Just about everyone has an opinion on how people can live to a ripe old age. Old as the hills is often used to describe one well into their 90s. That saying must be getting lots of use these days since people living over 90 are the fastest growing segment of our population, according to a recent 60 Minutes broadcast. Can you believe that? Hard to imagine in 1900 people only lived an average of 49 years. I’d be dust for 9 years already…
Theories abound as to the tricks needed to reach that wrinkly old age where you can get away with just about anything simply because you’re ancient. Personally, I’m looking forward to that part of it, at least.
So the few perks we can look forward to as we inch closer to decaying are things like no longer carrying groceries to the car because some nice young man will help us with that. It’s his pleasure. At least that’s what he’ll tell us.
We will never be without a seat on a bus and I bet we’ll get to move to the front of any line because people will feel bad if we’re standing at the back of one. If we drop something, someone will rush to pick it up. No more unnecessary bending for us.
Ah, the joys of slowly becoming decrepit.
Now don’t get me wrong; getting old is not something to look forward to, but what’s the alternative? When you look at it that way, I say embrace the wrinkles, accept the aching muscles and brittle bones and just go with it. But wait. There’s good news to report on this front.
The 60 Minutes program I mentioned featured the results of a study conducted in the early 1980s with 14,000 seniors living in a retirement community in LA. The study attempted to determine what the seniors did or didn’t do that might eventually contribute to a long life.
Thirty years later they compared data from the original questionnaire to one recently conducted featuring those same seniors who were still alive and kickin’ – many now in their 90s:
And here’s what they found:
1) Doing just 15 minutes of exercise a day is all that’s necessary to maintain good physical health. Up to 45 minutes is optimal but it doesn’t have to be all at once or even aerobic. How sweet is that? Makes me question whether I need to take that hour-long Body Works class at the gym anymore. 2) As we already know, keeping the mind mentally sharp is important to ward off dementia. Join a book club, play board games, make new friends, travel to unfamiliar places…anything to keep those neurons firing so the old noggin’ doesn’t lose more precious brain cells.
3) Vitamins didn’t make a bit of difference. Nil. Nada. None. Most of the 90-plusers didn’t take them. There goes my stash of Cs, Bs, Es and any other letters I have in my medicine cabinet.4) Dessert is our friend. Don’t deprive yourself of sweets. I’ve got this one covered since, lucky for me, I’m not familiar with deprivation where sugar is concerned.5) Those who smoked died earlier. A no-brainer.6) Caffeine is a good thing. Having 1-3 cups a day was better than having more than that or none at all. So glad my espresso machine and I are inseparable.7) Late in life it’s better to weigh more than to weigh less. Those who were average or over-weight outlived those who were underweight. I absolutely LOVE this one, don’t you?8) And perhaps the best news of all? Having 1-2 glasses of alcohol a day (any alcohol) reduced the risk of death by 10-15%. I don’t know about you but that pretty much seals it for me. Vodka martinis and I shall be seeing a lot more of each other.
So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. I think overall the news is pretty promising, don’t you?
It appears if you want to live into your 90s, don’t kill yourself with exercise, do new things you enjoy with people you like, chuck your vitamins, always eat dessert, get your caffeine fix and stock up on the booze.
Who knew getting old could be so much fun?
This week’s blog is dedicated to Dee Dee Dalton, 95-and-three-quarter-year-old mom to my friend Sue. Mrs. D is my inspiration. She’s independent, feisty and engaging. You rock, Mrs. D!