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Japan leads the way in healthy aging

December 19, 2013

Senior living is much different than it was in generations past, and nowhere is that more true than in Japan. The over-65 population in the Land of the Rising Sun is a perfect example of a healthy lifestyle for seniors, and it would be wise for older adults in the U.S. to take a page out of their book, CNN reported.

One of the most telling figures from Japan is that about one in five seniors finds themselves employed, and it's often not just for purely monetary reasons. Although some cite financial concerns as the cause for their continued employment, many seniors say that the common retirement route was unfulfilling. This trend has manifested itself in a number of unusual ways, including the Pom Pom Grannies, a cheerleading squad comprised of members with an average age of 67. Others, such as 99-year-old Mieko Nagaoka, turn to competitive sports to stay active. Nagaoka is an avid swimmer and still looks to push herself. 

"I don't care about my age," she told CNN. "I can't believe I'm 99. I still feel I like challenging everything."

The lessons gleaned from looking at Japan's example are easy to apply to senior living. While not all retirees have to keep working, regular exercise and mental engagements will certainly help older adults enjoy the benefits of healthy aging. In fact, a study released earlier this year said engaging in mental and physical challenges may be some of the best ways for seniors to stay healthy. The findings, which come from the University of California, San Francisco, found that seniors who took part in mentally stimulating activities that engaged their bodies - such as gardening - enjoyed better cognitive function.