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Longevity To-Dos for Your 70s

Add Years to Your Life

By

Updated October 31, 2007

People's health in their 70s varies a lot. Some people are completely healthy and others have multiple illnesses. No matter what your condition, there is a lot you can do to improve your health, prevent illnesses and keep your brain sharp. Here is a list of longevity To-Dos that will have you feeling better now and living longer. Pick one or two a month and make some progress.

1. Live With Purpose

One of the things in common about the world's longest-lived people is that they have a strong sense of purpose as they grow older. Much of this is because of the role of elders in traditional culture. Unlike the U.S., older people are respected and looked up to for wisdom and advice. We have a challenge in this regard. Your job is to find a way to feel a strong sense of purpose in your life, despite the messages our culture send about aging. Religion, family, volunteering and more can help you feel connected and needed.

2. Keep Healthy Sleep Habits

There is a myth that older people need less sleep. This is simply not true. Older people need the same amount of sleep as young adults: 7-9 hours a night. The challenge is that health conditions, medications and poor habits make it difficult for older people to get the sleep they need. Take time in your 70s to make your sleep habits a priority. Avoid strange hours, long naps and watching TV in bed. Be sure to get out in the daylight every day, and exercise to get your body moving. With good sleep habits, you should be able to get enough sleep and have plenty of energy throughout your day.

3. Avoid Falls

Falls are a common source of injuries and disabilities as we age. Be sure to be on top of fall prevention. Make a habit of using handrails and start a program to keep your balance skills sharp. Take time to assess the fall risks in your house. Be sure that all your stairs are clearly visible, all your railings are firmly attached and that you avoid any risky behavior (especially getting in and out of the bath tub). Take falls seriously.

4. Engage Your Brain

Your brain needs exercise. It thrives on puzzles, new experiences and making connections. Don't let your brain go on retirement. Be sure that you find things that interest you, that make you curious and that challenge your brain. You can start with puzzles (crosswords and Sudoku) and then move to even more challenging things (like learning a new language or reading about a science topic). Once something becomes routine and the sense of discovery wears off, you should move to something new.

5. Exercise to Feel Great and Live Long

Exercise doesn't only help keep the weight off and build muscle -- it can also help you feel great and live longer. Your body is built to be active. Be sure that it gets moving every day. Going for walks, joining group exercise classes and other activities can keep you healthy, energized and even sleeping better. Give your body what it wants: exercise.

6. Love Aging

Your attitude toward aging could help you live longer. Researchers studied over 600 people and found that people with a positive attitude toward aging lived up to 7.5 years longer than the negative agers. What did these people find good about aging? Control of time, relaxation, wisdom, spiritual growth and more. What do you find good about aging? Answering that question could help you live longer and healthier.

7. Add 2 for Good Health

It's simple: the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the healthier you are. Focus on that for your eating plans: more fruits and vegetables. Study after study shows the cholesterol-reducing, cancer-fighting benefits of eating plants. Add 2 servings of fruits and vegetables to your day (add an apple and double your portions at dinner).

8. Understand Your Health

Research shows that not understanding your medications and medical care can lead to an increase in your risk of death -- an increase of 52% over a 6-year period. Be sure to fully understand how and when to take your medications (and with what). Also, be sure you know when your appointments are, what tests need to be done and more. When in doubt, always ask questions. Keep a calendar with everything written down. It is also a good idea to bring a family member or friend to your appointments to help you listen, understand and ask questions.

9. Maintain Your Energy

The more you do, the longer you will live -- that is the finding of researchers who examined the energy expenditure of over 300 70-year-olds. They found that the people who expended the most energy during their daily activities were 32% less likely to die over a 6-year period. Be sure that you keep busy and active; you'll feel better and just might live longer.

10. Healthy Sex Life

About 50% of 70 years olds are sexually active -- and this number is rising. Sex is a part of life and a part of health. Maintaining a healthy sex life benefits you emotionally, physically, socially and more. Sex in your 70s is different (but no less rewarding) than sex at other ages. The culture of aging is changing -- more and more 70-year-olds are becoming open about their sex lives and seeking help when needed.

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