The Japanese appear to know what they’re doing when it comes to aging gracefully, as the world's largest population of older healthy adults resides on the Japanese island of Okinawa. In fact, the last two people who held the title of world's oldest person (116 years old) were both from Japan. This is why Home Care Assistance’s Balanced Care Method™ (BCM) is modeled after studies of these long-lived Japanese elders.
So what does Japan know about aging and longevity that the Western world does not? Below are 5 things that the East can teach us about healthy aging.
1. Clean arteries require work.
Compared to Westerners, senior Okinawans have low cholesterol, low homocysteine levels and impressively clean arteries, which lower their risk for stroke and coronary heart disease by as much as 80 percent. Although genes do play a role, a larger part is due to a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, avoidance of smoking, moderate alcohol use, blood pressure control and low stress levels. Home Care Assistance caregivers are Balanced Care Method™ trained to prepare healthy, nutritious meals for their clients and facilitate exercise as appropriate.
2. Focus on living better, not just longer.
Life should not be about living longer, but rather it should be about living better. How you feel at 90 matters more than simply reaching the age of 90. Studies have shown that Okinawans live better lives. They have substantially lower rates of dementia than Westerners and they suffer less than half the risk for hip fractures.
3. Exercise should be a community activity.
In just about every Chinese neighborhood park, you will notice groups of people practicing the centuries-old Chinese martial art known as Tai Chi. This martial art form involves a series of slow, meditative body movements that help promote balance and inner peace.
According to Medicinenet.com, in China it is believed that:
“Tai Chi can delay aging and prolong life, increase flexibility, strengthen muscles and tendons, and aid in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive disorders, skin diseases, depression, cancer and many other illnesses.”
Rather than hitting the gym and blasting headphone music to assure isolation as us Westerners do, the Chinese view exercise as a community activity. Should a regular Tai Chi member miss a scheduled morning workout, community members will visit his house to check on him or her. Home Care Assistance caregivers can help provide this type of social aspect to exercise.
4. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
Okinawans don’t diet. To them, a diet is what one eats for life. When researchers studied the traditional diets of Okinawans, they found that their diet is made up of 30 percent green and yellow vegetables. Although the typical Japanese diet is heavy in rice, the traditional Okinawa diet contains less rice and more sweet potato. Okinawans also consume only 30 percent of the sugar found in the traditional Japanese diet.
5. Naps aren’t just for babies and toddlers.
Nowhere in the world are mid-day naps so highly regarded as they are in the East. Sure siestas are common in the Mediterranean, but in China, office workers are often seen taking a 20-minute power nap at their desks after lunch. Regular, short naps have been known to increase productivity, improve cognitive functioning, reduce stress and even decrease one’s risk of heart disease.
For more tips on healthy aging, visit Home Care Assistance at www.homecareassistance.com or call 1-866-4-Live-In today!