The Secrets to Living Past 100

I subscribe to the magazine, The Week. In case you fall off the planet for a week, you can easily catch up on the world’s goings on easily. Recently they published a feature about the world’s oldest siblings and their secret to life.

Helen is 108 years old. Eats unhealthy. Drinks. And smokes. Helen is a certified psychologist, a fashion expert, a former TV presenter, and a professor emeritus at New York University.

Helen, her brothers Irving, 104, and Peter, 100 attract a lot of attention. Their sister, Lee, died in 2005 at the age of 102. Together they have provided blood samples and submitted to hours of interviews with age researchers. Ironically the conclusions are, ah, inconclusive.

One researcher noted that “the usual recommendations for a healthy life äóî not smoking, not drinking, plenty of exercise, a well-balanced diet, keeping your weight down äóî they apply to us average people, but not to them. Centenarians are in a class of their own.”Œæ

His centenarian subjects have been overweight; long-time smokers; exercised only moderately or not at all. Ouch, flies in the face of a lot of things I preach. Researchers were quick to note that a healthy lifestyle is still important to we other mere mortals.

You see in order to reach the age of 100 you need a special genetic makeup. “These people age differently. Slower. They end up dying of the same diseases that we do äóî but 30 years later and usually quicker, without languishing for long periods.”
Irving, the younger brother, did tell the reporter that diet and abstaining from drinking and smoking were important to his health and was somewhat mystified at his sister’s lifestyle and longevity. Researchers did agree with Irving’s assessment that being an extroverted and having a stable social network were important. I certainly agree. The value of friendship is one of the points I make in my Meaning of Life keynote. Another point, optimism seems to surface with these siblings. I call it having a great attitude.

So there you have it. It’s in the genes.