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(BPT) - What will your life be like when you turn 100? A century ago the question seemed almost flippant, a needless consideration for most people, but today it's very real. The percentage of people living to 100 has grown almost 66 percent in the last 30 years, according to U.S. News and World Report.
The MDVIP Health and Longevity Survey reveals that more than half of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers want to live past the age of 90. More than a quarter want to live beyond 100. The majority from both generations also believe advances in science and technology are going to keep more people alive past the age of 100.
However, these findings come at a time when the life expectancy of Americans has declined for the first time in two decades and one in two adults is living with at least one chronic disease.
"To reach their longevity goals, Americans can no longer afford to put their health on the back burner," says Dr. Andrea Klemes, chief medical officer at MDVIP. "Most people don't wait until they're 60 to start saving for retirement. The same should go for their health, where making small investments today can pay big dividends many years down the road."
Many chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, are preventable through simple lifestyle changes. Still, nearly two out of three Boomers and Gen Xers admit they could be doing a better job of exercising regularly, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight.
The key to greater longevity is prioritizing your health now — when you’re well — to prevent problems later on. Whether you’re age 38 or 68, arm yourself with the right knowledge and tools to set realistic health goals and help you stay on track to achieving them.
You can start today by asking three questions:
What's your number?
When’s the last time you had your blood pressure or cholesterol levels checked? Maintain a current record of your vitals and lab results along with your family history. Make sure you discuss these details with your doctor, who can help identify your risk for certain conditions and suggest lifestyle changes based on the results.
For example, if you know you have pre-diabetes or are at a moderate risk for developing heart disease, you can work with your doctor on modifying your diet and increasing your physical activity. These data points serve as an important guide in managing your health and can be the difference between preventing an issue and treating it.
What's up, doc?
Going to the doctor is an essential component of maintaining good health but choosing the right doctor directly affects the benefit of each visit. Surprisingly, the survey revealed that one out of three Gen Xers avoid going to the doctor out of fear of finding something wrong.
It’s important to find a primary care doctor you trust, who makes you feel at ease and takes the time to know you and your medical history.
“Having Dr. Gassner on my side has been the best medicine,” says Rose Demitrack, a 101-year-old patient of MDVIP-affiliated physician Dr. Lawrence Gassner in Phoenix, Arizona. “He spends time with me and makes sure I’m doing the right things. Plus he always makes me laugh, which is one secret to staying young. I may be older than most, but I still feel young on the inside.”
In the current healthcare environment, an appointment with a doctor is usually scheduled weeks in advance, and after a long wait in the waiting room, patients often feel rushed through the visit. Patients deserve better and you should shop around for a doctor whose goal is to build a relationship and keep you well.
What's the plan?
Whether your goal is to lose 10 pounds or to lower your blood pressure, you need a plan to get you there. “I tell my patients to think of it as a business plan for their health,” says Dr. Steven Wilson, an MDVIP-affiliated family practitioner in Redlands, California. “First determine your health goals and make them the focus of your attention. Discuss your goals with your doctor who can help you formulate a health plan for the next year and beyond.”
Once you have your plan established, it's up to you to execute it. Many people don't stick with a plan because it's hard to stay disciplined and easy to fall back into old habits. So don't be afraid to consult your doctor along the way. Your doctor is your partner in your health journey, and working together could give you a better chance at seeing exactly what your life will be like when you reach 100.
To learn more about MDVIP's national network of more than 900 primary care physicians who deliver personalized care with an emphasis on prevention and a close doctor-patient relationship, visit MDVIP.com.