My Definition Of Healthy Ageing

By Founder of Sage Wellbeing Katie Pinnick


Both my parents died younger than I think they should have and that is one of the reasons I am passionate about healthy ageing.

Polypharmacy is the use of multiple medicines to prevent or treat medical conditions. It is commonly defined as the concurrent use of five of more medicines by the same person. Personally, I don’t want to spend the last years of my life dependent on medications.

Ageing research has experienced an unprecedented advance over recent years. Longevity is a hot topic.

Your lifespan is the total length of time you're alive, from birth to death.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Your health span is the period during which you are able to thrive, free from disease and in hormonal harmony.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I think it's never too late to boost your health span.

In researching healthy ageing I am always fascinated by definitions on the topic.

My research has shown me that healthy ageing can be defined from various perspectives, including biological, psychological, social, and environmental viewpoints. Here are some definitions reflecting this multidisciplinary approach (with references below)


  • Healthy ageing is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. (1)


  • Successful aging involves the absence of disease and disability, maintaining high physical and cognitive function, and sustained engagement in social and productive activities. (2)


  • Healthy aging is characterized by low levels of frailty, which encompasses aspects like weakness, slowness, and low energy. (3)


  • Healthy aging involves adapting strategies to optimize and compensate for age-related changes. (4)


  • Healthy aging is reflected in psychological well-being, encompassing autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. (5)


  • Healthy aging should be defined by the individual's own criteria, including feelings of well-being, fulfillment, and satisfaction. (6)


  • Healthy aging involves achieving life’s major roles and tasks, such as maintaining autonomy and managing life changes effectively. (7)


  • Healthy aging includes factors like longevity, freedom from disability, high cognitive and physical functioning, and active engagement with life. (8)


  • Healthy aging is not merely the absence of disease, but the presence of fitness and vigor. (9)


  • Healthy aging is the ability to maintain three key behaviors: learning, loving, and leaving a legacy. (10)


  • Healthy aging is characterized by the compression of morbidity, reducing the time a person spends disabled or ill towards the end of life. (11)


  • Healthy aging recognizes the diversity among aging individuals and the need to tailor health strategies accordingly. (12)


  • Healthy aging involves an increased focus on emotional well-being and meaningful relationships. (13)


Mitochondrial function and telomere length are ageing mechanisms worthy of attention. Our mitochondria are referred to as the powerhouses of our cells. They turn food and oxygen into energy (mostly through aerobic cellular respiration) and this energy currency is ATP (adenosine triphosphate.)

Mitochondria play an important and early role in apoptosis which is the orderly genetically programmed death of a cell. Mitochondrial function has a profound impact on the ageing process. Mitochondrial dysfunction can accelerate ageing.

Exposure to toxins and consuming processed foods can have a detrimental effect on our mitochondria.

If you are wanting to increase your healthspan and lifespan there is a large and growing body of evidence to support two interventions – that being dietary restriction and ensuring an optimal intake of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients are a powerful healthy ally.

Read more about phytonutrients HERE






1/ World Report on Ageing and Health.Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1997). Successful aging. The Gerontologist, 37(4), 433-440.


2/ Fried, L. P., Tangen, C. M., Walston, J., Newman, A. B., Hirsch, C., Gottdiener, J., ... & McBurnie, M. A. (2001). Frailty in older adults: Evidence for a phenotype. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 56(3), M146-M156.


3/ Baltes, P. B., & Baltes, M. M. (1990). Psychological perspectives on successful aging: The model of selective optimization with compensation. In P. B. Baltes & M. M. Baltes (Eds.), Successful aging: Perspectives from the behavioral sciences (pp. 1-34). Cambridge University Press.


4/ Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069.


5/ Bowling, A., & Dieppe, P. (2005). What is successful ageing and who should define it? BMJ, 331(7531), 1548-1551.


6/ Havighurst, R. J. (1961). Successful aging. The Gerontologist, 1(1), 8-13.


7/ Depp, C. A., & Jeste, D. V. (2006). Definitions and predictors of successful aging: A comprehensive review of larger quantitative studies. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 14(1), 6-20.


8/ Butler, R. N. (2002). The concept of successful aging can be improved. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 50(7), 1302.


9/ Vaillant, G. E. (2002). Aging well. Little, Brown and Co.


10/ Fries, J. F. (2002). Reducing disability in older age. JAMA, 288(24), 3164-3166.


11/ Lowsky, D. J., Olshansky, S. J., Bhattacharya, J., & Goldman, D. P. (2014). Heterogeneity in healthy aging. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 69(6), 640-649.


12/ Carstensen, L. L. (1992). Social and emotional patterns in adulthood: Support for socioemotional selectivity theory. Psychology and Aging, 7(3), 331.


13/ Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social Science & Medicine, 51(6), 843-857.


Additional References:


Fontana, L., Partridge, L. & Longo, V.D. Extending Healthy Lifespan – from yeast to humans. Science, 328, 321-326 (2010).

Morgan TK, Williamson M, Pirotta M, Stewart K, Myers SP, Barnes J. A national census of medicines use: a 24-hour snapshot of Australians aged 50 years and older. Med J Aust 2012 Jan 16;196(1):50–3.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s health snapshots 2020 [Internet]. Canberra: AIHW; 2020 [updated 2020 Aug 13; accessed Aug 2020].

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