Katherine Hepburn once famously said. Life is hard; after all, it kills you. She went on to live to the ripe old age of 96. Living by her own rules, she is considered one of the most influential women of the 20th Century. She was a fascinating woman who paddled her own canoe, and despite her health issues, it could be said Katherine was a Super Ager.
So what is a Super Ager, you might well ask?
A Super Ager is someone who, despite their senior years, has physical and/or cognitive functions comparable to a much younger person.
Usually, they are described as being in their 80s but appear to age at a much slower rate than others in the same age group.
Their memory abilities, how they think, and their physical fitness belie their years.
I’ll have what she’s having.
So what do these unique individuals do that the rest of us can copy or adapt in our own lives to become Super Agers? I suspect they foster a mindset that allows them to make the mental adjustments necessary with each passing year.
How we age physically and cognitively requires a mindset to overcome the mental hurdles we all encounter as we age. Except, a positive mindset is challenging to achieve. After all, we’re all human; we have ups and downs.
Is it a concerted effort or something that comes naturally for the Super Agers?
It seems they know how to have fun, engage with others, continue to be social, and enjoy time with people as much as they love being alone. Staying young at heart and willing to keep learning goes a long way in becoming a Super Ager.
Having a giggle at all the dumb stuff you did.
They probably find laughter is the best medicine! Of course, laughing is vital to an enjoyable life, but how about the ability to see the humour in our misteps and foibles? When was the last time you had a quiet giggle at something you did in your past?
Sure, life can be a serious business, but there’s no need to take yourself so seriously.
And I’m sure Super Agers don’t worry about situations beyond their control, like the thoughts or opinions of other people. Ruminating about a past transgression doesn’t really help, does it? Be open to the lesson, forgive yourself and move on. We’re all human.
Generally, the Super Agers seem to be content human beings with healthy lifestyle habits.
So what about those lifestyle habits? You may have more control over how you age than you think, and while working on that positive mindset, those habits that seem to make life enjoyable are often better when taken in moderation.
Choose your habits wisely.
And, the most lethal of them all is, of course, smoking, and a Super Ager probably gave up smoking years ago.
The changes you make will mentally and physically contribute to how you age intrinsically and extrinsically and help to defy your chronological age.
One bad habit often spoils a dozen good ones.
The four big-ass agers you should try to avoid.
The big-ass ager of them all is smoking! And to be honest, what more can I say? Are you mad? It will deplete every nutrient in your body and destroy your lungs, just for starters.
As for your skin? Well, it’s being starved of nutrients, and poor blood circulation will ensure you’re skin looks as dull as last week’s Netflix.
Vitamin C is one of the essential nutrients delivered to the skin, and smoking gobbles up vitamin C. Eating more fruit or applying a vitamin C serum, while helpful, will not make you a Super Ager.
Sure, it looks cool, even sexy, but that’s where the romance ends. And, I know it’s hard to kick this habit but find a way.
As for vaping? Okay, sure, use it to wean yourself off tobacco, but as the newly acquired habit, it’s becoming for teens? There is harm here, and it just makes me angry!
So, I repeat. Find a way. Stop smoking. You will NEVER have great skin or a healthy lifespan if you continue.
#2 The Sun
No doubt you know the sun will age your skin as fast as you can say; where’d all the years go?
Be diligent. Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen, and don’t forget your neck and chest. Don’t wake up one morning wondering what happened.
It’s also worth noting sun exposure activates free radicals that contribute to conditions like skin cancer.
Think of yourself as a once juicy apple left out of the fridge to go brown; free radicals oxidise you, inside and out, and while they’re a natural process within the body, preventing an overload will help you become a Super Ager.
Stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen and eat foods high in antioxidants.
Colourful vegetables, low-sugar berries and green tea will all help.
This leads me to the next big-ass ager. Yep, that champagne cocktail or any other alcoholic drink is ageing you—big time.
Now, before I get all self-righteous on you, I enjoy a glass of champagne or wine, but the more I learn about the dangers of alcohol, the less I’m inclined to overindulge, not just for the sake of my skin but for what it’s doing to my body.
Alcohol has been classed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Which means the toxins left behind in your body can lead to cancer. The two toxins produced by alcohol consumption are acetaldehyde and acetic acid, and your liver works very hard to eliminate them, which can lead to a taxed-out liver.
Spare a thought for your liver, and what happens if it fails to do its job? Yep, toxins are left to roam around your body, damaging every cell, including your brain cells.
Not only that, you’ll be robbed of niacinamide (vitamin B3), the must-have skin nutrient in any beauty routine. So, before spending big on that niacinamide serum, cut back on alcohol and ask your doctor about B complex supplements to address any shortfalls in your diet.
Once you’ve done all the above, only then should you invest in a topical niacinamide serum for your face.
I know, what a killjoy. But it is what it is, and I refuse to sugarcoat it for you.
Which naturally leads me to sugar, pure white and deadly. Yep, if you’re overeating sugar, your body will suffer, and so will your skin.
Diabetes type 2 is caused when insulin, the hormone responsible for glucose regulation in your body, stops working. Insulin is the gatekeeper, allowing glucose from your food to enter cells, so they function correctly.
Once adequate glucose has passed through the cell’s permeable membrane, the insulin key locks the door, and any excess glucose is safely stored in your liver until it’s needed.
If this process is broken, all hell breaks loose. Glucose is locked out of your cells and left to roam like shards of glass ripping through your body, leaving your cells starving and unable to function, and the subsequent health issues can be devastating. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, take it seriously. In some cases, with an improved diet and regular exercise, type 2 diabetes can be put into remission.
But, sure, you may be one of those resilient types, and your insulin keeps giving no matter what you do. However, you may still succumb to this sugary hell in the form of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), let’s call it glycation, which is when cells get sticky and, once again, fail to perform.
Glycation is a big ass ager that leads to skin wrinkling that doesn’t respond well to skincare or cosmetic interventions like injectables.
There’s more to glycation than cutting back on sugar, but it’s a good place to start. Eat whole foods and vegetables to increase your antioxidant network and change your cooking methods from grilling and baking to slow and low. A more detailed story can be found here.
My final thoughts?
After caring for someone with dementia, I developed an uneasy relationship with the aesthetic industry as your ageing skin is just the tip of the iceberg, and no matter how good your skin looks, you better take care of what’s going on in your mind and body if you want to live a healthy lifespan.
Phew! You made it to the end of this post; well done you. Now, go forth, future Super Ager and defy your chronological age!
If you’ve questions or want to get in touch, you can reach me here.
See you next time.