The second point for healthy ageing is social interaction. This basically means a connection between two human beings who have a relationship and friendship. Many social studies have shown that people who are closer to their spouse and children, who have stronger bond with relatives and friends seem to be healthier and live longer. This could be due to the fact that humans are actually social beings and interaction with other humans probably have some influence on our mind and spirit.
The thousand centenarian study in Okinawa presented by Professor Suzuki at the World Congress in Healthy Ageing in Kuala Lumpur a few years ago, explained the importance of social interaction and bonding as one of the important components for their longevity. This centenarians were still looked up to by the society and were still respected. They also had close relationships both with family and friends.
The other interesting studies in longevity were those relating to long life and faith. These studies showed that people who believe in god or a higher power live longer than people who do not. I suppose this could be because this somehow involved the “spirit” part of us humans. Like a wise man said ‘we are spiritual beings having a human experience’. After reading this studies I started praying harder.
In his book “Life is Tremendous”, Tremendous Charlie wrote, you will exactly be the same as you are now and in five years except for the books you read and the friends you keep. Though it was more in the context of success especially financial success, I believe this also holds true in wellness and healthy ageing.
If we want to stay healthy, than the people who we surround ourselves with can either help us or can lead us the wrong way. Macho cries like ‘life is short so have fun’ or even ‘might as well be dying if we cannot enjoy’ can sometimes lead people up the wrong path towards disease instead of health. We cannot change our family but if we have friends that we feel might not be that encouraging towards wellness and health than we either have to help change them or if not make new friends. This might sound harsh but if you are serious about your health than this is important.
Also learn to read books and health related articles. However make sure they are from a reputable source.
Remember our health is in our hands. The choice is ours. I see a lot of regrets later on in life. People who have done very well in all areas of their life except health. It is not just premature death but sometimes the chronic suffering and disability which is worst.
Dato Dr Rajbans Singh is the Malaysian Wellness Society president and Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur consultant physician and geriatrician. He can be contacted at drrajbans.com.