Wanna live past 100 years? Wanna see yourself in the eyes of the grandchild of your grandchild? Wanna see how science and technology would have evolved 70 or 80 years from now? Wanna see pictures of human colonies on Mars and expeditions to distant planets? Wanna see how the cell phone or the television or the Internet would have evolved by that time?
If only for that last one, I’m quite sure many of us would like to live past our centenary.
Now, the good news: It’s not that hard to live long, and I mean really loooong. Two new studies have shown that even people who have serious health problems like heart disease or diabetes could stand a good chance of having three numbers in their age.
In one study, Boston University researchers interviewed and assessed the health of more than 500 women and 200 men who had reached 100. They found that roughly two-thirds of them had avoided significant age-related ailments.
But the rest, dubbed “survivors,” had developed an age-related disease before reaching 85, including high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes. Yet many functioned remarkably well — nearly as well as their disease-free peers.
Overall, the men were functioning better than the women. Nearly three-fourths of the male survivors could bathe and dress themselves, while only about one-third of the women could.
The researchers think that may be because the men had to be in exceptional condition to reach 100. “Women, on the other hand, may be better physically and socially adept at living with chronic and often disabling conditions,” wrote lead author Dr. Dellara Terry and her colleagues.
Rosa McGee is one of the healthy women in the study who managed to avoid chronic disease. Now 104, the retired cook and seamstress is also strikingly lucid.
“My living habits are beautiful,” McGee said in an interview at her daughter’s Chicago apartment. “I don’t take any medicines. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. Never did anything like that.”
Until late 2006, when she fell in her St. Louis home, McGee lived alone and took care of herself. Now in Chicago, she is less mobile but still takes walks a few times weekly down the apartment building hallways, with her daughter’s help.
McGee credits her faith in God for her good health.
Genes also played a major role — McGee’s maternal grandparents lived to age 100 and 107.
But while genes are important, scientists don’t think they tell the whole story about longevity.
A second, larger study of men in their 70s found that those who avoided smoking, obesity, inactivity, diabetes and high blood pressure greatly improved their chances of living into their 90s. In fact, they had a 54 percent chance of living that long.
Their survival decreased with each risk factor, and those with all five had only a 4 percent chance of living into their 90s, according to Harvard University researchers.
“It’s not just luck, it’s not just genetics. … It’s lifestyle” that seems to make a big difference, said lead author Dr. Laurel Yates of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Yates said it’s never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Ok, time for me to jog to the office. See you in 60 years! I’ll still be blogging for Froodee in 2068. That’s a promise.