Aging is an inevitable natural process that is associated with concomitant health complications which call for interventions to promote a healthy life. Healthy aging is important for national and economic growth and development. Increasing life expectancy has led to higher among people in the United States not only to live longer but to live longer with fewer years of disability, lower levels of morbidity, and with high quality of life. Healthy longer life spans has been made possible with the increasingly medical advances (Adler, et al. 2016). The escalating health and social costs reflect a strong interest among senior citizens and the general society to promote health in old age. According Word Health Organization (WHO), investing in health throughout life yields dividends for societies everywhere. While maintaining healthy aging requires interventions that address physical health including, adequate good healthcare physical activity, and good nutrition, it is certainly not limited to this. The WHO’s classic definition is that health is not the absence of disease or infirmity but a state of complete social, mental, and physical well-being. This belief is widely upheld and good health is a cornerstone to healthy aging (World Health Organization, 2015).
Determinants of Healthy Aging
A systematic review carried out by Braveman and Gottlieb (2014) on determinants of healthy aging, categorized the determinants into psychosocial, behavioral, medical, and demographic factors. The behavioral factors shown to significantly impact healthy aging include:
Smoking is associated with various health complications including lung cancer and other respiratory infections such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the findings of the study being a nonsmoker was associated with healthy aging (Braveman & Gottlieb, 2014). This group of non-smokers included individuals who have never smoked or previously quit smoking. A lower rate of smoking is also predictive of healthy aging.
The systemic review showed a considerable variation in the measurement and variation of the measurement of this variable. For instance, moderate consumption of alcohol in relation to complete abstention was beneficial for healthy aging. However, chronic consumption of alcohol is associated with health complications such as dehydration, lack of appetite, and liver cirrhosis which affect healthy aging. In the study by Braveman and Gottlieb (2014) absence of alcohol abuse before the age of 50 years was a significant protective factor in univariate analysis. However, it was not a determinant in multivariate analysis where the effect may have been linked with smoking.
The measures of physical activity differ by type, intensity, frequency, and the stage of life at which these measures are taken. However, there is a general consensus that high levels of physical activity is associated with healthy aging. Prospective studies show that various levels of physical activity such as participating in several times a week gardening and walking are essential to attaining healthy aging (Kaeberlein, Rabinovitch, & Martin, 2015).
Being overweight or obese predicts unhealthy aging. Normal range of body weight and associated with subsequent healthy aging. Normal body sizes reduce likely of comorbidities associated with being overweight such as hypertension and cardiac arrest, and diabetes which lead to unhealthy aging (Ma et al. 2016).
As a person gets older, good nutrition plays an important role in healthy aging. Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and fiber in, low salt, and low-fat diet can reduce the age-related risk of osteoporosis, stroke, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic diseases (Braveman & Gottlieb 2014). Therefore healthy aging strongly depends on the type of diet one chooses to feed on. Lower values of diet are associated with poor unhealthy aging.
Healthy aging involves creating the opportunities and environments that enable people to be and what they need over the course of their lives. Every individual can experience healthy aging depending on the choices they make in their lives and the availability of resources. Health is not the absence of disease or infirmity but a state of complete social, mental, and physical well-being. The determinants of health aging include diet, physical activity, obesity, and lifestyle behaviors such as smoking and alcoholism.
Adler, N. et al. (2016). Addressing social determinants of health and health disparities. National Academy of Medicine. Perspectives: Vital Directions for Health and Health Care Initiative.
Braveman, P., & Gottlieb, L. (2014). The behavioral determinants of health: it’s time to consider the causes of the causes. Public health reports, 129(1_suppl2), 19-31.
Kaeberlein, M., Rabinovitch, P. S., & Martin, G. M. (2015). Healthy aging: the ultimate preventative medicine. Science, 350(6265), 1191-1193.
Ma, W., Hagan, K., Sun, Q., Rimm, E. B., & Qi, L. (2016). Adult Height, Lifestyle and Healthy Aging.
World Health Organization. (2015). World report on ageing and health. World Health Organization.