Day 354 of the Calendar Year

The oldest person in the world! This is a title that takes years to earn and once you earn it, you probably will not hold it very long. Last week, the oldest person in the world was 114-year-old Yone Minagawa from Japan. Sadly, by the time this blog is posted, there will probably be another title holder. The chance to earn the “oldest living person” in the world designation is slim for most of us. However, recent studies report that the odds of living past 100 are growing. The US Department of Census projects that there could be over four million Americans reaching age 100 or more by 2050. Super Centenarians are those people who live to over 110 years of age. A study by Robin and Vaupel (2001) shows that in the world as a whole, the number of validated super-centenarians for whom adequate documentation is available is increasing. Other evidence also points to a world-wide increase in lifespan, thus making the age of 100 increasingly more likely for many of us.

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to live to 100 or more? You would have set foot in two centuries during one lifetime. You would have lived in five generations and possibly be a great great great or greater grandparent. If you had been born in the year 1900 and had lived past the year 2000, you would have lived through the horse and buggy era and now be living in the age of rockets and space travel. You would have lived in a time when there were no TV’s, cell phones, radios, computers or Internet and now be living in a time when all of these are common. What if you were born in 2000 and live to be 100? You would make it to the 22nd century. If we accept that we will make as much or more progress in the next 100 years as we have in the last, what changes do you think you would see? It is hard to imagine the same degrees of changes taking place between 2000 and 2100 as between 1900 and 2000 and yet it is inevitable. Furthermore, the changes will probably dwarf those of the past century. What do you have to do to live to 100? Studies seem to point to the following common factors among centenarians:

• Continuing to play a role in society
• Keeping in good physical shape
• Taking preventive measures against serious disease
• Looking on the bright side of life
• Being intellectually stimulated
• Believing that happiness can be achieved
• Having financial security
• Having a good life expectation
• Maintaining satisfactory social relationships

(Quality of life and longevity: a study of centenarians, Mariosa Dello Buono, Ornella Urciuou, Diego De Leo in Age and Ageing 1998; 27: 207-216)

Well, looking at this list, do you have what it takes? Will you live to 100 years of age? Do you think you might even obtain the oldest person in the world title? What would have to change in your life for you to be in the running? Which of the above factors do you need to work on? Would you like to live to 100 if you could be healthy and happy to that age?

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