In 1997, researchers Rowe and Kahn defined successful aging according to three standards:

  • Low probability of disease and disease-related disability
  • High cognitive and physical functional capacity
  • Active engagement with life – by which they include elements of spirituality, curiosity and social interactions in the community.

Below are tests that can help you measure the first two standards. The third only you can assess, but it is a key aspect of healthy ageing.

Guideline tests which show how healthily you are ageing

These health guidelines are taken from various sources including UK’s NHS, the Mayo Clinic, Heart UK and The American College of Cardiology.

We start with two you can do yourself. The rest you will have to request from your doctor via a blood test, but the results will enable you to have an educated conversation with medical professionals about healthy ageing. You can print this page.

There is a Heart Age test on the NHS website

  • Waist measurement should be less than 79 cm (31.5 inches) for women and 92 cm (37 inches) for men.

  • BMI (Body Mass Index) should be below 25.

  • Fasting glucose levels should be less than 90 mg/dL. Pre-diabetic is between 100 to 125 mg/dL.

  • Blood pressure should be below 120/80 mmHg. Above 140/90 mmHg is high blood pressure.

  • CRP C-reactive protein should be below 2.0 mg/L. (CRP measures inflammation).

  • Cholesterol

    • Total should be less than 210 mg/dl – also expressed as less than 5.0 mmol/l. High risk individuals below 4.0.
    • LDL cholesterol should be less than 120 mg/dl (below 3.0 mmol/l). High risk individuals below 2.0.
    • HDL cholesterol should be above 40 mg/dl men and 50 mg/dl for women (above 1.0 and 1.2 mmol/l). Optimum between 41-60 mg/dl (1.1-1.5 mmol/l)
    • Cholesterol ratio should be 3.5 or lower = Total cholesterol divided by HDL cholesterol
  • Triglyceride levels should be less than 150 mg/dl – below 1.7 mmol/l.

  • Hb1Ac (glycated haemoglobin)

    • Normal is 4.5% – 5.6%
    • Pre-diabetic is between 5.7% and 6.4%
    • Above 6.5% is diabetic.
  • Vitamin D levels should be between 40 and 80 ng/ml (nanograms per millilitre).

Cognitive tests

There are various tests that can identify Mild Cognitive Impairment. Two common ones are:

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) was developed by Ohio State University. You can access it from here.

The Six Item Cognitive Impairment Test (6CIT) is a brief (5 minute) cognitive function test and is widely used in primary care settings. You can access the Kingshill Version 2000® of the 6CIT test online.