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Youth'n Rebrands Modern Maturity
Your Age in Neo-Years
David J. Demko, PhD, Clinical Gerontologist, is a member of PLATFORM®
Demko How old are you? Nothing strikes more fear into the hearts of Baby Boomers than that seemingly innocent question. Except for those times when everyone finally stops bothering to ask, and just assumes the worst. Like the sales clerk in the optical outlet store who just assumes that you're looking for something in a bifocal lens.

That's it. Birthdays aren't anything to celebrate anymore. At least until you reach the ripe old age of 100. Then, you start bragging about your age. Like the old-timer who takes delight in asking every stranger to "guess my age".

If you're coming down with a bad case of Age Anxiety, here's some good news. Seventy-five percent of human aging can be self-regulated. But what exactly does one regulate? Granted, heredity plays a key role. But at least six lifestyle factors also regulate aging.

1. Genetic Inheritance is a major factor in determining one's aging potential. Family case histories confirm that individuals inherit a predisposition to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis. The key word here is "predispose". Heredity only increases one's odds, and preventive health measures reduce those odds.

2. Physical Activity is an equally important age-regulator. Aerobic exercise maintains the cardiovas-cular system, strengthens muscles and bones, and enhances coordination. Exercise lays the foundation for an active lifestyle. In fact, many of the common aches and pains attributed to "aging" are the result of inactivity.

3. Mental Stimulation keeps the mind alert, aids in problem-solving, and improves learning skills. So be sure to exercise your mind by enrolling in a course, learning another language, reading a good book, solving a crossword puzzle, or engaging in a stimulating debate or lively discussion. You will notice the difference.

4. Dietary Habits are one of the best ways to combat premature aging and ward-off disease. If you feel tired, run-down, or just plain unenthusiastic, you're not alone. Many adults feel that way because of faulty dietary habits. Food is energy. Get what you need. Don't skip meals. Learn about healthy diets, vitamins, and minerals.

5. A Meaningful Life, sometimes called a sense of purpose, can inspire you to get up, dressed, and out each day. Setting goals and pursuing them is a great way to keep a focus on, and interest in, the world around you. That focus helps keep the boredom of retirement at bay. Productive outlets raise self-esteem and reduce irritability.

6. Preventive Healthcare is a great age-regulator. Be sure to get regular check-ups in order to catch problems early-on. Don't just assume that any ache, pain, or medical problem is the result of aging. Check it out.

IF aging is more than meets the eye, then some changes are in order. And changing the way we calculate a person's "age" is the place to start. When you think about it, the number of years lived (one's Chronological Age) is a poor estimate of a person's real potential.

What can age, alone, tell you about a person's potential for holding a job, driving a car, applying to college, starting a new business, or anything for that matter. For example, we've all seen the vigorous 70 year old, like a mountain climber or distance runner. And, we've no doubt witnessed the 55 year-old who is "falling apart".

That's why a single statistic, like chronological age, isn't very telling. Do 80 birthdays make a person 80 years old? What about health, activity level, and coping skills? A more accurate picture of Age considers the many types of aging, like the types below.

  • Chronological Age
    refers to the number of years lived.
    It is a count of the number of birthdays celebrated.
  • Anatomical Age
    refers to the status of one's physical health:
    strength, endurance, coordination, vital signs.
  • Social Age
    refers to the activity level engaged in on a day-to-day basis:
    work, family, recreation, and volunteer.
  • Emotional Age
    refers to the ability to cope:
    handle trauma, reduce stress, manage conflict, and adapt to change.

DNA- plus is my formula for re-calculating a person's age in a way that takes these four "Ages" into account. Here's how. All four "Ages" are totaled. That total is divided by 4 to compute an average "Age". This average is called Neo-years.

Here's my formula.
In the formula,
"C" refers to Chronological Age,
"A" refers to Anatomical Age,
"S" refers to Social Age,
"E" refers to Emotional Age.

Now, let's apply the formula to a person who has lived eighty years (Chronological age), and assume that this 80 year-old has the following characteristics: the health status of a 70 year-old (Anatomical Age), the activity level of a 60 year-old (Social Age), and the coping skills of a 50 year-old (Emotional Age). Here's how the age of an 80 year-old might be re-calculated into 65 Neo-years.

Chronological Age (number of years lived) = 80 years.
Anatomical hAge (health status equals that of 70 year old) = 70 years.
Social Age (activity level equals that of 60 year-old) = 60 years.
Emotional Age (coping skills equals that of 50 year-old) = 50 years.

DNA-plus = ( 80 + 70 + 60 + 50 ) divided by 4 = 65 Neo-years.

In the above case, age 80 re-calculates to 65.
But, another 80 year-old (depending on health, activity level, coping) might compute to a higher age in Neo-years.

DNA-plus is an acronym for Demko's Neo-Age formula. The "plus" refers to positive Aging. How old are you? In Neo-years, that is. You just might be pleasantly surprised. Why not develop a whole new, positive approach to later life? Learn to take control of your aging process, and stay younger longer.