When You’re 84…What Should Life Look Like as We Age? > Health in Aging Blog > Health in Aging
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research summary Have you thought about what you would like your life to be like at 84? When a leading healthcare system leader asked Lewis A. Lipsitz, MD, this question, Director of the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Research in Aging at Hebrew SeniorLife and Professor of Medicine […]

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research summary

Have you thought about what you would like your life to be like at 84?

When a leading healthcare system leader asked Lewis A. Lipsitz, MD, this question, Director of the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Research in Aging at Hebrew SeniorLife and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Lipsitz has published an essay in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society which described his thoughts. The following is a summary of his essay, titled “When I'm 84: What Life Should Be Like in Old Age”.

Knowing that I am a geriatrician, a esteemed health system leader once asked me: " would you like your life to be like old age? I immediately listed the main contributors to healthy longevity: regular physical activity, a balanced diet, a sense of purpose, social and family bonds, intellectual stimulation and preventative health care.

However, many of us struggle to achieve these goals for a variety of reasons. While we all hope to live long and productive lives, the field of geriatrics is more focused on achieving a long “period of health,” in which we are free from disease and disability, cognitively intact and socially engaged. . Since social factors account for most of the poor health outcomes, we need to help seniors cope with healthy longevity in our environment, homes, communities and lifestyles.

Here is what I envision:


Like most people, I would like to live in my own home until the day I die, but only if I can avoid social isolation and loneliness. Loneliness is a life-threatening condition, causing as much damage as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Living alone can be isolating and dangerous for our health as we age, especially as we face various illnesses that limit mobility and the loss of partners, siblings and friends. That's why I want to live in a multigenerational, multicultural community where I can interact with other people of all ages. I would like to be a safe five to ten minute walk or wheelchair on smooth sidewalks and safe level crossings to retail stores, banks, restaurants, places of worship, parks and places of worship. entertainment that helps me stay physically and emotionally, intellectually and spiritually engaged.

My housing must be affordable, easy to maintain, safe and accessible to nutrition services, housekeeping, maintenance and transportation. I hope it includes a technology that automatically adapts to my needs and allows me to move around and enjoy independence, despite the disabilities I may develop.


I hope to stay engaged in meaningful and productive work. This can be part time or full time, paid or unpaid, as long as it gives a sense of purpose, intellectual stimulation and social interaction. There is a large and untapped workforce of retirees who have the knowledge, skills, experience and stamina to make a meaningful contribution to society. Areas in which such a workforce is badly needed include child and elder care; environmental protection through recycling, shared transport and organic farming; food preparation and delivery; education; organizational leadership; and philanthropy.


Older people fear many types of insecurity, including insecurity related to our finances (pensions or inadequate savings), health care (affordability, access or poor quality of health care), physical (assault or theft), transport (inadequate, inaccessible, or unsafe public transport), food (inability to cook, access or afford) and housing (loss of property value or increase in rent).

I would like to see the availability of government and community sponsored safety nets such as eligibility programs, ridesharing services, communal dining rooms or home delivered meals, subsidized apartments, alarms and security guards and trusted advisers. In a Perfect World, you can access these services in community centers, through an internet connection or telephone contact, supported in part by a senior workforce and funded by government and business partnerships.

Health care

As people age and develop age-related illnesses, two of the most common, feared, costly, and least understood disabilities are loss of mobility and cognition (the ability to think and think). decisions). These often mark the beginning of fragility and decline. People with these conditions may turn to healthcare professionals in doctor's offices, emergency departments, or hospitals for help. However, the most effective interventions, including senior-friendly home renovations and exercise, can take place in your home or community.

Currently in the United States, the hospital is the center of the world of health. Doctors' offices belong to or are affiliated with hospital medical centers and networks. Although many community-based health promotion services exist, they are often disconnected from traditional medical facilities and most physicians are unfamiliar with them.

I would like health care to be home and community centered with health care providers in every apartment complex or neighborhood. Home visits would be routine and technology would make it possible to deliver health care safely and efficiently at home. The surgeries would be equipped to provide a “home hospital” if needed. You can access immunization and chronic disease treatment services in neighborhoods. I may also see the day when the use of portable and / or home monitors could alert healthcare professionals about your personal risks so they can intervene to prevent problems.


Many aspects of my hopes for a healthy aging are influenced by programs that already exist, especially for traditionally underserved populations. For example, many cities are building more affordable and subsidized senior housing, although they often lack architectural and environmental standards or support services that can promote the health of their residents.

  • The Community Aging in Place - Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) program developed at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing provides home nursing, occupational therapy and restorative services to low-income seniors to increase mobility, functionality and the ability to age in place.
  • Vermont Support and Services at Home (SASH) deploys a Wellness Nurse and Care Coordinator who engages social service agencies, community health care providers and nonprofit housing organizations to enable residents of Vermont to live independently at home.
  • Massachusetts Health Policy Commission supports Hebrew SeniorLife's Right Care, Right Place, Right Time (R3) project in low-income senior housing to test the effect of support services on health care utilization .

These valid initiatives are unfortunately limited to certain populations. We need the means to fund programs like these across the country.

By combining the resources of government agencies, states, cities, private insurers, developers, and others, we could create model communities and test their impact on public health. I hope that by reflecting on what we would like our later years to look like, future leaders can be more deliberate in creating living environments that promote long and productive health.

This summary is from "When I'm 84: What Should Life Look Like in Old Age?" It appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The author is Lewis A. Lipsitz, MD, Hebrew SeniorLife, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School.

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What does it mean to age gracefully ? You can’t stand in a checkout line without seeing at least a few magazine headlines about how to look younger. While dreading some wrinkles and sagging isn’t uncommon, there’s so much more to aging well.

Aging gracefully isn’t about trying to look like a 20-something — it’s about living your best life and having the physical and mental health to enjoy it. Like a bottle of wine, you can get better with age with the right care. Read on to find out what to do and what not to do on your quest to age happily.

Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide impression. to keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.

Your skin is your body’s largest organTrusted Source. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature, and provide sensation. tera keep it looking and functioning at its best : Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Get yearly skin cancer screenings. Stick to gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine. Stay hydrated.

Regular exercise significantly lowers your risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and helps you retain your mobility longer. Exercise also lowers stress and improves sleep, skin and bone health, and mood. The Department of Health

Healthy foods are the way to go when it comes to aging gracefully. The Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source recommends that you eat : fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen, or cannedlean protein, such as fish and beansat least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta every daythree servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that are fortified with vitamin Dhealthy fatsAvoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. You should also keep your salt intake to a minimum to keep your blood pressure down.

Being happy and keeping your stress down goes a long way in helping you live and age well. to keep your mood elevated : Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve mental and physical well-being and longevity. Don’t forget your furry loved ones as having a pet has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods. Accept your age. There is evidence that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging real longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference. Do things you enjoy. Taking the time to engage in activities you enjoy will only fuel your happiness. Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer — whatever brings you joy.

Numerous studiesTrusted Source have linked a sedentary life to an increased risk of chronic illness and early death. Some possibilités to stay active are going on walks and hikes, taking vacations, and participating in group exercise classes.

The effects of stress on your body are vast, ranging from premature aging and wrinkles to a higher risk of heart disease. There are a number of proven ways to relieve stress, including : using relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yogaexercisinggetting adequate sleeptalking to a friend

Smoking and alcohol have both been shown to cause premature aging and increase the risk of disease. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are resources available to help you quit. Speak to a doctor about how to quit. As for alcohol, limit your intake to the recommendedTrusted Source amount to avoid health risks. That’s one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Good sleep is important for your physical and mental health. It also plays a role in your skin’s health. How much sleep you need depends on your age. Adults over 18 should aim for seven to eight hoursTrusted Source of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep has been proven to : lower the risk of heart disease and strokereduce stress and depressionlower the risk of obesityreduce inflammationimprove focus and concentration

Finding new and meaningful hobbies can help you maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. Evidence shows that people who engage in hobbies and leisure and social activities are happier, experience less depression, and live longer.

Mindfulness is about acceptance and living in the moment by focusing on the present. Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better, including : improved focusbetter memorylower stressimproved emotional reactionrelationship satisfactionincreased immune functioningTo practice mindfulness, try : meditationyogatai chicoloring

Drinking enough water helps keep you regular and improves your energy levels and brain function. Coincidentally, it’s also been provenTrusted Source to help keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging. How much water you should drink depends on : your thirstyour activity levelhow often you urinate and move your bowelshow much you sweatyour genderSpeak to a doctor if you have questions or concerns about your water intake.

Not taking care of your teeth not only ages your smile, but also puts you at risk for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Along with proper oral care, it’s important to see a dentist regularly. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot signs of nutritional deficiencies, contagion, cancer, and other illnesses, such as diabetes. They recommend brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse.

Seeing a doctor regularly can help the doctor find problems early or even before they start. How often you see a doctor depends on your age, lifestyle, family history, and existing conditions. Ask your doctor how often you should go in for checkups and screening tests as you age. Also, see a doctor anytime you experience concerning symptoms.

Though aging is inevitable, some people find it difficult to deal with the changes that come with getting older. If you’re worried about your health, are having dysfonctionnement feeling positive about aging, or worry that you’re not aging well it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend. Professional help is also available through a doctor or a counselor.

Aging gracefully is more about being healthy and happy than keeping wrinkles at bay. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do things that bring you joy. It’s natural to worry about the défis that aging can bring, so don’t hesitate to speak to someone about your concerns.


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