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18 Secrets for Living a Long, Happy, Healthy Life

Congratulations on waking up this morning! You’re continuing to age!

OK, aging may not sound like a reason to celebrate, but with some thought and planning, you can age gracefully and happily for years to come!

There are some specific things you can do to protect your physical and mental health — and safeguard your happiness for a lifetime.

  1. Get your recommended health screenings. This allows your health care providers to catch developing issues early — when you have the best chance for successful treatment.
  2. Get the recommended adult immunizations, such as the flu, pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations. Ask your health care provider what’s best for you.
  3. Take actions that improve your heart health.
  4. Take steps to limit your cancer risks.
  5. Quit smoking. Smokers have a higher risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Plus, it’s a really expensive dependency.
  6. Seek professional help for addictions to prescription drugs, alcohol, opioids or other illicit drugs. If you have this threat to your well-being, you can take your life back with help.

Given that leading causes of death include heart disease and cancer, you should pay special attention to recommendations 3, 4 and 5.


Maintaining Your Happiness

These suggestions from Kaiser Health News* apply to most everyone — and are especially appropriate for those of us who are fortunate enough to be aging.

  1. Accept your reality and limitations. Move forward from there.
  2. Don’t compare how you feel now to when you were younger.
  3. Focus on maximizing what you can do, not what you can’t.
  4. Prioritize the things that are truly important to you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  6. Plan your day around maximizing your energy.
  7. Be proactive and advocate for your own health care.
  8. Continue to exercise — even when you’re seated.
  9. Be grateful for the small things.
  10. Have a purpose in your life. Focus on your passions.
  11. Find a way — even a small way — to help others. Consider teaching or volunteering.
  12. Stay connected with friends and family. Get together with others at least once a week.


We want to highlight tip 18: Stay connected with friends and family.

A decades-long study, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, tracked a group of males starting in 1938 (the study group was all male because Harvard was all male then). The group included students at Harvard College (including a young John F. Kennedy) and boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.

Researchers checked in with the group every two years to conduct medical exams and interview the group and their families. What did they learn?

The study’s director, Robert Waldinger, says, “The clearest message that we get from this study is: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier!”

The study yielded three key takeaways:

  • Social connections are good for us. And loneliness kills.
  • It’s not the number of friends, but rather the quality of your closest relationships that matters.
  • Good relationships protect your health and also your brain. When you have relationships with good people you can count on in times of need, your memory tends to stay sharper longer.

So join a club that focuses on something you enjoy. Find volunteer opportunities that allow you to pursue your passions with others. Take classes to learn new things, or teach others about topics you’re knowledgeable about. Travel groups can help you develop great new friendships. Make a point to engage with others who share your interests.

Regardless of your age, whenever you have questions about the changes we go through with time, visit with your health care provider. You can make an appointment right now!

A growing area of medicine focuses on helping people maintain the highest possible quality of life throughout their lifetimes. The Aurora Center for Senior Health and Longevity is a great example of a team specializing in patient-focused comprehensive care.

Rather than frowning about aging, take heart. Research shows people often have the happiest years of their lives starting in their late 50s and after. Enjoy!


* Bruce Horovitz Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

Meet the Author

Paula Carlton, NP is a Nurse Practitioner at Aurora Health Center in West Bend, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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