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Health

What the Longevity Revolution Means for Women

A long life is something that many people aspire to. Ask a group of people if they would like to live to be 100 and the majority will raise their hands.

Longevity is the buzzword. Women already live on average six years longer than men and could easily exceed a hundred: more than 8 out of 10 centenarians are women.

But there is a dark side, according to Maddy Dychtwald, author of the new book published by Mayo Clinic Press: “Ageless Aging: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Healthspan, Brainspan, and Lifespan.”

Women do not fare as well as their male counterparts when it comes to the number of years they live in good health. “In the United States, on average, women spend the last 12 to 14 years in a cascade of health problems,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Here’s what Dychtwald recently told Yahoo Finance about why women need to take control for longer, happier lives, edited for length and clarity:

Maddy, why is this a women’s issue?

Women have truly won the longevity lottery. These are extra years to have purpose, joy, vitality, energy, but you must take control of your lifestyle and your environment. Women have the capacity to change the conversation about aging and make it more positive and empowering.

How do we do that?

It’s not just about one thing. Science tells us that diet really matters and that exercise can be the magic bullet to living better and longer. But it’s also about your sleep, your hormones, how you access the healthcare system, and most importantly, our finances, which most people don’t even think about when they think about living a healthy life .

These things all work together. They are not compartmentalized. If your financial situation is not in order, it creates stress, which creates health problems, which will send you down a rabbit hole in terms of health and well-being. And you may not have the financial means to afford the type of health care you need.

Maddy DychtwaldMaddy Dychtwald

If your financial situation is not in order, it creates stress, which creates health problems, which will send you down a rabbit hole in terms of health and well-being. (Photo provided by Maddy Dychtwald) (Carl Timpone/BFA.com)

Can you dig a little deeper into how financial anxiety can harm our health?

Any type of worry can create anxiety and high levels of cortisol in our system, which attacks your system in a very negative way. We’ve all had stage fright, and we’ve seen our blood pressure rise, for example, and maybe have heart palpitations. These are not good things for you when you worry about anything, but especially money.

For women, this is a huge problem because we haven’t done as good a job as men in terms of saving for retirement for many reasons, the wage gap being one, and we generally take our retire a few years earlier than men.

Even very wealthy women fear being left without money at the end of their lives. And this fear eats away at them and actually has an impact on their health.

What can women do to solve this problem?

The idea of ​​gaining financial knowledge and truly understanding the basics, available even online, is a start. Finding a trusted advisor is important, which is less easy to achieve. And then taking that knowledge and actually owning it so that you can be confident in your financial decision making.

By the way, when it comes to most of the things women do in terms of finances, like budgeting, we’re great and we’re very confident, but when it comes to investing, we we feel less confident.

Maddy, you said that women would rather talk about their own deaths than money. Can you elaborate?

When it comes to talking about their salary, the types of bonuses they seek, the types of promotions and their investments, women are much less willing to share this information than men.

We need to be open about it and talk about it very frankly, because when we do, we can probably feel a little better about our personal situation, and that can translate into overall well-being.

Aging without ageAging without age

Aging without age (Mayo Clinic Press)

Wealth equals well-being is a theme in your book. How so?

The word wealth has received a bad reputation. We think about wealth, and we think about entitlement, and we think about the super rich, rich men that are out there, just like they’re throwing them away. But the word comes from the Old English “weal,” meaning “wealth, well-being, and well-being.” In fact, money is all about well-being.

You write about different types of aging. Can you chat?

One of them is chronological aging. How many birthdays have you had? For example, I got 74, and that’s great. Then there’s emotional or psychological aging, and that’s the kind of aging we want to embrace. There are certain things that increase as you get older. One of them is your level of happiness and resilience. And besides, our anxiety levels seem to be decreasing, although I haven’t discovered it yet. These things are actually getting better. This is the positive side of aging, or the benefits of aging.

Then there is biological aging. We can’t stop time, but what we can do is influence some of the physical and biological changes that occur with aging by eating a healthier diet, exercising, and sleeping better. By changing our attitude toward aging, our own aging can add seven and a half years to our lives on average, according to a recent study. It’s a pretty amazing thing.

Could you talk a little about purpose and how work can help us discover our purpose?

Purpose is an essential ingredient of ageless aging. There is no doubt about it. Marc Freedman, the founder of Cogenerate, told me that there is a goal with a capital P and a goal with a small p. They are both essential and very important. So the goal with a capital P is if you’re going to start a nonprofit, or if you’re going to have a new career, or start a business, those are great goals. The same goes for giving your time to serve something that truly matters to you and is extremely passionate about.

Purpose with a small p is like riding a horse and going for a walk every day or walking my dog ​​in the morning. In one study, we asked people where they got the most utility. And the best way was to spend time with family.

It's never too late to take care of your health and well-being.  That means everything from your finances to how you eat and sleep to your exercise routine.  (Getty Creative)It's never too late to take care of your health and well-being.  That means everything from your finances to how you eat and sleep to your exercise routine.  (Getty Creative)

It’s never too late to take care of your health and well-being. That means everything from your finances to how you eat and sleep to your exercise routine. (Getty Creative) (Image source via Getty Images)

How can work make our aging process a smoother and happier time of our lives?

Working a little longer can not only give you a strong sense of purpose, but it can also work on many other levels. Having a little more income for a few more years can really make a difference in our lives, and it also gives us social connections. Loneliness is like smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s crazy.

Any parting thoughts?

For women, the big message is that it’s never too late to take care of your health and well-being. That means everything from your finances to how you eat and sleep to your exercise routine. Find an entry point. For me it was exercise because I found that when I walked 30 minutes a day I felt so much better. This motivated me to eat a little healthier. And then my sleep improved. I started spending more time with friends. I realized I can exercise, do it outside, do it with friends, and best of all, we can support each other in this process to live better, longer.

Kerry Hannon is a senior columnist at Yahoo Finance. She is a career and retirement strategist and author of 14 books, including “In control at 50 and over: how to succeed in the new world of work » and “Never too old to get rich.” Follow her on @kerryhannon.

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