What is My Real Age? The Difference Between Chronological and Biological Age
Dr. Michael Roizen, former Chief Wellness Officer for the Cleveland Clinic and award-winning author, writes “90 is the new 40” in his latest book, The Great Age Reboot. While some scoff at his claims that with the right diet and exercise most older adults today have the potential to become super-centenarians living beyond age 120, you may wonder, could I live that long?
The reality is that innovative medical technology and procedures, scientific breakthrough cures and treatments, and increased consumer knowledge about healthier lifestyles have not closed the gap between lifespan and healthspan. Many older Americans will potentially live 20-30 bonus years beyond previous generations but many of those years will be spent managing chronic illness, joint pain, limited mobility and other physical and cognitive issues. According to an AARP survey, 20% of 75-year-olds today are living with three or more chronic conditions and 68% of those age 50+ report they believe they will require assistance with daily living and mobility over the next 10-30 years.
Despite the surge of organic farming in 1946 when the first baby boomers were born, the physical fitness craze that took off in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the debut of WebMD and other online health resources at our fingertips, and the modern wellness movement of holistic health, the boomer generation is less healthy than their parents and grandparents. A report from the American Hospital Association showed six in 10 boomers, currently between the ages of 58 and 76, have at least one chronic condition as a result of obesity, such as high cholesterol or heart disease. Another report in Health Affairs stated by 2030, 25% of the boomer generation will have diabetes making “diabesity” one of the biggest health issues facing older Americans and costing Medicare expenditures to skyrocket. We are living longer but not healthier.
In some ways, a return to the “old” ways of life – called the farmer’s life – may be the ticket to longer health and a longer life. Dan Buettner in his best-selling book series, The Blue Zones – Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who Have Lived the Longest, discovered the secrets to achieving centenarian status with most of the 100-year-olds he interviewed living in relatively good health. After traveling the globe, he found a Mediterranean-style diet full of olive oil, fresh fish and a little red wine; a sense of community and finding your “tribe;” doing basic daily chores and walking more than driving; having a foundation of spiritual calm, and spending more time outdoors away from technology are all part of the longevity recipe.
The recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who at 96 was reported to die of simply “old age,” may have had the best health care royalty could buy. But one has to wonder if her longevity was also related to her Greatest Generation’s attitude of “don’t complain, don’t explain” as well as the old British WWII adage, “Keep Calm and Carry On” that helped her live a long life free of a debilitating disease and cognitive decline.
The Keys To Living Longer, Better and Maybe to 100
What will turn the tide on healthspan equaling lifespan for the rest of us commoners? We know health status is split almost evenly between the genetic lottery ticket we are born with and 50% our lifestyle choices. We also know nutrition and exercise are only part of the living longer plan. Staying socially engaged (instead of the isolation that can accompany living at home), engaging in projects that provide passion and purpose, living in a community that embraces nature and what is known as “biophilic design” (the Greek word for love of nature and life), reducing stress and anxiety – these are all key ingredients to a longer, happier and healthier life.
To test this out, Dr. Roizen developed a free online tool called “The Real Age” Test which is now part of ShareCare, one of the largest online health and wellness sites. Since Dr. Roizen is a proponent of self-empowerment when it comes to health, The Real Age Test advises 70% of your health status is in your hands. And, despite what your driver’s license may say, your chronological age can be older or younger than your biological age depending on your lifestyle choices. Are you age 72 but have a biological age of 52, or are you 52 with a biological age of 72? The Real Age Test will tell you and offer ways to achieve being younger than what your birth certificate indicates. While The Real Age Test won’t tell you if you will live to 100, another test, The Life Expectancy – Living to 100 Calculator, does estimate your odds of making it into the centenarian club.
When it comes to aging well, let Kithward help you find your tribe, your community that supports your passion and purpose and your perfect place for living longer, healthier and happier.
About Sherri Snelling
Sherri Snelling is a gerontologist with an expertise in wellness and brain health across the life course. She is an author, podcast host, consultant and founder/CEO of Caregiving Club.
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