Cultivating Healthy Aging

At Lamorinda Village, the focus is not on “Lifespan” but on Healthspan.”  The goal is to use Healthy Aging not just to obtain a longer life but richer, more rewarding, more satisfying later years.

Healthy Aging encourages adding, deleting or modifying personal behaviors in order to encourage the prevention or alleviation of health issues even before they appear. The idea is to prevent them from appearing in the first place or at least reduce their severity when they do appear. Adopting appropriate behaviors is important since researchers have determined that behaviors as opposed to genetics can determine as much as 93 % of the effect on longevity. 

Researchers have categorized behaviors affecting Healthy Aging as either (1) physical behaviors, (2) cognitive behaviors, or (3) mental health/ emotional behaviors. Healthy Aging is enhanced when all three are integrated and treated as a whole rather than individually.  It isn’t Healthy Aging if you are cognitively robust but physically sedentary or you are physically robust but mentally depressed and emotionally fragile. 

Lamorinda Village looks to research and best practices to create and refine programs and activities. Researchers, for example, have analyzed the commonalities of the 6 “Blue Zones”- worldwide locations with the greatest number of residents over 100 years in age and where residents live the longest- and have found that the single most important commonality is that the residents all exercise, eat nutritious diets and are not obese. This research is part of a stream that guides and informs our programs.

Thanks to the research of neurologists and neuroscientists, an entire industry has blossomed to include games and learning methodologies that enhance our memory and retention of information and that may even delay dementia. At Lamorinda Village, a group of members have begun group sessions to help with retention and faster processing of numbers and words, an activity benefitting all age groups that is not only helpful with memory, but which also provides a social activity for a growing number of participants.

At Lamorinda Village, we are fortunate to have Jim Scala, a professional nutritionist, lead over 20 male and female “regular” walkers on a walk around the 2.75-mile path of The Lafayette Reservoir. Rain or shine, the group of 20 walkers, varying in age from 60-93, engages in discussion and completes the 55- 60 minute walk every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings from 9 AM to 10 AM; thus meeting the recommended 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise. Guess what: None of the regular walkers are obese. 

As one of the “Regulars,” I’ve exercised my cognitive needs while walking in discussions with Jim about nutrition and issues such as a loss of muscle mass. Other discussions I’ve enjoyed include many with Dr. Prasad Palakurthy, cardiologist and Lamorinda Village’s volunteer coach on meditation and his online yoga classes; again, enriching my own cognitive needs. As a bonus I also boost my emotional and social engagement through exposure to some of the nicest and most interesting group of fellow walkers from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds.