Longevity Expert Reveals What You're Doing Wrong Over 50

Turning 50 used to be a dreaded milestone, with people thinking it was "over the hill." These days, people over 50 are embracing their age. In an interview on the BBC's Woman's Hour, Helena Bonham Carter says she's much happier now than she was years ago. According to the National Institutes of Health, we're also living 25 years longer than we were 100 years ago.

How can we live those extra years well? In an interview with Health Digest, gerontology expert Erin Blakely, who's a licensed nursing home administrator with more than 17 years in the healthcare industry, gives us her advice on what we might be missing out on in terms of our longevity.

Her first suggestion is to get regular checkups from your doctor and get proper treatments when necessary. Although we might be too busy or too stressed to go to a doctor, especially when we're feeling fine, a visit to your doctor can help them look for any potential warning signs. This will help detect any health issues early, so that treatment will be more effective, and further complications can be prevented.

"When on an airplane, you must always put your oxygen mask on first before helping others," Blakely said. "Checkups are the same way. You must invest and prioritize yourself so you can be healthy for your loved ones as you age."

It's important to stay mentally active and healthy

Blakely says that our daily routines don't often challenge our brains. To prevent cognitive decline, we need to find ways for our minds to get a workout. Even though we're always told to limit our screen time, Blakely says we can use technology to our advantage.

"[Technology] is continually changing and advancing which means it's easy for people over 50 to get left behind if they don't stay informed about what's new in their industry or field of interest," she said. She suggests taking online classes or seminars.

She also recommends hobbies such as golf to keep the mind engaged. "In golf, you have to know your golf club distances to get your ball in the hole ideally," she said. "You also have to count your strokes. Your mind and body will definitely get a workout!"

Trying new activities and adopting a hobby or two as we get older also helps with our mental health. "Depression rates among seniors are rising as more people live longer lives than ever before, and many feel lonely or isolated due to a lack of social interaction with friends and family members who have passed away or moved away from hometowns where they used to live together years ago," Blakely said. It's important to not overlook your mental health.

Don't forget to exercise and eat healthy

A big mistake that many people make is forgetting to exercise. Exercise is an important element for longevity, Blakely said. Physical activity helps maintain your strength, balance, and coordination as you age. If you're over 50 and not exercising, it's not too late to start.

"Start walking a few times a week or look into low-impact exercises like golf or yoga that will help you stay fit without putting too much strain on your body. Exercise is not only physically good for you, but it can create socialization opportunities and ways to meet people," she said. This is important, as a review of 148 studies found that people with stronger social connections have higher rates of survival.

Our metabolism slows down as we age, so Blakely said a healthy diet is critical for longevity. She suggests a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fat while avoiding sugary drinks. Instead, drink plenty of water.

"Eating well and in moderation can enhance your quality of life," says Blakely. She adds that you should see a doctor or a registered dietitian for personalized advice for your specific situation.