Delaying the process of ageing with the right food, nutrition, exercise and positive thoughts.
Ageing is a physiological process that paves the way to connect with the world with earned wisdom. This process needs to be embraced with grace. In ancient Vedic days, a human being’s life was divided into different ‘varnashrama dharmas’, which guided their lives. After active service in the world was accomplished, everybody, whether a king or a common man, followed Vanaprastha – retiring to the forests.
In the modern age, even though there is retirement from active services in the world, elders are still active in their minds. It is not ageing, which is a problem, it is accelerated ageing that is a problem, wherein one enters this process earlier than their biological age.
What brings about ageing?
Ageing at the physical and physiological levels happens due to gravity posed changes in the human organs and system. Our organ systems are endowed with certain capacities which are known as cognitive reserve, reserve lung volume, cardiac reserve, etc. All these reserves are maintained through healthy lifestyle and this is most needed when one enters a phase of life when increased degeneration occurs due to oxidative stress more than regeneration.
Present day science and technology has extended the life span of humans but due to lifestyle changes the quality of life has been compromised.
How do we view ageing?
At the physical level, gravity poses changes in the upright posture thereby inducing many compromises in the musculoskeletal system. This results in hunch backs, stiff necks, lower back aches, knee pain, etc.
At the physiological level, cell degeneration occurs through oxidative stress which is exaggerated these days due to changed lifestyles, thereby disturbing the internal and external milieu. At the emotional level, stress responses affect the neuroendocrine system which also gets exaggerated with uncertainties in challenging times such as the present pandemic.
At the Intellectual level, a disconnect due to inactive mind-oriented tasks bring about disengaging sense and thereby the impairment of cognition.
What can we do to address this premature or accelerated ageing and age gracefully?
At the physical level – Adequate physical activity and exercises are important to maintain good balance, coordination and posture.
At the physiological level – Balanced nutrition and adequate rest are needed to reduce the oxidative stress which also needs to be addressed through individual contributions to reduce the pollution at the environmental level.
At the emotional level – Reconnect with the inner child and engage in joyful artistic activities like music, dance, drama, etc. as a group activity.
At the intellectual level – Engaging the mind in connecting with society through authoring articles, sharing wisdom with the youth through debates and discussions can keep the cognitive reserve in good state.
Where do we see all this happening?
Retirement communities help in delaying the ageing process and promotes graceful and positive ageing. In senior living communities, daily routines are thoughtfully designed to maintain bio rhythms aided with timely elder-friendly meals. Balanced nutrition and well-choreographed activities prevent and reorient accelerated ageing to a slower pace while retaining good memory and cognition.