"You can be one of those people who live in the past and relive the glory days, but I'm living the best days of my life now," said Bill, a police chief, father of four children and grandfather of two grandchildren.
Bill isn't living without obstacles. He has experienced a number of orthopedic injuries and health setbacks during his 42-year career in law enforcement in Foxborough, Mass., and he is not alone. In fact, four out of five Americans ages 50 and older suffer from at least one chronic health condition, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity or respiratory disease.
As we get older, health setbacks are a growing concern. In a new survey by Clarus Research and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), adults ages 50 and older shared their biggest fears, and not surprisingly, a health setback was ranked highest (39 percent), followed by being a burden on their family (21 percent).
Fortunately, the survey found that respondents are addressing their fears and prioritizing accordingly. More than half (58 percent) of survey participants ranked remaining in good health a top priority as they age. Like Bill, they are motivated to stay healthy in order to live their best life. Top motivators for staying healthy and active are being able to stay independent (72 percent), travel (57 percent) and spend time with children or grandchildren (45 percent).
The survey also revealed that adults ages 50 and older are still looking for romance. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of adults ages 56-65 say going on dates or having romantic evenings highly motivates them to stay healthy and active.
So how do adults ages 50 and older live their best life? Helen and Byron, a couple from Santa Clarita, Calif., believe they have the answer to a long, healthy, happy life. And it starts with good nutrition and a positive, "can do" attitude.
Our tastes change as we age, and so do our nutrition needs. Foods that fueled our 30-year-old bodies may not be absorbed and used the same way 20 years later. While nutrient-dense foods are important for people of any age, adults ages 50 and older should put an increased focus on eating foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein like seafood, lean meats, eggs and nuts.
Making good nutrition choices a priority helps you maintain muscle and gives your body a "nutritional reserve" in the event of an injury or sickness. However, often in the case of a health setback, your body doesn't get enough of the nutrients it needs to recover, which can cause further breakdown of muscle tissue.
And, when diet alone does not sufficiently provide the nutrition needed, a nutritional drink can help support strength and energy needs, whether you're recovering from an injury or enjoying everyday activities.
Of course, strength and nutrition are only part of the equation for living a full life.
A "can do" attitude
"Stay positive." You've heard it a thousand times, but research indicates this could be a crucial piece to a long and healthy life.
In the same survey from Abbott and ICAA, nearly all respondents (97 percent) said that they believe a positive attitude can add years to their life, and 98 percent said that a positive attitude was important in their recovery from a health setback. These beliefs are backed by science. In a 2016 study of 4,000 adults ages 50 and older, researchers identified that people with a positive outlook on aging have lower levels of c-reactive protein in the body, a marker of stress-related inflammation. This helps explain why people with a positive outlook live seven and a half years longer than people with negative outlooks.
An injury, health setback or just the simple act of aging can make you think you have to slow down or sit on the sidelines. However, many Boomers - like Bill, Helen and Byron - are challenging these antiquated notions and attitudes about aging and are not letting setbacks or their age define them.
"Whether you're moving to a new city, keeping up with grandchildren or taking on a new part-time job in retirement, a positive attitude coupled with proper nutrition and an active lifestyle can open a whole new world of possibilities you might not have imagined when you were younger," said Colin Milner, CEO and Founder, ICAA.
Whatever obstacles you face, whatever dreams you have, there are plenty of other people out there who have taken steps to living their best lives by saying, "I can," instead of, "I can't."