CHHS Dean Talks Healthy Aging with Rotary Club

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

College of Health and Human Services Dean Nancy Fey-Yensan recently discussed healthy aging with the Rotary Club of Charlotte. Rotary club member George MacBain attended the event and wrote the following report, republished here with permission. It has been edited for length and format.

In her role as a nutrition researcher, Dean Fey-Yensan served as the panel manager for the USDA’s National Research Initiative on Human Nutrition and Obesity and in that same role for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative at National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Our individual aging process and how long we will live is determined genetically and biologically, Fey-Yensan said.

She shared that aging can be understood through the acronym “CUPID”; it is a Cumulative, Universal, Progressive, Intrinsic and Deleterious functional and structural changes that usually begin at the reproductive maturity. Whew! I think CUPID means a decline in our biological systems!

Fey-Yensan went on to say that she defines successful and healthy aging as when a person has: a low risk of disease and disease related disabilities, a high mental and physical function and an active engagement in life.

There are eight biomarkers of aging that can predict better biological aging, according to Fey-Yensan

  • Body mass index “BMI”, a measure of body fat based on height and weight
  • pulse
  • muscle mass
  • bone mineral density
  • handgrip strength
  • gait and balance
  • blood pressure
  • lipid profile.

We can control our choices that shape our aging outcomes. The average life expectancy in the US has increased by two years since 2005 to 78.8 years. There are 45 million people 65 or older living in the United States, and in Charlotte those 65 and over make up around 12% of the population.

Fey-Yensan outlined a series of tips to manage your biological age: stay physically active; eat healthy; get enough sleep; maintain dental health; stay intellectually engaged; stay socially engaged; and have a positive attitude!

It takes consistent work to increase our health and longevity. Dean Fey-Yensan made us aware of things we can all do to be active healthy Rotarians for years to come.