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Four key factors that can improve your quality of life as you age

When it comes to aging, Americans harbor plenty of concerns.

Going broke. Succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease. Spending the final lonely years in a nursing home.

But there’s no need to think that grey hair and wrinkles automatically translate to a dreary existence.

“There are a number of things people can do right now that will increase the odds that their senior years will be healthy, productive and rewarding,” says Chris Orestis, a senior-care advocate and author of the books “Help on the Way” and “A Survival Guide to Aging.”

Orestis, CEO of Life Care Funding (www.lifecarefunding.com), has for years worked with families to help them afford the costs of long-term care, something that about 70 percent of people over 65 eventually need.

But he says it’s also important to help seniors and their families make the most of what should be the best years of their lives.

A healthy diet and exercise are two of the better known ingredients for improving the chances you’ll lead a long and fruitful life. Others include:

• Attitude. Life hands everyone challenges, but it’s how you deal with those challenges that makes the difference. “Keeping a positive attitude is important,” Orestis says. “Do you approach each day with zeal or with dread? Are you active or sedentary? It’s critical to live life with a purpose because it will make you strive to be healthy of mind, body and in your attitude.”
• Adaptability. People change as they age and so does the world around them. “You need to be prepared to manage a whole host of changes in a positive way,” Orestis says. “Your body changes. Your mind changes. There are changes in your career, in the community you live in and in the technology we all use every day.” Those who do the best job of adapting are the ones most likely to thrive, he says.
• Relationships. People who nurture relationships are more likely to live higher-quality lifestyles. “As we age, relationships will change and it’s important to stay engaged, whether in person or from afar,” Orestis says. “We also need to build new relationships throughout our lives.”
• Activities. Filling your time with activities – coaching a youth soccer team, learning guitar, traveling – can help give you a more meaningful and healthy life. “One of the keys to people who live long lives is that their life continued to have meaning,” Orestis says. “Hobbies, volunteer work, learning new skills or getting more involved with your family are all paths to an active and meaningful life.”

“Aging shouldn’t be a one-way ticket to poor health, loneliness, boredom and a declining quality of life,” he says. “The key to enjoying a long and fulfilling life is in your own hands.”