A recent analysis by Dr. Jan Vijg and his team at Albert Einstein College suggests that the upper limit of longevity tops out at around 115 years old. These findings, published in the Journal Nature, are news because in recent years some scientists have suggested that we might be able to expand human longevity indefinitely. Interestingly, I was asked this week how long I wanted to live and my knee jerk response was 90 years. Being that I am in the business of promoting well-being for older adults, I had a flash of guilt about not saying I wanted to live to be 150. But on further reflection what I really want, what I think most of us want, is to be healthy as long as I do live.
A poll released in 2013 by the Pew Research Center showed that most Americans don’t want to live past current life expectancy. Sixty percent don’t want to live past 90 and thirty percent don’t want to live past 80. Driving the misgivings are questions about what kind of life one will have beyond a certain age. These findings affirmed my own reaction. There is life and there is healthy life and they are different.
David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and author of the book Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth about What Makes Us Well, with Stacey Colino, agrees that adding life to years, not just years to life is what it is all about. He says, “aging well is preserving the capacity to live well — right up to the end.”
According to Katz, there are six lifestyle factors that help you stay well. He refers to these six as feet, forks, fingers, sleep, stress, and love. Translated, they amount to: Eating well, being active, not smoking, getting enough sleep, dissipating stress, and sharing love. This affirms Brookdale’s Optimum Life philosophy-with its six dimensions of well-being and its belief in living fully at any age.
Dr. Thomas Perls and other researchers from Boston University’s New England Centenarian study are conducting ongoing research about the components that go into living to be 100. Their findings do point to some genetic markers; however genes play only a relatively small role. Dr. Perls has created a longevity calculator that you can take for free to get an idea of how long you will live based on family history and health habits.
So, how about you-do you want to live to be 100? Go to livingto100.com to take the longevity calculator. Then decide what lifestyle change will help you put more life in your years. And remember, it doesn’t matter how old you are now, anyone can make a positive impact on health and well-being by making some small changes.
Be Well on Purpose!