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Long, Long Healthy Living

Long, Long Healthy Living

Connie Sawyer, now 103, the oldest member of the Screen Actors Guild, appeared in a recent episode of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO: “I had to get to 102 not to have to audition—for once,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. 

What can you do to stay as on-the-ball as Connie? New research indicates that cultivating a positive outlook and using the Internet to stay in touch, learn, and even exercise can make a big difference in how your 70s, 80s, 90s—and beyond—play out.

One recent study from the University of Toronto discovered that “people’s feelings about getting older influence their sensory and cognitive functions.” In other words, if you think aging is about falling apart, chances are you’ll experience unnecessary problems with memory and hearing. And a Yale University study says a negative attitude about aging earlier in life increases your risk for memory-impairing brain changes when you get older.

On the positive side, another study found older folks who use the Internet are more connected to friends and family and more engaged in learning—easing heart-and brain-damaging loneliness and keeping cognition sharp.

Our Suggestion: Cultivate optimism by practicing mindful meditation (it relieves stress), doing for others (generosity fills the heart with positive emotions) and exercising regularly (it beats depression). And if you’re not Internet savvy, sign up for a class about getting online. Then dive into email; read up on your favorite topics; and download a strength-building video to follow 2-3 days a week.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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