Lessons from Centenarians

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.

“Lessons from Centenarians”

By Jan Fowler

It has always been my hope and dream to live long enough to see my birthday cake decorated with a hundred-plus candles, to have enough “puff power” to blow them all out, and to still be able to squeeze into an Oscar de la Renta ruby red satin dress for the party.  So what are some of the secrets to living to 100 years of age anyway?

Well, for many years we’ve known that sound nutrition, daily exercise, and good genetics can help add years to our life.  But research is now turning up surprising new evidence that points to other factors which may also contribute to longevity.  At the top of the list is an optimistic attitude, which for many of us is an on-going challenge each day of this COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dr. Syed Mohsin, a geriatric physician, “People who live longer may have good genes and have lived a healthy lifestyle since childhood. Many grew up on farms where they exercised a lot and ate foods that were free of preservatives. Exercise is essential,” he added. “Whatever is good for the body is good for the brain.”

Results of the most recent U.S. Census report show that more than 90,000 Americans are living to be 100 years or older.  And according to a United Nations estimate, it is predicted that approximately 3.2 million people worldwide will live to be 100 by the year 2050.

Now stop for just a moment and try to imagine the many changes which these people must have lived through, including the 1918 flu epidemic.

For starters, one century ago 95% of babies were born at home, 8% of the population had a telephone, 14% of the homes enjoyed a bathtub, heroin and marijuana were sold over the counter at drug stores, and people went crazy over the invention of sliced bread.

And did I mention that in the past hundred years we’ve profited from the discovery of the Salk Vaccine, the introduction of TV and rabbit ears, computers, cordless phones, satellite communications, space age medicine, octopus freeways, and people went crazy over the invention of sliced bread.

In general, the overall rise in hundred-year-olds is being attributed to healthier living, better medical care, improved disease control, sanitation, and public education.

It has furthermore been proposed that doctors are no longer giving up quite as quickly on treating older patients as they once did.

So in case you might be interested, after interviewing a dozen or more people over the 100-year mark throughout the past few years, here is how I would profile my impressions of a centenarian:

~ A man or woman with a remarkable will to live, a capacity for resilience, and an optimistic outlook or inspired way of thinking.

~ A person who maintains a sense of purpose, stays connected to others, and shares love, laughter, and smiles.

~ A man or woman who possesses a strong immune system which may be further enhanced by regular exercise, a sound diet, and adequate sleep.

~ And someone who has made healthy choices such as not to smoke or become overweight, and who remains physically active.

And looking back to those early days, who would have ever believed that one day we could find love and romance, or even a date for Saturday night simply by connecting to an online dating site—all while loafing at home in our bedroom slippers?

So what favorite stories might you like to share at your party when you blow out a hundred candles on your cake one day?   We’d all very much enjoy hearing your favorite remembrances.

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