Living a long and healthy live

Last month I attended a very interesting lecture with the title of “Healthy Longevity.” Now it may be because I am part of the Baby Boomer generation, or it could have something to do with just officially retiring from one of my jobs, but I found the topic and the speaker gave me lots to think about later.

The speaker, an ISU professor of sociology who specializes in gerontology, believes that longevity is the Social Revolution of the 21st century. And here I thought that aging is just something that, if we’re blessed, we all cope with.

At the lecture, I learned that these are five core dimensions of longevity:

Good Genes and Family Longevity

There was a nearly audible gasp in the room when the lecturer said that this factor contributes only 20 percent to how long we live. It’s very easy to blame our problems on heredity, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. This could be good news or bad news, depending on your family.

Resilient Personality

This trait is valuable at any age, and probably even more as we age. It seems to me that if resilience is a lifelong habit, it would be especially valuable at this stage of life.

Strong Environmental Support and Community Connectedness

This is one of my favorites, because I’m a big fan of community in any setting, And I think most people are looking for that in their lives, whether they realize it or not. It is truly a blessing to have friends and family who are your people. It turns out that can influence how long one lives.

Good Health and Chronic Disease Management

I guess we all understand this one, whether we like or not. We must take care of ourselves.

Responsible Health Behaviors

Healthy food choices and activity have an impact on how long we live, of course. It sounds like it’s worth the investment of time and energy to implement healthy choices. We all know what we should do, of course, and we are bombarded on all sides with information on the topic. So why is it difficult to just do it?

Of course, we can choose to influence our healthy longevity by engaging in effective lifestyles (exercise, nutrition, support). Or we can just sit back and do nothing. What makes it a challenge is that engaging in a healthy lifestyle brings with it no guarantee that we will have a good, rewarding old age.

The professor had spent some time with the world’s oldest person, a woman born in 1899. Her advice on achieving a long life? “Honesty, honesty, just keep up honesty, and you will live a long life. The rest is up to the power above.”