How Aging Research Will Reshape Our Lives

New research into the science of genomics may influence how we age, our capacity to build brain health and the likelihood of healthy longevity

Aging research has shown that longevity is indeed a heritable trait, estimated to be about 20 to 30 percent genetic. But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to follow in your parents or grandparents’ footsteps. There are many things you can do even if your personal leaf isn’t part of the family tree with longevity and/or optimum brain health.

New research published in June 2017 in Nature, says the maximum human lifespan could jump to 125 years 1.

“Several variables play a role in healthy longevity, including social community, exercise, and a sense of purpose in life,” says Roberta L. Kline, MD, CEO, Genoma International. Cultivating these can improve healthy longevity, and Kline says it’s believed that longevity can occur through both modification of gene expression as well as epigenetic changes.

Studies from the past decade have identified several hundred genes responsible for lifespan 2. However, researchers are currently still attempting to piece together how genes that affect life span influence how we age and how altering or manipulating these genes impacts healthy longevity.

That’s where the science of genomics comes into play.

The Science of Genomics

Kline says genomics looks at how our genes and nutrition interact, and if/how what we eat plays a huge role in our health and longevity. “We know our genes interact with other environmental influences, including social situations, emotions and stress, exercise, chemicals, medications and more. And that epigenetic changes are modifications to the DNA structure that don’t actually change the DNA itself, and are a way that our body responds and adapts quickly to all sorts of environmental factors. All of this adds up over our lifetimes to create health or disease.”

Genomics is playing a major role in longevity research. Much of it is still in the early stages, but some findings can be translated to everyday life today.

One of the major gene families being examined by genomics experts is the sirtuin group of genes, with SIRT1 being especially prominent. “This gene is responsible for turning on, or off, many other genes important in biological systems associated with aging like oxidative stress, inflammation, glucose regulation, lipid metabolism, cell death, and more,” says Kline.

One of the best ways to activate this gene is through periodic fasting. “And you don’t have to be on a multi-day fasting regimen. Research has shown that something as simple as fasting for 12 hours overnight helps activate this gene. So does eating until you’re about 80 percent full, rather than feeling stuffed,” adds Kline.

Building a Healthy Brain Throughout Your Lifetime

Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life, rather than simply during the first few years of life, is also revolutionizing longevity and the way we view brain health.

“It was long thought the brain could not repair itself, that once it was injured or damaged by vascular disease, inflammation, or the beta-Amyloid of Alzheimer’s disease, that the trajectory of inevitable decline,” says Karyn Shanks, MD. An internist and founder and director of The Center for Medicine and Healing Arts in Iowa City, IA. “But now we know our brains are alive with the power of neuroplasticity. And that each and every cell has the inherent ability to recover, grow, and create new connections throughout our lifespan.”

Cognitive training appears to be the key to activating neuroplasticity, according to recent data 3. This training spans a wide range of activities from learning a new language, engaging in work and/or an active lifestyle, maintaining high literacy and challenging yourself to use your memory (for instance, remembering directions rather than relying on GPS).

Diet’s Impact in Boosting Brain Health & Longevity

Kline emphasizes that diet has also been found to play a major role in achieving healthy longevity and boosting brain health. Research agrees. Numerous studies indicate consuming antioxidants promotes lifespan extension.

One recent piece of research says the spice curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, has been well-studied for its anticancer properties, but now the spice has been found to increase the lifespan of animals. Researchers believe those results may translate to humans to promote long-term brain health and increase longevity.

Lace ‘em Up

Running has also recently been linked to increased longevity. A recent study published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease says those who run, walk and cycle enjoy a longer lifespan than those who don’t 4. However, running, was specifically connected to the largest increase in healthy longevity, adding three years to a person’s lifespan. The researchers conclude that every one-hour run adds about seven hours to your overall lifespan.  Home Care Assistance Denver



6 Ways to Help Seniors Stay Physically Active as They Age

As we age, remaining physically active can become more difficult and exercise seems as though it takes a greater toll on our bodies. In fact, those are precisely the reasons as to why it’s so important for seniors to continue exercising. There are tons of benefits in staying physically active as you age 1, from reduced blood pressure to lower stress levels and diminished symptoms of anxiety and depression. The amount of benefits from exercise can go on and on.

Below are some great ways to promote healthy aging through physical activity.

Starting Out

Low-Level Physical Activity

It may not seem like much, but even walking around the house can make a huge difference in heart health among aging adults. According to a Surgeon General Report from the Center for Disease Control 1, seniors who log any level of physical activity whatsoever markedly decrease their chance of heart attack and stroke. Cleaning the house, taking a stroll to the mailbox, and even walking from room to room are all low-level activities that make a big contribution toward heart and brain health.

Studies also show many seniors have trouble with the word “exercise.” As physical abilities begin to decline in their later years, aging adults see the concept of exercise to be an overwhelmingly tall task. Therefore, it may help to avoid the word altogether and opt for phrases such as “physical activity” or “being active.”

Setting Goals

In a stage of life where one’s mental health is not where it used to be, confidence boosters are a must. These confidence boosters are even more productive if they’re accomplished through physical activities. Encouraging seniors to set challenging, yet easily attainable goals is highly recommended. Objectives such as “standing for 30 minutes a day” or “walking to the corner and back” can eventually evolve into more involved physical goals.

Healthy Aging With Other Seniors

Senior Centers

In addition to stimulating brain and mental health, senior centers are one of the best resources you can find when it comes to keeping aging adults physically active 2. No matter where you are, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll find a local senior center nearby. Nearly 10 million older adults utilize senior centers each year.

These facilities not only offer volunteer programs and organize social outings, many offer exercise classes as well. It’s not uncommon for your local senior center to have trained staff on site available to teach aging adults yoga, Tai Chi, swimming, and general aerobics classes. Some centers have opportunities for seniors to learn how to line, ballroom, or even square dance, all of which are all great exercise options for seniors.

Senior-Friendly Sports

Sports that require manageable levels of physical exertion are perfect for aging adults. Golf is a great example of a fairly accessible sport that promotes healthy aging among seniors, especially if they’ve been playing that sport throughout their lives. Even if a senior decides to use a cart, the sport still requires a moderate level of walking on grass that’s perfect for seniors looking to get active. Bowling, a casual game of frisbee, or tossing a tennis ball around are smart options as well.


Fall Prevention

Every 11 seconds, a senior citizen is treated at the ER for a fall 3. Aging adults may be averse to the idea of physical activity because of a perceived likelihood of fall risk. In fact, physical activity and exercise can greatly prevent the risk of falls in seniors, as it heightens one’s agility and ability to react.

That being said, there are some precautions to take when choosing the best exercises for fall prevention. First of all, talk to a doctor. The doctor can help identity the certain health conditions that can increase the likelihood of falls, including eye and ear conditions 4. Medications and history of past falls can influence the probability of a future incident. In the event that a senior is more prone to falls, supervised water workouts are ideal.

Wearing the proper footwear is another safety tip for avoiding injury. Make sure the senior is wearing shoes that fit correctly and have proper tread. There are types of shoes that can decrease joint painas well, so consider shopping around for footwear that is both safe and practical for exercise.

Be Aware of the Senior’s Environment

Many hazards that affect exercises for seniors actually have nothing to do with the seniors themselves. When coming up with physical activities, be sure the aging adult’s surroundings are safe. If it’s an outdoor activity, watch out for holes or errant balls when near a sports field. Additionally, if the weather is excessively warm, consider taking the activity inside. It’s important to note, however, that there can be dangers indoors as well. Remove glass tables or surfaces like small rugs or objects floors that can easily be slipped and tripped upon.


Every bit of physical activity helps when it comes to healthy aging. Utilize local resources like senior centers, find an activity that piques the senior’s interest, and staying safe all contribute to a senior’s ability to enjoy life into their later years.

The Balanced Care Method™ seeks to help seniors start and maintain a healthy activity level. The Balanced Care Method™ is a holistic program that promotes healthy diet, physical exercise, mental stimulation, socialization and sense of purpose. The program was built on studies demonstrating that only one-third of our longevity is based on genetics and two-thirds on lifestyle factors within our control.

Home Care Assistance caregivers are trained in the Balanced Care Method, offering the first senior care solution with an emphasis on balance and longevity. By working with specific lifestyle behaviors, Home Care Assistance caregivers extend and enhance the lives of seniors, helping them live longer, happier, lives at home. Learn more about how the Balanced Care Method™ can help your aging loved one today.