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