It’s a real crisis. Here are the top 5 things you can do to help yourself and the rest of the world — literally.
A few weeks ago, the National Institute of Aging, part of the NIH, in conjunction with the US Census Bureau, put out a report entitled, “An Aging World: 2015.” The report highlights demographic, health and socioeconomic trends accompanying the aging population. It turns out that the amount of people over the age of 65 is going to double in the next 30-35 years. The problem isn’t that people are getting older, the problem is that they’re not taking care of themselves like they need to in order to leave a better world for their children and grandchildren.
A few stats from the report:
America’s 65 and older population will go from 48 million to 88 million people over the next three decades!
The global population of what’s called the “Oldest Old,” people over 80, is expected to more than triple during the same time. The implications of this statistic are staggering!
The risk factors are NCDs or noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes. Most deaths from these NCDs are preventable with lifestyle changes including exercise and diet.
The opportunity is different than you might think:
On one hand this is a sign of great opportunity. We’ll need to take care of all these people. We’ll need to make sure their housing is set up. We’ll have to make sure they can get to where they need to be, such as the grocery store, doctors appointments, and the hospital. That doesn’t include leisure time, socializing, exercising (if they are), or family time.
I have two 2nd cousins who are 82 and 83 years young. They both spend multiple days each week at various doctor’s offices. One has survived a stroke, but still has rehabilitation, while the other has had knees surgery, rotator cuff surgery, eye surgery, and recently a torn calf muscle from an easy game of tennis. Meanwhile, just a few short years ago he was invited to the Senior Olympics in tennis. He was a great athlete, until he stopped working out because of injury, possibly induced by age. He has never been great at recovery or flexibility. I trust that he will get back out on the court, but it could be a long road back.
At the moment they two are fully capable people taking care of themselves, but will they be in 20 years? Probably not. 10 years? 5 years? I sure hope so.
On the other hand, while their is opportunity in setting up infrastructure and services for this tsunami of old folks, I see things a little differently. I want to lead the charge into the promise land! I was born in 1970, so in 2050 I’ll be turning 80. I’ll be one of those people who is part of that new found great population. I plan on arriving a bit different than my cousins and a bit different than most. I am going to continue exercising, eating right, doing yoga, meditating, and doing all the things necessary to keep myself as healthy as possible. And that means keeping my eyes and ears open to new technologies and new science. I’ve already had extensive blood work done which showed some genetic factors that made me slightly insulin resistant. I was able to see what was happening, shift my diet and reverse my insulin resistance with dietary changes.
Don’t be a sheep:
If you follow the masses, you’re going to get what they get. You’ll follow the same path that so many others have followed and slowly fade away. You’ll head to the hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, etc. My advice: swim upstream, quick! Take your well being into your own hands. I sure don’t want to wind up looking like Yoda while I can barely lift a finger, let alone go for a hike or a bike ride.
My plan is to ride a 100 mile bike ride when I’m 100 years old and I’m training for that ride now. There are plenty of people trying to maintain the status quo. They tell you to eat right, exercise, stop smoking, etc. etc. As the cliche goes, if you don’t move it, you loose it. You have to do that, but there is more. While we continue to learn more and more about how to live into our older years, we must have regular, cutting edge blood work. We need to get our genetic testing done to see if there is anything we can begin working on before it’s too late. I’m happy to help you on your way if you need. Find me on Twitter @teddymcdonald
Photo Credit: flickr.com/schnaars
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