None of this research means we can magically halt or reverse the ageing process. Eyesight, hearing, memory, muscle mass, bone strength, healing processes: you name it, they all decline. And older people are of course more vulnerable to a whole ranges of illnesses.
These big studies are all based on averages, so saying you’re not middle aged isn’t going to stop everyone getting ill. But in his book The Expectation Effect, science journalist David Robson has some tips for us. He suggests that instead of mourning the loss of youth, we should focus on the experiences and knowledge we gain as we get older and notice how much better we get at dealing with things.
When older people are unwell, they shouldn’t assume that’s all due to old age. Above all, as we age, we should never give up on trying to be healthier and believing that there are many things we can still do. If we adopt this attitude, we are likely both to live longer and to enjoy those years.
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