We tend to think of end-of-life issues when we plan for our retirement. Will I have enough cash to last me until the end? Will I have enough to take care of me in my dotage? Will I need to move from my house?
We all try to get answers to these questions. And these are all very real issues for those of us who are septuagenarians. It would certainly be comforting to know that we have a quarter of a century ahead of us to enjoy our children and grandchildren, to enjoy the lives we love to lead on this Island, to appreciate sunrises and sunsets and many of the other joys of our existences.
Thinking about this subject reminded me of a TV commercial from many years ago for Dannon yogurt. I recall it going something like this: Somewhere in the frozen region of Siberia, an old man of about 90 was being interviewed by a reporter about the benefits of yogurt.
“I love the way it tastes and it makes me feel good,” he said, adding that the reporter could get more information, “if you go ask my mother because she likes it too.”
Yes, we do know that diet has something to do with longevity — as do our environment and our genetic makeup. And studies show that perhaps heredity plays the most important role. As they say, “If your parents didn’t have any children, chances are you won’t.”
According to the U.S. census the latest population estimate released in 2015 shows 76,974 centenarians.
Senior Center director Laurie Fanelli gave me an article from Kaiser Health news Medscape that interviewed a few individuals and couples who made it to the century mark.
John Henderson and his wife of 77 years, Charlotte, from Texas were interviewed. Charlotte said she believes that being married helped her reach 100.
“We had such a good time when John retired. We traveled a lot,” she said. “We just stay busy all the time, and I’m sure that helps.”
And 101-year-old Gertrude Siegel from Boca Raton’s outlived two husbands. She says she’s never smoked but occasionally enjoys a glass of dry red wine.
“I am not a big eater and don’t eat much meat,” she added, noting that she stays active walking about a half-hour each day and playing bridge and exercising.
Mac Miller of Pensacola, Fla., says that people ask him what the secret is to a long life.
“The answer is simple, choose the right grandparents and parents,” he said.
Miller was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps during World War II. In his youth, he says, he was active running track, playing football and spending hours surfing.
He is gluten-free because of allergies and does not eat many carbohydrates. He’s never smoked. He still enjoys a scotch in the evening, he said.
The Hendersons usually have wine or a cocktail before dinner. She never smoked. He quit in 1950.
My late mother (she died last year at 96) said she attributed her long life to the fact that she never smoked. Everyone in her family did except her mother.
Neither of my grandmothers smoked. One lived to be 102 and the other lived to be 90. Their husbands smoked and they only made it to 80.
My wife died at 37 and yet her mother made it to 99 and her father 85.
According to the Kaiser Health news Medscape article’s author, Sharon Jayson, “Genetics and behaviors do play roles in determining why some people live to be 100 while others don’t, but they aren’t guarantees.”
As my 102-year-old grandmother used to say, “Everything in moderation.”