At 75 Betty Krupp still considers herself young or at least young at heart.
"Oh yeah, and I strive to stay there," she says with a laugh.
Krupp doesn't slow down. She is vice-president of Operation Support our Troops America, and the former physical education teacher leads a Sit and Be Fit class at Villa St. Benedict in Lisle where she lives.
As she approached her 70th birthday and arthritis began to set in, Krupp decided to walk a marathon for the Arthritis Foundation to show others that arthritis doesn't have to slow you down. Then she challenged herself to walk two more marathons.
"I realized as I was aging it is important to keep my mind and body active," she says.
If you've ever come across someone like Krupp and thought 'I hope I'm like that when I'm older' or 'I wish I was aging in that way' it may be worth paying attention to that person's philosophy or lifestyle.
Power of positive thinking
Dr. John Saran, a doctor of Internal Medicine at Edward Medical Group in Naperville, says he believes the key to staying young in mind, body and spirit is through preventative care and keeping a positive attitude.
"Studies are clear that people with a positive attitude get fewer diseases, less heart disease, less cancer," he says. "When they do get disease they tend to recover better."
Saran says he tries to help his patients keep a positive perspective because he knows it will get a better result for them.
Mark Bilkey, program director for the Master of Arts in Gerontological Counseling program and chairman of the Counseling Department at Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, says when it comes to aging a good question is "what are you practicing?"
"How do you get to feel great emotionally and physically? Practice, practice, practice," he says.
He says anything people focus on will expand. If someone is focused on anxiety they will continue to be more anxious. If they are a worrier, it is likely they've had practice worrying all their life.
"We are creatures of habit," he says.
He acknowledges that it isn't easy for everyone and some people are predisposed to negativity.
"We can be gently moving ourselves to the next best feeling thought," he says. "Not the best thought or the most delicious thought, but the next best thought."
It's not all in the genes
Often when someone is aging well people chalk it up to good genes. While genetics definitely plays a part in how someone ages, Saran says it doesn't exclude someone with "bad genes" from aging well.
"Family history is important, but it's not everything," Saran says.
Saran offers genetic imprinting to patients testing that can determine the potential risks for a variety of health concerns.
"Knowledge is power," he says. "It can help you avoid risks in the future."
Saran likes to look at the aging process as a puzzle with many pieces, one being genetics, another diet and lifestyle, exposures to the surrounding environment and a little bit of luck thrown in bad or good.
He believes managing the pieces that can be controlled can change the outcome. Saran explains that if DNA is a switch a patient might have a switch for diabetes and heart disease because of their genetic makeup.
"Once you have the switch you can turn it on or turn it off," he says. "It's other influences the choices you make. How you choose to live."
Bilkey says in addition to practicing positive thoughts and believing in them, social connectedness is important to well being.
For some that may be getting involved in activities for others that may mean finding a life coach or counselor someone who can help move negative thoughts outside of your head.
"If it stays it gets the best of you," he says.
Saran also believes relationship building is key working together with a doctor who can offer hope that problems have a solution.
Make up your mind
Krupp says it's a choice to stay home and do nothing or get involved.
"In my own mind I'm not really aging," Krupp says. "What I can do may change because of aging, but I do what I can. I wake up in the morning knowing I have things to do that I want to do."
Krupp had a knee replaced in April, but says it hasn't slowed her down much.
"I could have used that forever as an excuse not to be involved," she says.
Krupp says whatever her involvement, it needs to be something she believes in.
"You find something you can do with the abilities you have even if they are becoming less," she says. "You find a new way to challenge yourself."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun