Longevity is something that humankind has been striving for from time and beyond. According to a Global Health and Aging report from 2011, the global number of centenarians is projected to increase 10-fold between 2010 and 2050 (notably, today an overwhelming 80% of them are women). In Britain, while there were just 24 centenarians in 1917, there are now almost 15,000! Whether one is lucky enough to reach such an old age is a factor of genetics, socioeconomic factors and psychological characteristics. Managing to avoid personal or social key turning points, such as diseases, wars, poverty, etc. also plays a crucial role. A questionnaire on the website www.livingto100.com that calculates your life expectancy based on a series of lifestyle questions, gives a good overview of factors that have an influence on how long we live.
Lynn Peters, co-author of the book “Celebrate 100: Centenarian Secrets to Success in Business and Life” describes in his book that when asked, active centenarians positively claim that life is still fun at 100 and that reaching this age is really worth it. And also, that many of them felt much younger than they actually were. So, this really seems like something we should strive for!
Many of us today know someone or have a relative who is 91 years or older. This was not very common just a few decades ago. Every now and then one even gets to hear about very active timeless elders who do yoga or run the marathon to keep themselves active, fit and in shape. Eileen Ash is such an inspirational example:
So, what is it that timeless elders cite as being the secret to a long life? According to Lynn Peters, these are the main habits that she gets to hear often:
- A positive attitude: a realistic or even optimistic attitude
- Diet: eat like in the 1960s and avoid large portions; smoke or drink in moderation
- Exercise: moderate exercise of the mind and body
- Faith: in life or in God helped in staying positive
- Clean living: stay out of trouble and follow your conscience
- A loving family: to share life with
- Good genetics: pick the right parents! Some luck is maybe required here…
Gail Sheehy, author of New Passages and several other books, describes successful centenarians as follows:
“The word researchers apply most frequently to centenarians is “adaptable.” All have suffered losses and setbacks. But even the most intense loss, such as the loss of a spouse after 50 or 60 years of marriage, was mourned, and then the person moved on. Other characteristics of healthy centenarians, garnered from a number of studies, are these: Most have high native intelligence, a keen interest in current events, a good memory and few illnesses. They tend to be early risers, sleeping on average between six and seven hours. Most drink coffee, follow no special diets, but generally prefer diets high in protein, low in fat. There is no uniformity in their drinking habits, but they use less medication in their lifetimes than many old people use in a week. They prefer living in the present, with changes, and are usually religious in the broad sense.”
In his book on longevity, “Pro-longevity”, Albert Rosenfeld states for people who gave their ages as l00 or more, “It was clear that, though these individuals worked hard and enjoyed their work, there was a marked lack of high ambition. They had tended to live relatively quiet and independent lives, were generally happy with their jobs, their families, and their religion, and had few regrets. Nearly all expressed a strong will to live, and a high appreciation for the simple experiences and pleasures of life.”
There is a lot we can learn from those in this Blob. And they can for sure feel satisfied, lucky and proud of themselves!
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
Global Health and Aging a World Health Organisation publication
Celebrate 100: Centenarian Secrets to Success in Business and Life by Steve Franklin and Lynn Peters Adler
New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time by Gail Sheehy
PRO – LONGEVITY by Albert Rosenfeld