Gateway lecture series looks at healthy aging

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HURON – The Gateway Center of Excellence in Rural Health recently hosted Fabulous at Every Age: Healthy Aging, its 25th Virtual Lecture Series Event.

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The Tuesday, June 20, lecture featured speaker Dr. Alexandrea Peel of Royal Oaks Health and Wellness Center and chair of Rural Senior Care at Gateway CERH. The lecture was moderated by student research assistant Sage Milne and featured panelist Kathy Scanlon, executive director at One Care, a not-for-profit health organization that provides support for seniors and older adults in Huron and Perth counties.

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Dianne Fox, a retired registered nurse who worked with Peel at Alexandra Marine & General Hospital, and Dan Stringer, a retired pharmacist and chair of the board of directors of Gateway CERH, contributed to the panel.

Peel defined healthy aging, introduced factors associated with healthy aging, and talked through practical things one can do to age well. She started with the fact that 25 to 30 per cent of our lifespan is determined by our genetic makeup, while the other 70 to 75 per cent is defined by our life choices.

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This means we have control over our longevity through our daily decisions, she said. Peel focused on topics surrounding decision-making about exercise, diet, sleep, attitude, social connectedness, smoking and being a lifelong learner. Peel’s facts were backed by scientific research and simplified so that anyone could learn something valuable.

Peel reported an interesting result from a study about attitude, where 600 Americans were surveyed for their agreement on different statements regarding aging.

An example of a statement they used was: “How useful are you as you get older?”

The researchers followed these people over 23 years after recording their responses and found that people who answered positively to many of the statements lived 7.5 years longer on average than people who answered negatively about these statements.

Peel said many people believe they can’t change their attitude, but you can state literature and scientific facts.

You can join the next Gateway Rural Health Lecture on Sept. 12 by registering at the Gateway website. In this lecture, Gateway CERH team members Nancy Simpson and Sage Milne will discuss the Cultivating Memories project.

Gateway CERH is a not-for-profit organization with charitable status. To donate, or for more information, visit www.gatewayruralhealth.ca.

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