How to Grow Old Without Getting Sick
Many people believe that growing old goes hand in hand with frequent trips to the doctor, along with a gradual loss of memory and the ability to learn new things. They’re afraid of aging because they think they’ll become a burden on society.
Is this a fair generalization?
From a statistical standpoint, getting older does increase your risk of chronic disease, including those associated with cognitive decline, such as dementia. Even doctors themselves are aging. They’re no more or less likely to get sick than you or I. The truth is, we’re an aging population.
Does this mean we’re all going senile?
To answer this, let’s consider the concept of successful aging. Successful aging is defined as growing old whilst maintaining all 3 of the following:
- A low risk of disease and disability
- A high level of physical and cognitive function
- Active participation in life
Take two individuals of the same age, gender, marital status, living arrangement, religion, education, and economic status. Why does one suffer from chronic disease (e.g. arthritis and thinning bones) and not the other? In other words, why do some people age “successfully” and some “unsuccessfully”?
From a statistical standpoint, getting older does increase your risk of chronic disease.
So, what determines who ages successfully and who doesn’t?
Research suggests that people who age successfully are not only less stressed; they’re also more resilient to disease.
If you’re married or have a spouse after remarriage, you’re more likely to age successfully. That is, your risk of disease is lower, and you’re able to think clearer and enjoy daily life more. Why? Because family support appears to boost resilience to disease.
Ultimately, it’s your resilience – your ability to cope better under stressful circumstances – that allows your body to adapt in the face of adversity. It’s this adaptation to your environment that’s crucial when it comes to preserving your physical and mental health as you age.
In that case, how do you age successfully?
As a woman, your mental health is likely to be your biggest limitation to successful aging. You need to put as much emphasis on psychological interventions (e.g. working with a coach, therapist, or other trained professional), as you do on physical interventions (e.g. seeing your doctor).
You don’t just want to add years to your life. You also want to add life to your years.
In the end, your resilience to aging comes down to your self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, optimism, and ability to face up to problems and overcome difficulties. If you want to live a long, happy, healthy life, you must prioritize your mental health as you do your physical health.
Meet Sophie Ash
Sophie Ash BSc (Hons) is a Nutritional Consultant, Research Analyst, Writer, and founder of ‘Feeling Fabulous Over 40’. As a Functional Medicine Practitioner trained in London UK, Sophie helps women with a lot “on their plate” identify the root cause of their symptoms, through analyzing their diet, lifestyle, medical history, and genetics.
You can reach her at: