The amazing number of people in Okinawa, Japan, who live to be 100 or older inspired researchers to learn the secrets of the region’s residents. The Okinawa Centenarian Study began in 1975. Over the years, scientists had the opportunity to study more than 900 seniors, and the researchers discovered some of the lifestyle habits that kept the study’s subjects from developing chronic diseases and allowed them to defy aging. Here are five of these key healthy habits.
1. Exercise More Often
Okinawan seniors remain active throughout their lives. They continue performing daily chores, which often include gardening, farming, building, and doing housework. Because this Japanese prefecture, which includes more than 150 islands in the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan’s mainland, is one of the poorest regions in the world, there are few automobiles or other signs of technology. Residents walk where they need to go, physically carry everyday items, and engage in other forms of exercise. They maintain mental clarity by having healthy social lives and staying updated on current events.
Older adults who need help exercising can benefit from professional in-home care. Home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
2. Follow a Healthy Diet
The diet Okinawans follow is predominantly plant-based. Seniors eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as non-genetically altered soy products. They don’t use salt, infrequently indulge in sweets, and refrain from regular alcohol use. Okinawan elders also don’t typically smoke.
If your loved one needs help with maintaining a healthy diet, a home caregiver can be a wonderful resource. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of at-home care. Portland families can rely on Align Home Care Services to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
The centenarians in Okinawa don’t overeat. Their lifestyle involves a practice known as “hara hachi bu,” which roughly translates as “Eat until you’re 80 percent full.” The maximum amount of calories they consume in a day is 1,800. When combined with physical activity, this modest diet enables the elderly to remain trim.
4. Boost Brain Health
Along with the daily activities that help Japanese seniors enjoy mental clarity, researchers found their diets contain high amounts of vitamin E. This nutrient acts as an antioxidant, which means it interferes with the effects of free radicals that contribute to aging and disease. As a result, these seniors rarely develop symptoms of dementia.
5. Value Others
In Japanese culture, people express a high level of respect for their elders. Centenarians are valued as individuals by family, friends, and the larger communities in which they live.
Hiring a professional caregiver is one of the best ways to ensure your loved one makes healthy lifestyle choices that promote longevity. Living independently is important for seniors who want to maintain a high quality of life. For some, this simply means receiving help with tasks that have become more challenging to manage over time. Even when families have the best intentions, they may not have the time to provide the care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. If your loved one needs help for a few hours a day or a few days a week, reach out to Align Home Care Services, a trusted provider of respite care Portland seniors can depend on. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (207) 835-3490 today.