Lifestyle vs. Genetics
Aging Well is (Almost) All Up to You
There is perhaps no more universal human experience than aging. We all experience it, from the day we are born onward. You have likely heard that genetics determines how long you will live. You may have conversely heard that healthy habits alone can make up for genetics. The truth lies somewhere in between: research suggests that both lifestyle and genetics influence aging. The good news is that how you age is mostly all up to you!
Components of Healthy Aging
Physical well-being is a key component of healthy aging. That is why organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend regular exercise at every age, as physical activity can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that can impact the aging process and overall longevity. Those who have higher levels of aerobic fitness, for example, have a higher chance of living longer than people who do not, according to various studies over the past 40 years. Eating well can also boost physical health and promote longer lifespans.
Emotional & Mental Health
Mental health can influence your physical health, and vice versa, making your mental and emotional health an important part of your overall health. Experiencing depression, for example, can increase the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes or emergency events like stroke. And social isolation—which older adults are prone to—can significantly increase the odds of developing dementia. All of these conditions can negatively impact longevity and quality of life; building a strong social network and staying connected to others may therefore help people age better.
Where someone lives can significantly impact overall health and lifespan. Specifically, research shows that environmental factors like the following can all contribute to a longer lifespan:
- Living in areas that facilitate exercise, such as walkable cities or towns with dedicated cycling lanes;
- Implementing climate change-mitigation strategies and infrastructure,
- Living in areas with easy access to healthy, affordable foods; and
- Living in areas with little to no pollution.
Genetics & Family History
According to some studies, roughly a quarter of variation in human lifespan is attributable to genetics. That means that genetic factors play a large role in determining how long someone can live and how well they age... but that also means that the vast majority—roughly 75%—of the variation in the aging process is not due to genetic factors. That means that your personal habits and your environment play much larger roles in determining how long you can live and how well you can age.
Healthy Habits to Help You Age Well
Regular exercise - Health benefits of regular physical activity include lower risk of serious conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure as well as boosting mental health and self-esteem.
Regular checkups - Regular checkups and screenings can help you catch health problems earlier rather than later. The sooner you catch an issue, the easier it is to treat!
Minding your mental health - Finding ways to calm and center yourself can go a long way towards helping you live a happier, healthier life. What that looks like can vary. For some people, it’s going on a walk or reading a good book. For others, it’s going to therapy and counseling.
Healthy eating - Your diet can significantly influence how long you live and how well you age. High-quality foods like whole grains and leafy greens can all be part of a healthy diet that you can enjoy for years to come.
Taking the right medications - If you have a chronic condition or are at risk for one, talk to your health care provider about which medications may be right for you. They can lower your risk of experiencing complications.
Taking supplements - Talk with your health care provider to see which supplements, if any, may be right for you, like vitamin D or calcium.
Staying up to date on immunizations - Getting relevant vaccines is perhaps the easiest way for older people to strengthen their immune systems and reduce the risk of serious illness.
Aging Well at Monarch Communities®
It’s never too late to start improving your quality of life! And we can help you do just that. Everything in our communities—from the physical layout to the services and programs we offer—is designed to promote healthy aging, well-being for both staff and residents, and human connections.
Mindfulness programming - We plan thoughtful activities to stimulate both the mind and body as well as foster the cultivation of old skills and new skills alike.
Physical activity - Our fitness center offers tai chi classes and more to our residents, so they can exercise in groups. Residents can also enjoy solo activities like gardening outside or walking along a secure outdoor walkway.
Peace of mind - Leave the stress of household chores behind when you choose Monarch. Our staff members handle mundane tasks like chores and are always looking out for residents, so care is always available when it’s needed.
Socialization - With open spaces to connect and plenty of regular social activities on our event calendar, it’s easy for residents to make new friends with other residents and our staff members; regular and meaningful human connections are at the heart of everything we do.
Enhanced safety measures - Our outdoor areas and memory care halls are secure to protect our residents. Our minimalist design also reduces the risk of falling and creates a more serene environment for residents living with dementia.
24/7 caregiving - Our staff members are trained to spot warning signs of serious health problems, such as cognitive decline and memory loss that could signal the onset of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. This way, residents can get care right away, before their condition progresses.
WELL certification - WELL certified buildings mean better air quality, lighting that promotes healthy sleep, and much, much more.
Connection to nature - Access to outdoor spaces and bringing nature into our buildings improve mental well-being for residents, staff, and visiting family members.