Adopt the ‘longevity attitude’

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an old woman some day—and it’s still a goal I hope to achieve. Maybe it was because I admired my Grandma Moser so much. I loved going to Grandma’s house and as far as I could tell, so did everyone else. Her grandchildren vied for an invitation to stay overnight. Her sons-in-law discussed their business ventures, her sisters shared life’s problems, and her daughters laughed and chatted with her whenever they got a chance. One of the nicest compliments I ever heard for Grandma was when Uncle Joe, himself grown old, said, “She was a mother to me after my mother was gone.” As a child and teenager, it seemed to me the most certain road to popularity was growing old. That’s why even today I read with such interest a book like “The Longevity Strategy—How to Live to 100” by David Mahoney and Richard Restak. Grandma didn’t live to 100. Not close. But given today’s longevity patterns, I just might. And one of my greatest goals in life is learning how to do it well. Both authors of “The Longevity Strategy” are noted authorities on the brain-body connection, and their book is based on the best of current research in this field. The format is 31 practical longevity tactics, which the authors suggest implementing one by one. They call it using the power of your brain to get the longevity attitude! To begin with, you don’t have to worry about the longevity of your ancestors. While genetic predisposition to longevity is one factor, it is only one. It turns out what’s more important than your genes is your behaviour. Researchers focus on three key components of successful aging: a positive attitude toward life; good stress-coping skills; and health-promoting behaviours. Those are all things you can do something about. The authors maintain “None of us can stop aging, but we don’t have to grow old.” This is where the “longevity attitude” comes in. It no doubt would be an oversimplification, but you might define the longevity attitude as a positive attitude both toward life and toward aging itself. The researchers say this attitude makes a huge difference. Centenarians vary in education, economic level, work experience, and religious beliefs. But the one thing they all have in common is optimism. You rarely find a depressed centenarian, say researchers. Most centenarians report the years 97-100 as trouble-free and enjoyable. Many are still working and active, enjoying nature and the arts. We need to know facts like that to give us hope and help us overcome the fear of aging. Implementing the authors’ 31 longevity tactics could be the adventure of a lifetime. So until you get the book, why not get started with these? Develop an optimistic attitude toward life and aging. Drop your stereotypes of old age. Remember “use it or lose it” applies to the body and the brain. Feed your brain with education. Focus on good nutrition for your body. Develop stress-coping strategies. Develop a healthy sense of humour. Implement the suggestions one by one—and use the power of your brain to get the longevity attitude. Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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