Living to Age 100: Expert Tips for a Smooth Ride

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Living longer
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How long do estimates show we will live? Maintaining optimal health as we age is an important focus. Researchers say it is very possible to live to be 100 and most of us alive today are likely to do just that.

Can we really live to be 100?

The answer is yes. But lifestyle choices are important as we get older to help us avoid chronic conditions like arthritis and dementia that can mean lack of independence and dependency on others for care.

According to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Census Bureau, the fastest growing age group is 80+. The number of Americans living to age 100 is expected to jump to 800,000 by the year 2050 from 100,000 in 2012. In 2008, there were 1.8 million people over age 90 in the United States.

Stephen Jones, MD, a board-certified Geriatric Medicine specialist and Director of the Center for Healthy Aging at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich has 10 tips for living to be 100 that he says all have a huge impact on future health.

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We have also added some extra information about why it’s important to follow Dr. Jones’ advice and how to do it.

  1. Keep stress at bay – Nothing ages us faster than letting stress get the best of us. We cannot eliminate stress altogether, but we can control our attitude. Keep a positive outlook and accept what cannot be changed.
  2. Smile a lot. Laughter is good medicine. Not only does it lower stress levels, but the physiological benefits of a hearty laugh are well-documented. Laughter can keep blood pressure lower, help with weight loss, improve existing health conditions and can spread to those around you.
  3. Manage your blood pressure. Use your medication as directed and keep your checkups with you doctor. High blood pressure can lead to changes in the blood vessels in the brain that insidiously and occur over time. Hypertension can also lead to kidney damage. Exercise or just move about frequently to keep blood vessels flexible and healthy. Follow guidelines for lower salt intake and watch your food intake to keep your weight within normal limits.
  4. Eat nutritiously. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables and healthy oils. In one of the largest recent studies to date, researchers found eating foods associated with the Mediterranean diet can help keep memory intact with aging. Eating the right foods can help thwart cancer, help control pain (for instance cherries for arthritis) and even lower blood pressure (e.g. beet juice).
  5. Don’t smoke – Studies show smoking decreases Years of Healthy Life (YHL) and diminishes the chances of quality life years. The good news is, not smoking for 15 years increases YHL the same as a non-smoker. That’s good news for Baby Boomers in their 50’s and 60’s who could look forward to living to be 100 and enjoying every minute by stopping smoking now.
  6. Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours each night. If you are having trouble with insomnia, consider learning meditation. Take morning walks that are shown to contribute to better sleep. Avoid eating late at night, but don’t go to bed hungry either. Maintain a regular bedtime schedule, even during time changes. Too little sleep is linked to a variety of health problems including weight gain, depression, and memory loss, higher chance of falls and motor vehicle accidents and higher risk of colon cancer.
  7. Keep moving. Activity benefits are well documented. You do not have to hit the gym every day to optimal health. Just sitting for prolonged periods can contribute to irreversible health problems including blood clots, obesity and more.
  8. Keep your brain active. Playing games, competing with others at cards, reading and crossword games are all ways you can use your noggin to stay mentally sharp on your journey to living to be 100 years old.
  9. Seek the company of others. Get out and socialize. Take advantage of community offerings such as volunteering, group exercise or just a day of sightseeing with a friend. Consider adopting a pet for companionship and exercise.
  10. Understand that life is a gift. Todd Kashdan, associate professor of psychology at George Mason University reminds us that gratitude is one of the best ways to remain happy and healthy.

Danish researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany used a predictive model in 2009 to estimate life expectancy. The authors concluded: “Very long lives are not the distant privilege of remote future generations -- very long lives are the probable destiny of most people alive now in developed countries.”

Dr. Terry Grossman also has 9 more interesting tips that can help us live to be stay healthy to age 100 that he discusses in the video below. There is also a little quiz for you.

Living to be 100 years old is indeed possible. Preparing now for a healthy future can ensure the ride is smooth and even luxurious.

Resources:
Health Serv Res. 2004 June; 39(3): 531–552.
doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2004.00243.x
Census.gov
Greenwich Hospital

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