Get These Tips for Living to 100

Category: Health Issues

April 4, 2017 — Most people including your editor would be very pleased to live to 100. That assumes of course we have most of our wits about us and are able to escape afflictions that cause a lot of pain or difficulty managing daily life. So it seems worth asking – what are the keys to living to age 100?

The number of Americans who are 100 or over is increasing rapidly. The number went from 32,000 in 1980 to 77,000 this year. We baby boomers will swell those ranks even further, starting in 2046. The absolute best advice for living to centenarian status is simple – choose your grandparents wisely!

Your editor’s mother lived to 102 and was doing great until felled by a stroke. She smoked until she was 40, and never went in for exercise much. But she was active throughout her life (golf, tennis, and walking). She kept her mind sharp playing bridge, reading, and worrying about her many descendants. My baby sister teased that our mother believed in staying hydrated, although she preferred an old fashioned to plain water as the way to do it. Still she never overdid it there. Her mother lived to age 92.

Kaiser Health News recently published an interesting article, “100 Year Olds Share Secrets of Knee Bends and Nips of Scotch“, which features interviews with people who have hit the 100 year marker. Those secrets have every kind of story on how to get there. Some people never smoked; most, if they do drink, do so in moderation. Being married seems to be a help – it is often less stressful to have a partner and companion than not.

Endocrinologist Nir Barzilai, founding director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., is quoted in the article about the influence of genes vs. environment. He thinks it is “…really 50-50, no matter how you look at it.” He also found that most of the centenarians don’t smoke, the men tend to be lean, and they high levels of good cholesterol. People who take care of themselves have a better chance of living longer.

Comments: In my mother’s last years the #1 question she was asked was what were the keys to her longevity. What are the chances that you might live to be 100? Of those you know who have made it that far, what were there secrets?

For further reading:
What Older People Can Tell Us About Staying Young

Posted by Admin on April 4th, 2017

11 Comments »

  1. My father lived to just 3 months shy of 100. He injected insulin 2xday. He worked until he was 84 and kept his drivers license until he was 95. His secret of longevity, according to him, was that he was “a skinny kid that lived a very modest lifestyle with his 9 brothers & sisters and always hungry”. He believed that being overweight was a sure killer and always advised that “pushing away from the table when you were half full” was the key. Also, he ate lots of greens with his main meals. Staying active and having a good sense of humor was also key. A great story teller, with a fantastic memory of the depression era. He was born in 1910 & a Hungarian immigrant coming to America in 1912. He also enjoyed his small dose of cognac each day. I believe held had the key to the longevity story.

    by Laurie — April 5, 2017

  2. My father in law died at the age of 94 after 70 years of smoking non filtered cigarettes. I am not sure where he inherited his longevity (he and all his siblings lived longer than there parents). His one sister lived to 103. I do think that the last 6 months of his life were peaceful despite being in a nursing home. He was a quiet and private man. My husband is just like him.

    by Kathy — April 5, 2017

  3. My Grandpa was born in 1897 and died in 2007 at 110 years old and 49 days. My Grandma lived to age 91 years old. They lived on a farm in Kentucky and had no modern conveniences till way later in life and that was electricity, a refrigerator a black and white small tv and radio. They also had an outhouse and a well they had to draw water out of that was sulfer water that had the aromo of boiled eggs and black. My Grandpa farmed tobacco and plowed the fields with a mule team. Grandma planted a garden that was probably a half an acre. She canned all she could. She milked cows, fed chickens, gathered eggs, sewed quits and clothes and in her spare time had 10 babies, 4 which died as babies or small children.They had to pull water out of the well bucket by bucket to bathe and warm water on the stovetop. She eventually had a washer but had to hang out the clothes to dry year round. Grandma had to cook 3 giant meals a day to feed her hard working hungry family and sometimes the work hands when the tobacco needed harvesting. It was a hard, brutal life and how they lived so long is beyond me. They never ate beef because what cattle they had they sold for cash money and they ate salt cured hams, bacon, lard, lots of cornbread, eggs, fish and chicken. Sometimes they would hunt and bring home some varments. The chickens my Grandma had to cook were not from the grocery store. She had to wring their necks, remove the feathers and butcher them. They say life was simple back then, I think not! It was a matter of survival every single day. There are 2 surviving children that are pushing 90 and 84ish. All lived long lives but not as long as Grandpa! He was an orphan and was shuffled around as a kid and left to go on his own at a young age. He amassed quite a small fortune in cash and property for a man who only had about a 5th grade education! Oh, and he chewed tobacco his whole life and never got cancer. He spent the last 10 years of his life in a nursing home but was sharp as a tack till the end.

    by Louise — April 5, 2017

  4. While my Dad “only” lived to 88-1/2, his sister lived to mid 90’s and his parents lived to late 90s. My grandfather drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney. On the other side, my grandparent only lived to mid 70s but 3 of their kids lived to late 90’s (and never passed up a good schnaps – per German usage) My spouse, on the other hand, exercised and was physically very fit, ate well, held a desk job where he used his mind constantly, and still developed early onset Alzheimers despite coming from a family with no history of the disease. I’m ok with whatever happens with my life span, and don’t care about living to 100. If I get a terminal disease tomorrow, I’ll be sorry to miss things with my family but that’s life. This attitude may come from being a widow, having farmers in my life (so I grew up seeing the cycle of life & death up close), religious faith and knowing that my kids are practical,grounded, self-supporting and can do ok without me. I have no interest in “working” at eking out a few extra months at the end of life, and want to enjoy each day of my life no matter how long it turns out to be. I am more concerned about “Right to Die” laws. I want the option to die with dignity when the time comes, and would like to have the opportunity to vote on a Right to Die law in my state.

    by Kate . — April 6, 2017

  5. Hi Kate:

    It is a different view for everyone, but I feel that “quality of life” is more important than extending one’s life through artificial means. When it is our time, I believe we will go period. You seem to be at peace with your life and I bet it will continue in the years to come.

    Jennifer

    by Jennifer — April 7, 2017

  6. Agree completely, Jennifer! If I could live an extra year from 99 to 100 by giving up bacon, I’d choose bacon. If I could live an extra ten years from 90 to 100 by exercising rigorously now even though I’d have poor eyesight, difficulty walking, aches and pains and be dependent on others in my 90s, I’ll choose to sit in my recliner and turn on the tv. That doesn’t mean that I’m a lump waiting to die, eating Godiva for breakfast or that I’ll drink and smoke my way through retirement (well, maybe I’ll eat the Godiva if it’s a chocolate kind of day). If I enjoyed exercising and healthy food, that would be great too. I admit that it’s a good idea to maintain fitness to be able to continue to dance around my living room to classic rock as long as possible. I just don’t care much about reaching 100. And if I do get to 100 and I have poor eyesight, difficulty walking, aches and pains etc., at least I will also have enjoyed my life along the way.

    by Kate . — April 8, 2017

  7. Louise, that is a fascinating story! Consider that against all those who preach “eating right”, etc. and it makes you wonder. I think both sides are anecdotal and “it depends”.

    Kate and Jennifer, yes. As I started reading this article, my first thought was echoed in the second sentence: “That assumes of course we have most of our wits about us and are able to escape afflictions that cause a lot of pain or difficulty managing daily life.”

    I agree specifically with what Jennifer said: ” I have no interest in “working” at eking out a few extra months at the end of life, and want to enjoy each day of my life no matter how long it turns out to be. I am more concerned about “Right to Die” laws.”

    While I have no urgent desire to leave this world, I certainly don’t worry about the possibility. We all have genetics to deal with. I am the longest lived male ever in my direct line. My genetics have somewhat betrayed me and I already live with enough physical/comfort issues that I’m not interested in taking on long years of the same. I’ve now seen so many of my age group and younger pass on that I know I’m near the average. I’ve had what I felt was a great life and I do expect to have years more, but I will be content to go when the time comes. I have no desire at all to contend with the greater ravages of “old age”. Ya’ll enjoy “Living to 100”. :<)

    by Rich — April 8, 2017

  8. Rich, for my grandparents, I guess they did eat right! The lard they added to cook their food gave them energy. They worked so hard each day, they probably burned 10,000 calories a day. They didn’t need treadmills or exercise programs. Just living life was exercise enough. People are finding natural foods, like lard and not partially hydrogenated oils, are best for people. So my grandparents not eating chemical laden foods, no anitbiotics or hormones in the meats led to a healthy good life. However, being in the blazing sun, day in and day out with no sunscreen makes me wonder how they didn’t all get skin cancer. I have no idea if it was a healthy, hard working life or just lots of luck to live so long! One thing I do remember my mother telling me is that her father (grandpa) got bitten by a rabid racoon and had to endure those rabies vaccine shots in the stomach. The cure just about killed him! My mother also told me she was cutting across a creek to go to her older Sister’s house and a copperhead snake bit her dog! She said she was near some old woman’s house who saw what happened and she did something to help the dog and saved its life! There is no way I would want to live that life even if I were to live to be 100 years old. No way!

    by Louise — April 9, 2017

  9. Uncle Lee lived to be 104 years old. His diet did not include processed foods. He watched his salt, sugar, and cholesterol intake. His diet….rolled oats, eggs, whole wheat bread and 2oz of meat a day. Most vegetables and fruits were ate straight like they were…natural. He loved biscuits with jam. He used low salt real butter. Sweet potatoes and other potatoes were always baked. He never touched corn. Said “It wasn’t fit for human consumption”. He walked every sunny day to town and back. About 2 miles round trip. He was a preacher.

    by DeyErmand — April 10, 2017

  10. Yeah we’re up getting there, too. But if you keep your self fit and eat well and exercise we may not have as many problems. Those 80 -somethings may not have had the chance to take care of themselves like we can.

    It’s definitely work and not always fun but you’ve got fight the fight. Okay done with my pep talk
    (this comment provided by Sharon)

    by Admin — April 11, 2017

  11. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, folks. It’s all about genetics, lifestyle and luck. Not necessarily in that order.

    Statistics prove compellingly that longer life spans are achieved with good medical and dental care, BMI below 25, lower saturated fat diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, reduced stress, living among a vaccinated population, and avoidance of alcohol and tobacco abuse. Yes, some smoking, drinking, fast-living humans will defy the odds to reach the 100 year mark, but they are the minuscule exception, anecdotes aside.

    As for believing that “keeping mentally sharp” will delay or deny the physiological brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s or dementia, there is little or no evidence that exercising the brain is helpful beyond the short term, if that. Indeed, this almost insulting supposition suggests that if only the people felled by these brain diseases had kept themselves mentally sharp their faculties would have remained intact. (Those Nobel laureate scientists felled by Alz or dementia should have worked more crossword puzzles…)

    I agree with the comments above that the amount of years of my life is less important than the amount of good health and life in my years. We all search for ways to do that, but chasing fairy tales (like smoking for 50 years won’t affect our health) is a poor substitute for reasonable care of the bodies we inhabit.

    by J-Dog — April 13, 2017

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