A Recipe For Ageing Better

7th October 2011

It’s never too early, or too late, to improve later life says Age UK

With genes thought to make only a 25% contribution to the length of life, and factors such as lifestyle and nutrition influencing the remaining 75%, following Age UK’s new ‘recipe’ can really make a difference to how we grow old.

Much advice currently available targets specific diseases, conditions or age groups, but these tips – released as part of the Age UK ‘Ageing Better Together’ campaign – are designed to be useful and practical for everyone to follow at all stages of life. You could even argue that it’s the young that should be taking the most notice…

Professor Ian Philp, Medical Director at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, and one of the experts who helped develop the tips, explains: “We really can influence how we age and the top tips are a great guide to ageing better. For example, it may seem obvious but… regular health check-ups are really important for keeping healthy in later life. And getting early diagnosis of an illness, taking advantage of screening programmes and being up to date with vaccines are all crucial to keeping healthy, whatever age you are, so don’t be afraid to bother your GP!”

Some of these tips – taking exercise and a healthy diet, for example – are already well-known (so well-known, in fact, that grandmothers and sucking eggs come to mind) but the list also has advice about engaging socially with other people, say, and remaining positive about ageing – both of which are key to a happy, successful later life. You might think that fighting the very idea of ageing would help keep you young, but, counter-intuitively, some research has shown that staying positive about getting older can actually increase life expectancy.

Age UK celebrity ambassador and fitness guru Rosemary Conley endorses this view. “The older I get, the more convinced I am that age is just a number. Through eating well, exercising regularly and having a positive outlook I feel as young as ever. Everyone faces different challenges with age, and general health and fitness differs from person to person. However, I really believe that to a great extent you’re in charge of your own destiny and that if you look after yourself – and, of course, follow Age UK’s top tips – you will give yourself a great chance of ageing well.”

Professor James Goodwin, Age UK ‘s Head of Research, observes that the number of people aged 60 or over is expected to pass 20 million by 2031. That’s a lot of people, and better health for everyone will be better for all of us. The new campaign is focused not just on living longer, but on living healthily and happily for longer.

“Individually, these tips are important, but together they give each of us the best chance of ageing better,” adds Professor Goodwin. “We are aiming to show that the message is clear: whether you are 25 or 85, you can have a positive impact on your life as you grow older.”

• Take regular exercise
• Engage socially with others
• Have a positive attitude about ageing
• Eat a healthy diet
• Protect your eyes
• Don’t smoke
• Get regular health check-ups
• Avoid excessive sun exposure
• Get sufficient, good-quality sleep
• Pay attention to your pension, and get expert financial advice

Age UK produces a range of guides with advice on a variety of topics, including how people can act on the top tips and improve later life. The guides cover everything from staying steady on your feet and living healthily to planning your pension and managing your money. To see the full range of guides available visit www.ageuk.org.uk/ageingbettertogether or call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65. The tips come from leading experts, many of whom Age UK works with through the Charity's centre of knowledge into ageing. Age UK is the only charity which exclusively funds consumer, social and applied research on ageing, including age-related conditions such as dementia, incontinence and osteoporosis.

For more info see www.ageuk.org.uk

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