I have been doing successful aging and did not even know it, until I started researching what the scientists et. al. were saying about gerontology.
I am 61 and a parent of an 11 and a 5 year old, a husband, a business man, self-employed, a marketer, and a online business man.
Most everything I do excites me, and I am ready to get going on the effort.
I like to work out, I enjoy discovering new information, and developing novel approaches to my online and offline markets, and putting together what might appear to be disparate ideas in a different way.
In fact, if I was to re-career, it would be as a librarian. I have always loved libraries.
I have been a student of Chi Gong for about nine years, and I did that to lay the ground work for a long and healthy life.
In fact, the Master of the Golden Shield lineage says we should "set the signal" for a much longer life than we in the West usually do, and this lineage is about 2400 years old, older than Christianity.
So while I am "too broke to die", I am involved in activities which keep me excited and alive and vibrant.
Another of those exciting activities is looking at recent discoveries about the brain, called neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, which indicate that we can enhance our brains capacities throughout the life span, until the very last seconds of life.
Since the brain plays a very significant role in everything I do, I am very excited to know that I can help my brain along the road to functionality, by taking care of the pillars of brain fitness, as the experts are coming to call them.
So my idea of successful aging has much to do with my own responsibility for my own health.
I learned long ago that I need to maintain my thoughts toward gratitude, and since I have become a counselor, I am now teaching my clients about automatic negative thoughts and how to dispute negative thoughts, and when I (or they) do that, I feel good, which is very healthy for me.
But back to the pillars of brain fitness.
They are, in order of descending importance, physical exercise, nutrition including lots of omega 3 fatty acid, stress management, sleep, and novel learning experience including computerized brain fitness programs like the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program.
Why Posit Science? Check out the IMPACT study. The following is a quick video including participation by both the researchers and the study participants. To view, click the white triangle in the black box.
Posit Science is the brain child of Michael Merzenich,Ph.D., and is designed for us Seniors, but back to the pillars of our brain fitness.
For a good look at what is involved in maximizing your brain fitness, read Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., neuroscientists at the University of Michigan who have culled the research for tidbits that you and I can use to successfully age.
Their first tidbits discuss the absolute necessity of physical activity/exercise for our neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
The good news is that we can get the exercise we need at home in our utility room doing HIIT or high intensity interval training with very sophisticated equipment like an exercise ball or dumbbells.
Want to see how 88 and 82 year old Bill and Pat do HIIT? Go about half way down the page that clicking on this link takes you to, and you will see what they do.
Scott and Angie Tousignant Workouts for Couples
So we can do our physical activity or exercise for our brains and successful aging at home in 10 minute intervals?
That is correct, which brings us to the next pillar of brain fitness, nutrition.
The Brainfit for Life authors spend a lot of time on antioxidants like blue berries, which you should mix in your smoothies, and omega 3 fatty acid.
It turns out that those neurons whose neuroplasticity and neurogenesis we are trying to enhance are sheathed in a membrane which is composed mostly of omega 3 fatty acid. Should there not be a steady supply of replacement omega 3, those membranes get brittle and neuron to neuron communication is garbled, which translates to losing your keys and glasses often.
The best source of omega 3 fatty acid is fish, which means these days that you need to monitor mercury poisoning. If eating fish is not your thing, then dietary supplements may be your tool.
Stress management is the next successful aging brain fitness pillar.
Stress hormones kill new brain cells before they get a chance to be cemented into brain circuitry. That is the bottom line.
The best stress management tools are free, so breathe deeply frequently and those new neurons will get put into play in your brain right away.
However, a great stress management tool to use in conjunction with the deep breathing and thoughts of gratitude is Heartmath, or heart rate variability biofeedback, which is based on another new field, neurocardiology, or the study of the hearts own nervous system.
With a little practice, I can learn to cue a coherent heart beat with wonderful successful aging consequences, and wonderful brain fitness consequences. In fact, when I cue HeartMath, I change the chemistry inside my body to a hormonal bath of DHEA, which is the anti-aging hormone.
Now for the novel learning experiences. The writers say that this kind of learning experience must have increasing levels of challenge, and must provide us a chance to get the correct answer about 80% of the time. The usual novel learning experiences mentioned are learning a new language or a new instrument.
If you do not have the time or the inclination to learn a language or an instrument, then try some to the computerized programs like the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, made for us Boomers by Michael Merzenich,Ph.D, and the Posit Science folks.