Why do people on internet dating sites “misunderestimate” their age? Clearly some people find advancing years so unattractive that they’re prepared to start a new relationship on the basis of a big fat lie. How bizarre (and I'm not guilty, by the way)!
We can’t stop the passage of time and aren’t we, in the words of the fabulous Kylie (now a mature lady herself), “lucky, lucky lucky” to have made it into later life at all? Being young is overrated, IMHO. Teenagers of today have a complex landscape of gender and sexuality to negotiate, not to mention the risk of their most embarrassing moments ending up on social media. Twenty and 30-somethings are frantically juggling careers and domestic commitments; but later life brings with it the benefits of self-knowledge and an understanding of what is important in our lives.
Having survived heartbreak, bereavement and financial insecurity, we emerge like the proverbial phoenix, with wisdom, strength and resilience. Those whose children fledged and flown have an opportunity to reinvent themselves by relocating, starting new careers, relationships or hobbies, their “empty nest” transformed into a launch pad for adventure. One reason, perhaps why levels of happiness have been shown to rise from their lowest point in our 40s, continuing to climb well into our 60s - statistically the happiest decade of our lives. So if you’re experiencing a midlife low, keep calm and carry on. The only way is up!
The general assumption that ageing necessarily leads to poor health and unhappiness is simply not true. Indeed, with the right approach, we can enjoy some of our best years in later life. In her excellent book, “Age Proof”, Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Consultant Geriatrician, reveals the secrets of successful ageing, based of findings of TILDA, the largest adult population study of ageing adults in Ireland and those from studies of “Blue Zone” populations, five geographically disparate regions with the highest proportions of citizens aged 100 or more.
Secrets To Successful Ageing
1. Nutrition. The “Mediterranean” diet is a common feature. Predominantly plant based with minimal meat, fish, eggs and dairy with little or no processing. Beans and fermented foods, such as yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi are daily staples; water is the preferred beverage, with tea, coffee and wine consumed in moderation.
2. Activity. The daily lives of Blue Zone residents involve significant physical exertion. If exercise is not currently part of your daily routine, you haven’t missed the boat. Ernestine Shepherd (resident of non-Blue Zone Baltimore) started aged 56 but went on to win a body building competition at 71 and continues to inspire at the tender age of 86, advocating that age is just a number. One look at her and it’s hard to disagree.
3. Community. Having friends and loved ones close by and involvement in sociable hobbies or voluntary work were also positive influences on longevity and life satisfaction. Conversely a Harvard study spanning more than 80 years found that loneliness was as damaging as smoking or alcoholism on life expectancy.
4. Positivity. Our genes are not fixed at birth as previously believed; an optimistic approach to life, in combination with good nutrition and exercise has been proven to slow down biological ageing as a result of Epigenetics, a phenomenon where various genes can be switched on or off as a result of environment and behaviour. Another reason to be cheerful!
5. Intimacy. Many of Prof Kenny’s subjects enjoyed a fulfilling sex life well into their 70s. Being physically fit and avoidance of smoking helps to keep those fires burning. And whilst our bodies’ own hormone production may wane, replacement therapy is at hand, where appropriate. And of course there’s always Viagra...
I am enjoying being the right side of 50 (53, in fact) and encourage those of similar vintage, or approaching it, to join us at Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester, at 7pm on Thursday October 26 Wellbeing for Wise Women. Her, Consultant Dermatologist Dr Sajjad Rajpar, Women’s Health Specialist Dr Vicky Hobbs, Women’s Health Physiotherapist Leila Holmes will be joining me to talk nutrition, skincare and menopause, and answering your questions. We'll provide the information you need to make the next phase of your life the best yet!
See you there!