Successful Aging with Blue Zones® Lifestyle Traits: Part Two

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In our last blog we started a deep dive into lifestyle traits in Blue Zones®, known as the Power 9®. We discussed how traits one through five – Move Naturally, Purpose, Down Shift, Hara Hachi Bu, Plant Slant – can help you to age more successfully. Now let’s see how traits six through nine – Wine @ 5, Belong, Loved Ones First and Right Tribe – can help you to do the same.

senior living guide to aging well

Recapping the Blue Zones

Blue Zones are five regions in the world where people seem to live the longest. Not just by a little bit either. For example, Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California happen to outlive other North Americans by an average of 10 years. Other Blue Zones’ regions include: Sardinia, Italy; the Greek island of Ikaria; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica and Okinawa, Japan. Surprisingly, residents in these regions share common lifestyle traits that Blue Zones’ researchers believe are a key to their longevity.

Lifestyle Trait 6 – Wine @ 5

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a 5 p.m., but people in all Blue Zones (except Seventh Day Adventists) drink alcohol regularly, in moderation.  Sardinian Cannonau wine is most often cited by these researchers and they also recommended drinking it with friends and/or with food.

In Your Daily Life: According to Healthline, the powerful plant compounds in red wine have been linked with a variety of health benefits, including reduced inflammation, lower heart disease and cancer risks, and extended lifespan. But there’s a fine line between moderation and excessive drinking which can be deadly. Limit yourself to one to two glasses a day.

Lifestyle Trait 7 – Belong

Blue Zones’ researchers interviewed 263 centenarians and all but five of them belonged to some type of faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t necessarily matter, just regular participation. 

In Your Daily Life: According to Blue Zones, research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add four to 14 years of life expectancy. If you’re in senior living, check to see if your community can provide transportation to church and/or if religious services are available onsite. In addition, you could participate in a bible study in your community or with your neighbors at home.

Lifestyle Trait 8 – Loved Ones First

Family comes first in Blue Zones which means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in your home which “lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.” Residents also commit to a life partner which “can add up to three years of life expectancy.”

In Your Daily Life: Our most important relationships can be the ones we take for granted the most in our overscheduled lives. Tips to reconnect and stay connected include: developing a routine that helps you spend quality time together during the week such as a designated family dinner night; take vacations together; plan family outings to favorite local places or have game night; simply disconnect from social media, etc. and make time to talk with each other; and be supportive whether it’s attending events, lending a hand or just being there to listen.

Lifestyle Trait 9 – Right Tribe

Whether they chose or were born into their social circles, the networks of Blue Zones’ residents, “favorably shaped their health behaviors.” Okinawans call it “moais,” groups of five friends committed to each other for life.

In Your Daily Life:  The National Institute on Aging reports that social isolation and loneliness are linked to increased risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and even death. To stay connected take advantage of technology to bridge the distance, look at local resources for clubs, classes and volunteer opportunities that fit your interests, and/or try something new like a hobby or skill to expand your circle. You might also consider getting a pet if you don’t already have one – dog parks and cat cafés are great places to meet new friends!

Blue Zones in Senior Living

Senior living makes it easy to incorporate all these traits into your life. For example, our Vibrant Living Program empowers residents to stay active, independent and socially connected through a lifestyle that includes clubs, classes, events and outings along with amenities such as pools, fitness centers, restaurant-style dining and housekeeping and laundry services.

For more information on how we incorporate the Blue Zones’ approach in senior living, check out our Successful Secrets to Aging Guide!