I recently watched a documentary on ITV called ‘The Secrets of Growing Old’.

It was a positive look at the many benefits of being older as well as some age defining insights into what ages us and how we can redefine our age. Using some inspirational older people the program highlighted the fact that what we think of old is changing.
It started by highlighting the fact that 1 in 50 of us will live to be 100 (and I would like to be one of those ones!), the older we get the more we can do and that 80 is the new 60.

Science has now proven that we are as young as we feel, so how we view growing older and how we see ourselves as we get older will determine our lifestyle.

Two of the many stars of this show:

Kennedy, age 87 – doesn’t notice getting older like this. With sharp clothes, amazing teeth and a silky voice to match his cheeky smile he still loves to look good and is still very focused on gaining the attention of women (which he does on a regular basis).

Dilys, age 83 – decided to prove that you can be as young as you feel by taking up sky diving in her 50’s. She has now jumped out of a plane over 11,000 times.

Age is not just down to our genes. Research has found 80% of the way we age is down to how we choose to live our lives.

Through exercise it is possible to remain young on the inside and extend our biological age. Warwick’s chronological age may be 80 but thanks to exercise he has the biological body of a 69 year old. 71 year old Liz has a 59 year old body and Charles, age 96 is a weight lifter who has the body of a 66 year old.

Body builder Charles, age 96

Unfit in middle-age (like so many of us) Charles went to see his Doctor who advised exercise. He had large varicose veins that we hated the look of and through regular exercise he managed to get rid of those as well as get healthy.

He works out three times a week and his routine has made him strong.

Most of us lose 1-2% of muscle strength each year after the age of 50 because of physical inactivity but that doesn’t have to happen. Science has discovered that weight training can strengthen our bones and increase flexibility in our joints whatever our age, which is great news.

Frances Dunscombe was featured as a woman who found modelling later in life. Insecure and full of fear in her younger years she avoided her dream of becoming a model. Now she models luxury brands and loves who she has become, gray hair and all.

Researchers have found that over the age of 50 most of us become more comfortable with who we are and what we look like and that wasn’t the only big plus of being older:

  • We can be more open and more childish
  • Over the age of 50 most of us become more comfortable with who we are
  • We tell less lies and are more trustworthy
  • We manage our emotions better
  • Learn to show people that we love them and have an increased capacity to love
  • Worry less about what people think
  • Have the potential to be as happy as we have ever been
  • We become remarkable at resolving conflict

People imagine age limits what they can do physically – it doesn’t. George Kerr, age 78 – 10th Judo Dan

Julie Kertesz, age 81 is a stand up comedian. She was used as an example of how, as we get older, we are able to use our life experiences in different ways.

Age and Skin

Collagen is what keeps our skin young and as we age (depending on skin colour) a reduction in collagen is what causes wrinkles and sagging skin making us look older. Our cells are still producing new skin cells but the lack of collagen deteriorates and skin shrivels.

  • Black skin contains melanin which is a pigment contained within skin cells that protects from the sun. It is natures own sun screen that delays the onest of wrinkles. That means the effects of the sun doesn’t cause our skin to wrinkle in the same way it does our white counterparts.
  • Asain skin also has melanin but to a lesser degree. Wrinkles and changes in the skin happens later in life from the age of 50
  • White skin has five times less protection than black skin and so ends up with the greatest number of wrinkles.

Peak Performance

Many of us don’t reach the top of our game until we are well into our 70’s. Whilst we may become forgetful this is only because of the sheer amount of knowledge, experience and information our brain has to shift through. While brain cells are broken down with age new ones are set up giving us creative ways of thinking. We become inventive.

The example given was of Gay Macintyre, and 82 year old jazz player who continues to find new and innovative ways of playing the saxophone.

As we age our left and right brain combine so we get to connect our logical and creative side in ways young people can’t.

We can use smells to unlock hidden memories. Because some parts of our personal history is embedded deeply within our minds a smell can take us back to a particular place in time.

We also experience greater knowledge, extra creativity and joined up thinking. With age comes wisdom.

Companionship

companionshipCompanionship helps us live longer. We are never too old for romance or love although many older people choose to live alone after becoming a widow.

Companionship can also take place in the form of animals, being more social by getting out and having responsibility for looking after a life (animal or human). There was a lovely story of a community group who helped bring older people in the community together by getting them to look after a group of hen and their chicks. It really transformed the lives of the people that took part.

The Secret to Getting Old was a really positive look at life as we age that included a really important message. How we live as we get older is all down to what we think about ourselves and our life. Positive thinking seems to play a very important part. Keeping mind and body active and enjoying relationships were key.

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