News Search

Healthy Aging Awareness Month: Improving the health of older adults

Jackson Parnell joins his mother, Brandy Parnell, in a cool-down stretch during the first Mommy and Me Yoga class Aug. 29, 2016, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The instructor incorporated nontraditional names for poses to keep the young children more engaged, as well as created an environment to promote a deeper mother-to-child bond. (U.S. Air Force 
photo/ Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Jackson Parnell joins his mother, Brandy Parnell, in a cool-down stretch during the first Mommy and Me Yoga class Aug. 29, 2016, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The instructor incorporated nontraditional names for poses to keep the young children more engaged, as well as created an environment to promote a deeper mother-to-child bond. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Maj. Thomas Reynolds, 86th Dental Squadron general dentist, examine the teeth of a patient July 1, 2016, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.  The clinic sees more than 250 patients a day from across the Kaiserslautern Military Community. Not only do they ensure the dental health of those within the local area but also those at 250 geographically separated units. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

Maj. Thomas Reynolds, 86th Dental Squadron general dentist, examine the teeth of a patient July 1, 2016, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The clinic sees more than 250 patients a day from across the Kaiserslautern Military Community. Not only do they ensure the dental health of those within the local area but also those at 250 geographically separated units. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Keim)

Senior Airman Corinthian Maldonado, 86th Airlift Wing commander executive administrator, climbs a hill of tires at the Mudless Mudder on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 8, 2016. More than 550 participants competed in the five-kilometer obstacle course for the 86th AW Resiliency Day. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Nesha Humes)

Senior Airman Corinthian Maldonado, 86th Airlift Wing commander executive administrator, climbs a hill of tires at the Mudless Mudder at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 8, 2016. More than 550 participants competed in the five-kilometer obstacle course for the 86th AW resiliency day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nesha Humes)

A suicide prevention fair was held Sept. 22, 2016, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 86th Medical Group hosted the event to help bring awareness to the community that people have options when it comes to suicide prevention, and to let them know that they are not alone.

A suicide prevention fair was held Sept. 22, 2016, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 86th Medical Group hosted the event to help bring awareness to the community that people have options when it comes to suicide prevention, and to let them know that they are not alone. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Willie Williams, 86th Medical Support Squadron laboratory NCO in charge, instructs a Zumba class held to raise awareness for domestic violence at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 14, 2016. Williams and two other instructors led a group of approximately 35 people through a series of Zumba dance exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Master Sgt. Willie Williams, 86th Medical Support Squadron laboratory noncommissioned officer in charge, instructs a Zumba class held to raise awareness for domestic violence at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Oct. 14, 2016. Williams and two other instructors led a group of approximately 35 people through a series of Zumba dance exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Airman 1st Class Nikko Madarang, 721st Aerial Port Squadron passenger service specialist, balances on one leg and squats during an exercise June 1, 2017, on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. June is Men’s Health Month, and is used to heighten awareness of preventable health problems in men and boys, as well as encourage early treatment of disease. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

Airman 1st Class Nikko Madarang, 721st Aerial Port Squadron passenger service specialist, balances on one leg and squats during an exercise June 1, 2017, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. June is Men’s Health Month, and is used to heighten awareness of preventable health problems in men and boys, as well as encourage early treatment of disease. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

The 86th Medical Squadron Landstuhl Regional Medical Center's Battle of the Battleships team, the "Purple Parrots," race their homemade "battleship" at the Ramstein Aquatic Center on Ramstein Air Base, May 19, 2017. Teams of Airmen assigned to various squadrons designed and built "battleships" out of cardboard and duct tape, which they used to compete for aquatic superiority. The 86th Force Support Squadron Ramstein Aquatic Center hosts Battle of the Battleships annually to foster community and morale in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

The 86th Medical Squadron Landstuhl Regional Medical Center's Battle of the Battleships team, the "Purple Parrots," race their homemade "battleship" at the Ramstein Aquatic Center on Ramstein Air Base, May 19, 2017. Teams of Airmen assigned to various squadrons designed and built "battleships" out of cardboard and duct tape, which they used to compete for aquatic superiority. The 86th Force Support Squadron Ramstein Aquatic Center hosts Battle of the Battleships annually to foster community and morale in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

Airman 1st Class Matthew Murray, 1st Air and Space Communications Operations Squadron intelligence network infrastructure technician, performs a pushup during a unit physical training session on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 14, 2017. As the 1 ACOS tries to complete 435,000 pushups by June 2018, the unit counts pushups that are performed during PT sessions, physical fitness assessments, and random pushups as long as another Airmen is present to verify the number done. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Airman 1st Class Matthew Murray, 1st Air and Space Communications Operations Squadron intelligence network infrastructure technician, performs a pushup during a unit physical training session at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 14, 2017. As the 1st ACOS tries to complete 435,000 pushups by June 2018, the unit counts pushups that are performed during PT sessions, physical fitness assessments, and random pushups as long as another Airmen is present to verify the number done. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

The winners of the Second Annual Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Paul Airey Memorial 10K ruck, charge for the finish line on Ramstein Air Base, June 2, 2017. Teams from various squadrons in the Kaiserslautern Military Community area took on the 10K ruck march challenge. Participants were allowed to walk or run but they had to be in uniform and carry 25lb rucks, or backpacks, from start to finish. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker)

The winners of the Second Annual Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Paul Airey Memorial 10K ruck, charge for the finish line at Ramstein Air Base, June 2, 2017. Teams from various squadrons in the Kaiserslautern military community area took on the 10K ruck march challenge. Participants were allowed to walk or run but they had to be in uniform and carry 25lb rucks, or backpacks, from start to finish. (U.S. Air Force photoby Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Health plays a huge part in how we experience life, and determining current health situations can help lead to a longer and happier life. But what about healthy aging?

“I think the key to healthy aging is listening to your body,” said Airman 1st Class Randal Marks, 86th Medical Support Squadron medical laboratory technician and frequent gym-goer. “A healthy metabolism, immune system, energy levels and even mental health will promote healthy aging, which aims to extend one's healthy life expectancy. What makes it so important is, if you don't listen to your body and ignore signs and symptoms, it can cost you your life.”

As Americans live longer, growth in the number of older adults is unprecedented. In 2014, 14.5 percent (46.3 million) of the U.S. population was aged 65 or older and is projected to reach 23.5 percent (98 million) by 2060, said Sandra Colby and Jennifer Ortman, authors of Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060.

“We tend to think about five years ahead, rather than 30 years from now,” said Staff Sgt. Alexandria Hoper-Leandry, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron outbound cargo noncommissioned officer in charge.

There is an organization called Healthy People, which provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Increasing the proportion of older adults who are up-to-date on a core set of clinical preventive services, increasing the proportion of the health care workforce with geriatric certification, and other goals are a part of Healthy People 2020’s initiative.

“Feeling, looking, and performing the age that you actually are is aging gracefully,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Maze, 786th Civil Engineer Squadron structural craftsman. “You don’t want to be 30 and physically feel 50.”

Improving the health, function, and quality of life of older adults are specifically Healthy People goals, but it’s one that everyone should be aware of.

Physical activity can help prevent disease and injury. However, fewer than 60 percent of older adults engage in physical activity and strength training, according to the Institute of Medicine, Committee on the Future Health Care Workforce for Older Americans, and Board on Health Care Services in Retooling for an aging America.

Some common chronic conditions include heart disease, cancer, and diabetes mellitus, the chances for which increase when the aging process isn’t healthy.

Emerging issues in the health of older adults are person-centered care-planning, monitoring of health conditions, fair pay and compensation standards for formal and informal caregivers, minimum levels of geriatric training for health professionals and enhanced data on certain subpopulations of older adults.

“The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” said Capt. Miriam Seville, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron nutrition program coordinator. “But how do we achieve this as we age? It requires reducing stress whenever possible, eating the healthiest foods most of the time, being physically active on a regular basis, and engaging in a variety of positive social activities that add value to our lives, as well as to the lives of those around us.”