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Living Independently Blog

Successful Aging: Why Our Lifestyle Choices Matter So Much

LifestyleIncorporate the four foundations to maximize your human potential and age successfully.

At Envisage, we’re proud of our partnership with Masterpiece Living, a multi-specialty group that works with more than 80 organizations nationwide to maximize the potential of older adults. In the 1980s, the MacArthur Foundation commissioned a study to understand why some seniors age more successfully than others, and Masterpiece Living began conducting applied research to support their theories.

The researchers, who included Dr. Jonas Salk, studied seniors over many years to explore why, for example, one 81-year-old can cross-country ski, while another is confined to a wheelchair. It was the first study of its kind, because it looked at human potential, rather than the decline in aging that’s typically referenced.

Through the applied research, the study found that 70% of successful living is based on lifestyle choices. And those lifestyle choices derive from four key foundations: spiritual health; intellectual health; physical health; and social health.

In 2014, the book “Live Long, Die Short” revealed the findings of the research and brought the Masterpiece Living story to life. So let’s dive a little deeper into each of these key tenets of successful aging.

Spiritual Health is difficult to define, but Masterpiece Living describes it as purpose and meaning in your life. It’s a quest for something greater than yourself and the pursuit of answering the ultimate question about the meaning of life. Even more so, it’s your reason to move forward. But your spiritual health need not be grandiose: Try volunteering, working for a charity, doing anything that brings you solace. At Envisage, our Personal Wellness and Care Coordinators coach our members on mindfulness and breathing techniques to foster a decrease in stress and anxiety and an increase in quality sleep and attentiveness to bring this all-important spiritual component to life.

Physical Health. If you could decrease your risk of dementia, osteoporosis, angina and a host of other ailments by just getting up and moving around 30 to 40 minutes a day, what would you say? The MacArthur Foundation study – and countless research that has followed – found that movement is a medicine for creating change in your mental status, emotional status and physical status. So start small, but start somewhere. Try standing at your desk or marching in place during your favorite TV show. And don’t be afraid to celebrate your successes. Remember that active hobbies like gardening or working in the yard count, too!

Intellectual Health. Challenge your brain by doing something new and different that forces you to think. Take a longer route to work or the grocery store. Envisage’s Personal Health & Wellness Care Coordinators help to address decreases in cognitive ability scores by identifying ways that members can become more engaged and encourage members to switch up their habits with increased phone conversations with friends and daily walks.

Social Health. Isolation during the pandemic affected our social connections, but it’s important to connect with the individuals who make you laugh and add a positive impact to your life. Maintaining those valuable relationships is so important to your health, because it truly nourishes your life. Just as important is laughter -- a positive social connection that helps us to live longer. At Masterpiece Living, we like to say, “Laugh to a better life.” So try writing down how many times you laugh during the day – and we mean a true belly laugh that helps you to forget about your worries. Next, look at what brings you joy and laughter. Maybe it’s an old favorite TV show or spending time with family and friends who bring you joy and laughter.

How are you incorporating the four foundations of successful aging into your life? If you need some inspiration on how to start, reach out to us. Our members – supported by their Personal Wellness & Care Coordinators – are equipped to understand and focus on these foundations in order to promote a healthy, independent life at home.