The Science of Healthy Aging

Healthy aging is more than a goal or aspiration. It’s a science, and beyond that, it can be a refreshing new way to think about the way we live. Researchers are deepening our understanding of the human body and experience every day in an extraordinary effort to extend our health spans—not to be confused with science fiction or an attempt to live forever, but rather a hope to live better for longer.

 

Right here in California, incredible work is already being done to expand our knowledge of how and why humans age. Recently, Sky News investigative journalists came all the way from the UK to talk with the pioneers of aging research in our west-coast state. They visited the University of California in Los Angeles, BioAge Labs in San Francisco, and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, where the science of all things aging—from “superager” humans with unusually long lifespans, to the biology of long-living animals, to medical advancements—appears to be gaining momentum.

 

The field of aging science is certainly growing and attracting a lot of attention, and things like cell behavior and DNA mutation can help us understand why aspects of our daily lives—such as activity, education, engagement, and environment—have significant impacts on our well-being. These conditions in which we are born, live, grow, work, and age are called the Social Determinants of Health, and we’re understanding how they impact our quality of life and advance health equity more all the time.

 

What these determinants tell us is that certain circumstances—such as access to transportation, food security, and connection to a community—affect our ability to be healthy. Many of us know the kind of lifestyle we want to live, but not everyone has a choice or clear path to their goals, and this has been especially true throughout history for older adults who live in communities with little options for support. Our goal as individuals, as well as a community, is to reduce the risk factors so everyone can reach their health goals at all stages of life. For community-based organizations, like Vivalon, this means offering a path to healthy aging for older folks right here in Marin, in the community that they helped build and choose to live in.

 

After touring the scientific labs, Sky News came to Vivalon on the recommendation of the Buck Institute to see how older adults in Marin are choosing a healthy aging lifestyle.

 

“I’m still enjoying life and I find various and sundry ways to do it,” Jim, a Vivalon member, told the Sky News journalists on their recent visit.

 

Gretchen, another one of our members, echoes Jim’s sentiment, saying, “I do what I can to keep myself focused moving forward.”

 

Jim and Gretchen so succinctly unpack the core of healthy aging—the idea that even though some things change when we reach a certain age, that doesn’t mean we have to stop learning, engaging, and trying new things.

 

Everyone has a different vision for their life, and services at Vivalon can help members achieve that goal—whether that’s through signature programs like [email protected] or playing ukulele, learning the art of hula dancing, and painting with watercolors. Members can join Zumba and yoga for fitness, book clubs and mah-jongg for social activities, and enjoy an affordable lunch in our on-site café with food prepared by an award-winning chef.

 

Still, for some, the question may be: Why does any of this matter? The answer is simple: Marin’s population is aging. More than a quarter of our residents are over the age of 60. We have the most rapidly aging county in the Bay Area, and it’s only expected to grow. So far, scientists have not uncovered the key to immortality, which means, for the time being, we all will age and need a foundation of services for support. Faced with that reality, the question becomes: What do you want your healthy aging path to look like?

 

Vivalon’s healthy aging program is a great place to start. Come try a class and join us for lunch at the Jackson Café, or become a member and enjoy benefits like café discounts, a first look at upcoming classes and events, and access to a host of activities and resources at our Healthy Aging Center. Membership at Vivalon is $48 for an individual and $80 for a couple. With the holidays just around the corner, consider gifting a Vivalon membership to yourself or someone close to you.

 

Sign up to become a member here, or call us at 415-456-9062.

We can’t wait to see you here!

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