Just a few days ago, a dear friend of ours past to her rest at age 94. She was an incredible lady with a zest for life and and a love for other people. It is hard to believe that just a month ago she was driving her own vehicle on her errands, and living remarkably well in her own house!
On the other hand, we also know individuals who have suffered increasing disability over a span of many years. Their quality of life has continued to deteriorate over their lifespan.
One of the concerns of scientists has been that people with low health risks tend to live longer than those with higher health risks.
But does this longevity bring greater disability along with it?
Stanford University researchers studied 1741 individuals from 1962 through 1994. They discovered that people with high health risks (smoking, high body mass index [BMI], and unhealthy exercise patterns) had twice the disability of those with low health risks. Furthermore, the onset of disability was postponed by more than five years in the low-risk group.
Good health habits not only increase the life span, they also postpone disability! The graph above depicts this substantial benefit. The red line represents the functional capacity over the lifetime of those who have a high-risk lifestyle. The green line shows how life is “squared off” by choosing a low-risk lifestyle–the the typical disabilities of the elderly are compressed into only a few years at the end of life.
The solid red area demonstrates that while those with a high-risk lifestyle may live a good many years, those years can be called “impaired survival.” Quality of life diminishes as disability increases.
So, tell me, which way are you interested in living? Are you living a high or low health risk lifestyle? It will make a huge difference in your quality of life for years to come!