Thursday, March 15, 2012

100 Year Olds Ask The Best Questions

Among the several topics I lecture on is The Role of Genetics in Longevity and How to Live to 100. (If you want to hear the lecture, please follow this link for part 1). Yesterday, I gave the lecture in a continuum care community. The day before, I lectured on How Supplements and Vitamins Are A Waste of Money and May Be Harmful in another community. (If you want to hear that lecture, here's the link for part 1.)

I bring these lectures up because often my audience consists of people over the age of 90 and in fact, the lecture two days ago had two people over the age of 100. Is that a coincidence? I don't think so. As part of my research into what it takes to live to 100, the conclusions across the board were extremely uniform. Stay engaged, strive for meaning and purpose in life, and keep learning as part of a healthy lifestyle process. It didn't surprise me that the individuals who asked the most questions after the lecture were the oldest people in the room. The 102 year old was asking specific questions about which supplements she should take. I quipped that she should keep doing what she's doing because it seems to be working. I nevertheless invited her to the practice so we could spend some time together and I could more carefully review the actual supplements she takes.

You may be asking yourself why would I want to engage someone who has already surpassed the centenarian mark for a wellness visit? The answer is because she has the potential to become a super centenarian (greater than 110) and for all I know she could outlive the oldest person on record, Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122, but died in 1997.

This 102 year old lady was completely with it, displaying a razor sharp mind, but some perceived fragility. However, even  more impressive was the second centenarian who I would have mistaken for 80, and who asked even better questions and had a slight spring in her movement.

It truly excites me when I meet people, regardless of which combination of good genetics, healthy lifestyle, and modern medicine helped them, manage to surpass the century mark. I have been in the senior care industry over23 years and the number of centenarians is clearly growing. Yet, at the same time, we read almost daily headlines trumpeting increasing obesity and diabetes rates, with the majority of American still succumbing prematurely to heart disease and cancer. This dichotomy raises what I think is the all important question, do we have a choice which camp we ultimately fall into?

By now, the answer should be obvious but it's worth repeating it. Absolutely, we have a choice! We can choose to pursue a longer, healthier life or we can rationalize that since that are some many things that can harm us, it doesn't matter what daily choices we make when it comes to food, diet, stress, etc.

My high school basketball coach once said to me that he was working on his second million before his first, because he thought the second million was easier. I likewise jokingly tell people not to work on living to their next decade; rather, they should strive for the decade after that.

No doubt that for some, living to 100 comes relatively easy because they have uniquely protective genes and they have always lived a charmed life. The numbers in fact show that these Escapers as they are called, only represent 15% of all centenarians.

43% of centenarians are called Delayers, which means their first major illness came after the age of 80.

But the most exciting group, representing 42% of all centenarians are the Survivors, people who had a major illness before 80 and still lived to 100.  I suspect that major illness was a wake-up call that stirred them to action. This number deserves repetition. People who had a major illness before the age of 80 still managed to live to 100. Wow! That is great and should give everyone hope that living to 100 may be possible for you.

Do you really need to learn that you have cancer, heart disease, or diabetes before you are motivated to action? I pray not. Isn't it time you made plans to join the growing community of people living into their 90s and 100s?

Don't get left behind. Today, right now, find out how you can live to 100 and chart a course to a longer life. The best reason to do so is because the longer you live, the healthier you've been. Ask your doctor what you can do or call us at MDPrevent and let us offer you the guidance and support you need. What are you waiting for?

1 comment:

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