- Good Health: If you make it to 100, you’re typically in pretty darn good health. Centenarians on average escape physical disability until age 93, which is remarkable. Fifteen percent in the Boston U study had no physical disability.
- Lean and Smoke-Free: Few centenarians are obese and have no significant history of smoking.
- Healthy Minds: About 15% had no change in their cognitive ability and Alzheimer’s and dementia were not inevitable.
- Optimism and Worry: Centenarians generally handle stress well, not dwelling on things, and having an optimistic outlook. But a new look on 80+ years of longevity research says for some people stress and worry can actually be good for their longevity march.
Want Longevity? – It’s About Being Conscientious
In 1921, psychologist Lewis Terman began studying 1500 children in a longitudinal study that lasted more than 80 years. In their new book “The Longevity Project,” researchers Leslie Martin and Howard Friedman write about their two-decade analysis of Terman and his successors’ study.
A big takeaway: People who are highly conscientious live longer.
Conscientious people, for example, take better care of themselves, avoiding risks such as drugs and smoking. Conscientious people are more selective about their endeavors and relationships – choosing healthy, invigorating ones. For example, their work may be stressful, but they like it. They also say more conscientious people typically find life partners and friends who enrich them.
Unfortunately we haven’t yet eradicated cancer and other life-shortening disease, but the new old age is longer for many. And we know more about why that is and will learn more. In the meantime, try this calculator from Dr. Perls, director of The New England Centenarian Study.
I also invite you to read these 50 Tips for Aging Gracefully, many of which come from Ecumen customers, the average age of which is 83, on their thoughts for longevity. And please add your own.