Most people think longevity is a matter of lifespan. Makes sense, right? If you’re living long, you must be living good. Well, like many things in life, the true answer is… complicated.
On its surface level, it’s easy to say that longevity is just another synonym for life expectancy. The reality, however, is that there’s a lot more to longevity than what you might initially think.
First, there’s the fact that modern medicine and diet has already brought up our lifespan considerably. However, we're also spending a lot more time in hospitals and hospice. As it turns out, those extra years don't really mean anything -- the reality of our extra years is that they're spent in fragile treatments and therapies. Because of this, longevity isn't just lifespan.
Instead, we need to bring healthspan into the equation. Healthspan is the time we are healthy. This creates a much greater goal, but also a more difficult challenge. Because of this, we see longevity as the combination of healthspan and lifespan.
Secondly, there’s a lot of different types of longevity “health”. When we think of the word health, we typically think physical health; staying cancer-free, being able to move around adequately, etc. However, there are two other often neglected parts of longevity health: mental longevity and financial longevity.
Just as there are diseases like cancer and Parkinson’s that deteriorate the body over time, there are diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s that deteriorate the mind. A somewhat troubling fact is that physical longevity strategies that work well at keeping physical deterioration at bay don’t always help to defend against mental deterioration. Because of this, some alternate strategies are needed.
Here at Shanah, we use three main tactics to improve mental healthspan: mindfulness, memory, and social strength. Mindfulness doesn’t just include meditation, but also other known benefactors to mental longevity such as an optimistic growth mindset. Memory is both about learning new skills as well as retaining old ones. Finally, social strength is tied to the inherent importance of social relationships when it comes to a person’s healthspan.
Next, we move into financial longevity. This one might trip people up, if you aren’t thinking carefully. After all, what the hell does money have to do with lifespan, beyond being able to pay for more expensive treatments?
Well, when we consider living a long time, we need to consider all the factors that go into it. Healthy body? Check. Stable mind? Check. A place to live, food to eat, fun to have…?
As it turns out, living an extra 20 years can be quite expensive! This is where financial longevity really comes into play. I imagine it’s preferable to not be working those extra healthy years, and so you’ll need to make some strides in investments and saving in order to hit that.
So, hopefully now you realize that there’s a much more expansive definition of longevity, that exists in three main aspects: physical, mental, and financial.
Want to learn more about these three aspects of longevity? For a limited time, we’re giving a free guide on this topic to whoever signs up for our mailing list! You can learn more here.