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Longevity and Quality of Life

/ / Sass Savvy & Success

The older we get the more aware we become of longevity and what constitutes quality of life.

Perhaps it’s partly my previous career in ElderCare, or the fact I moved and took care of my dementing mother for the last few years of her life, or maybe it’s the awareness I can now say “Fifty years ago…” and I know what I’m talking about.

I follow several researchers in the area and I’m on several newsletter mailing lists to keep up on what they’re finding and what they’re recommending.

>> An aside:  I was quite pleased this morning to readWine @ 5as a daily ritual in manyBlue Zones”. <<

Enter… Healthy Centenarians

There seem to be several areas in the world where centenarians are not unusual… and they are healthy centenarians!  Four of these areas are Sardinia, Okinawa, Ikaria, and Nicoya, Costa Rica.

The traits these groups have in common include some self-sufficiency (farming, animal husbandry); activity (they don’t rely on technology for their regular chores); a long-term, multi-generational community of family and friends who live similarly; purpose (they still perform duties within their family/friend groups); and a plant-based diet (meat is still a part of the diet, but infrequently).

The thing these areas have in common are some isolation (islands and/or mountainous regions) and a location within 18° in either direction of the Tropic of Cancer.  This latter fact becomes a point in the discussions around healthy longevity that I have with my Canadian friend and colleague, Judith, who is questioning the fact that ElderCare in Canada is always framed as though loss of health, mobility and socialization is a given when there is plenty of proof that it is not.

Have we grown too far away?

Given all the facts I just mentioned, I’m curious if the “industrialized” countries many of us inhabit have grown too far away from longevity enhancing habits.  I realized we all have stories about a centenarian or two… but the fact they are stories of note suggests they are not the norm.

I’m curious what you think.

If usefulness (even full-on ‘jobs’) and large social/family community are mainstays, the combination is pretty rare in my country.  Apparently Okinawans don’t even have a word for retirement.

As I get older I love the concept of living in community, whether genetic family or created family.  I love slowing down to relish a cool morning, the song of the birds, the feel of plucking an apple off a tree, sharing a glass of wine with friends.  To spend an afternoon preparing a meal with friends, most of which has come from our gardens, would be a dream come true.

How is aging viewed where you live?

As I know some of you hail from not-Canada I’m curious to know how aging is viewed in your country, and by your government.  Are older people considered a burden to financial/medical systems?  Do younger generations speak with annoyance about elders or do they value them for their knowledge and stories?

Living in a city, with my history in ElderCare, I know a lot of families feel that ‘homes’ are the answer to frailty in an elder.  But… I also know a lot of people who embrace the elders in their family, loving the memories, the old recipes, the tall tales… secure in the knowledge that love trumps so many things and, at the end of a life, the value received far outweighs any sacrifice made and the narrative lives on.

Apparently my antidote is a glass of wine?

It’s not my style to end on a heavy note so I will mention my daughters argue over who will get to take care of me in my dotage, figuring that a glass of wine will solve all my problems (or any that I cause)… but that I shouldn’t drink alone!



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2 years ago

Here in the USA I don’t feel that older folks are appreciated. I doubt that I would ever be put in a facility but one never knows. The women in my family usually live to the mid to late nineties and I have every intention of living well til at least 100. When I say well I mean able to be productive and healthy.

Christie Hawkes
2 years ago

I see a mix of attitudes in the United States. There are a lot of elderly barely getting by or seemingly forgotten in homes, but I also see a growing trend of respect for the elderly and an interest in their experiences and knowledge. Our son-in-law’s grandmother lived with their family while their children were young. They learned by example and direct experience to care for, and respect, the elderly. I’ve seldom seen teenagers so aware of those around them in need of assistance, or just a small courtesy–holding a door, offering to carry someone’s bags, or whatever else may… Read more »

2 years ago

I too follow many of the writings on longevity and am trying to begin regular practice of them and encouraging them in my mom (aged 85)! I’m not sure how the baby boomers moving into “eldercare years” will change things, but I do believe they will. While we are not near the Tropic of Cancer nor the marketing media target (which remains young), too many of us are actively pursuing connections, active lifestyles, and new passions to not make some impact on this life stage.

Visiting from MLSTL!

Leanne |

I agree with what Sue said about aged care in Australia. I actually think it’s going to get worse with our generation because our children don’t have the same sense of obligation towards their elders that we have. My adult kids live a fair distance away and neither would be interested in having elderly parents living with them or even nearby – so I guess it’ll be the old folks home for us when the time comes (and hopefully a nice volunteer like Sue to visit me!)

2 years ago

This was an interesting read! I love that they don’t have a word for retirement. My father in law has just passed away and we are staying with my mother in law, trying to help her come to terms with her new lifestyle. It’s not easy but she’s determinedly to stay in her own home and we will visit her frequently. Australia is trying to ensure the elderly can stay in their own homes but more help is required to make it work. Nice to visit you from #mlstl

sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

Hi Agnes, I have also written about the Okinawans and their secret to longevity. Living in Australia, I don’t believe that aged people are respected enough. I visit and volunteer regularly at my MIL’s (92 years young)an aged care home.Whilst it brought her back to life and a life full of activities and security, there are many residents who never receive visitors and all they really want is someone to say ‘hello’ and a smile. I love your idea of living in a community when you are older. For me, having lost my parents at 63 & 66 and my… Read more »