It’s official: Americans are getting older, and we’re living longer, too. The 2000 U.S. Census reported that the number of individuals age 65 and over increased 12 percent between 1990 and 2000, with that age group comprising 12.4 percent of the total population. Here in Charleston County, individuals over 65 made up roughly 11.3 percent of the total population. In fact, although every state in the U.S. saw their older population grow from 1990-2000, the South, including South Carolina, and the West were the two regions that saw the biggest increases. The most rapid growth of those age 65+ occurred in the oldest age group, with a 38 percent increase in the 85+ population. And if you’re a man over the age of 85, you’ve got some great odds for picking up chicks: for every 100 women over age 85, there are a scant 41 men of the same age. Source: U.S. Census

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

The word “antioxidants” flies around like the latest Hollywood gossip, but few know what it actually means. The truth is that more antioxidants could mean lower chances of cancer and heart attack, as well as a slowdown of the aging process. Cell culture and animal studies have shown that eating foods high in antioxidants stabilizes molecules in the body known as “free radicals,” which have been linked to cancer. So here’s the secret to raising your antioxidant levels — go by color. The USDA recently released a study saying that the “purple berries” are some of the best providers. These include elderberries, black currants, and chokeberries. Well, not everyone has easy access to chokeberries, so here are some easier sources to come by, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation.

• Blueberries • Red wine (not white) • Sweet potatoes

Dried apricots • Peaches • Raw cabbage

Fortified milk

Let’s Do It

Let’s do it. No, not that — let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about how regular sexual activity is good for your health and helps fight old age. According to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, having sex three times a week for a year is equivalent to jogging 75 miles. That’s a lot of jogging. That’s also a large increase in overall energy. The Academy also says sex increases the supply of oxygen to cells and stimulates activity of various organ systems, raising that energy level again. The list of benefits goes on — reduction in joint pain and headaches, lower stress levels, increased satisfaction and relaxation. Besides pleasure and pain relief, sex can be just plain good for your health, especially aiding in age-related health issues. Regular sexual activity lowers cholesterol by balancing out the good-to-bad cholesterol ratio, releases the depression-preventing hormone DHEA, and ensures good prostate gland health.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and the first leading cause of preventable blindness. The disease can affect people of any age or race, but is especially common in the elderly, as well as African-Americans, Hispanics, and people with diabetes. EyeCare America promotes early detection and treatment of glaucoma and offers referrals for glaucoma eye exams to those at increased risk of the eye disease. Those eligible receive a quick and painless glaucoma eye exam and the initiation of treatment, if deemed necessary. Uninsured patients will receive the eye exam and care free of charge. There are over 21 participating doctors in the greater Charleston area. Call 1-800-391-EYES (3937) for more info.

So here’s the bottom line, and you might not like what you hear: fighting aging can’t be done in one easy step. As Dr. Jerry Reves, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the college of medicine at MUSC confirms, “There’s no one gene that gives the fountain of youth.” Sucks, doesn’t it? The good news is that a healthy combination of good skin care and diet and exercise can stop you from looking like great-aunt Mildred too early. It doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. Take 10 extra minutes in the morning and before you go to bed to thoroughly cleanse and add collagen-boosting cream to your facial regimen. Instead of chips as a snack, eat a peach or nosh on blueberries and light yogurt. The next step toward success is to make these choices a habit, because that’s the only way they’ll make a difference.



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