Who wouldn’t like to live to be 100? Although global life expectancy has rapidly increased since 1800, it’s still quite rare to become a centenarian, or a person who is 100 years or older. People in certain regions of the world are far more likely to reach their 100th birthday, however, including parts of Italy, Greece, Japan, Costa Rica, and California that are known as the Blue Zones. What can we learn about healthy aging from these lucky individuals? After exploring the traits of people who live to be 100, you may wish to change a few of your habits, your vices, or even your mindset.
Traits of People Who Live to Be 100
Accept what you can’t change. Fight for what you can.
According to a study that focused on elderly people in Italy’s Cilento region, people who live to be 100 share some common personality traits. Their younger relatives often described them as “controlling, domineering, and stubborn.” Researchers noticed that many of these seniors exhibited resilience and adaptability. Just about everyone lives through traumatic events, but these seniors flourished by fighting through tough times and maintaining a positive attitude.
Enjoy the great outdoors.
According to a study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, seniors who got outside the house daily lived longer than those who did not. This likely related to the fact that getting outside often and interacting with the world and other people provides physical activity and social stimulation. Plus, simply taking a walk outside in the fresh air can boost your mood and help you feel connected to nature.
Maintain social, spiritual, and geographic bonds.
Humans are social creatures, and people who live to be 100 tend to have a large social network (source). Not only can friends and family provide emotional support, humor, and camaraderie, but also they can watch out for you. They’ll notice if you’re feeling unwell and may advise that you go to a doctor for help. The study of seniors in Cilento, Italy, also revealed that centenarians are likely to have strong connections with their religion and their region. So if you ever feel like you’re just drifting through life, try to anchor yourself to your community.
Retire later in life.
If you’re like most people, you would like to retire as soon as possible. But according to some studies, that may not be a good idea if you’d like to boost your life expectancy. According to a study from Oregon State University, healthy adults who retired at 66 instead of 65 had an 11 percent lower risk of death. Even those who described themselves as unhealthy were more likely to live longer if they worked past 65. In addition, the study of seniors in Cilento, Italy, also found that those who lived into their 90s and 100s often worked into old age. Why might people who work longer live longer? Experts suspect it may be because work provides a social outlet, mental and/or physical exercise (depending on your occupation), and a sense of purpose. So even if you’ve already retired, you might wish to mimic the benefits of work by giving yourself some physical, social, and mental exercise each day.
Eat more plants.
People who live in the “Blue Zones,” where many people live into their 90s and 100s, are more likely to fill their plates with veggies at mealtimes (source). Your diet should ideally be quite colorful – chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Although you don’t need to eliminate meat from your diet, try to limit your consumption; you can get your protein from beans and lentils instead. In addition, only eat until you feel content and satisfied (not until you’re stuffed).
According to Pew Research Center, the number of people that reach age 100 is expected to grow eightfold by 2050. Obviously there isn’t just one way to live a long, healthy life – and genetics play a big role in anyone’s ability to become a centenarian. But if you want to fine-tune your lifestyle in order to live a little longer, you could probably learn a thing or two from centenarians around the world.
Are you looking for a community that provides a positive, healthy atmosphere where you can live out your golden years? The Shores of Lake Phalen is an assisted living community in a quiet, peaceful environment in Maplewood, Minnesota. Surrounded by a gorgeous wooded setting between two lakes, our residence offers the accessibility of apartment-style housing with the atmosphere and elegance of a resort. We offer numerous health and safety amenities, fun events and activities, a friendly and accommodating staff, and so much more. Schedule a tour of the community to explore our spacious apartments, elegant dining room, and more. We look forward to hearing from you!