
After adjusting for age, sex, education level and occupation, individuals with more healthy lifestyle factors were less likely to develop chronic diseases. Participants who had all four healthy ageing factors at the beginning of the study had a 78 percent lower risk of developing any of the chronic diseases during the follow-up period than those who had none of the healthy factors.
Although it was not included in the study, companionship also is an important part of a senior’s healthy lifestyle. Since your father is alone, make sure that he has the kind of meaningful social interaction that will help him continue to live an independent and healthy life.
That means encouraging him to participate in activities outside the home. These could include things like a bridge club or active seniors group or even learning a new skill. Some secondary schools look for interested local seniors to come into the school to be trained on using the internet by transition year students. Your local library may be a source of useful information on clubs and associations in your area.
If he’s not able to get out and about so easily consider ways of bringing the companionship to him. Does he have a few friends who could come to the house regularly? Try and find something that will appeal to his existing interests. If he loves his garden, perhaps some members of the local gardening club could drop by?
Seniors who are alone, particularly those who need help with the activities of daily living, are at risk of developing unhealthy lifestyle habits without this important support.
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