Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac

I’m sure many of us in our last quartile have thought: “How much time do I have left?” as we get older and older. I do know that I have. As our bodies slow down, it becomes more and more difficult to “carpe diem.”

Some experts have said our life spans are controlled by our genetics. Others swear that it’s a result of our lifestyles. There really does not seem to be agreement.

I do know that when my paternal grandmother died at 102, she had already buried two of her four children and one of her grandchildren. My own mother got to be 96 when everything just stopped.

So is there any regimen that we should follow to get close to the centenary mark?

The cover story in last week’s “Parade” magazine by Paula Spencer Scott called “Secrets to Living to 100,” answered many questions and contained nuggets I thought worthwhile to pass along.

The author highlights those she calls “super agers” including a 107-year-old guy who tools around Sarasota, Fla. with his 100-year-old fiancee in a red convertible. Then there’s a couple who married in 1939 and are still active and happy. He’s 107 and she’s 105.

There are women who run daily at 103 and 105. And a 102-year-old man who regularly writes music.

These individuals seem to share a sense of involvement with their environments. So what should you do if you are a senior who has never put on a pair of running shoes?

According to the author, it’s never too late to start to grab for those years ahead of us.

Utah cardiologist John Day, M.D., says that,“The best time to start is from childhood. The second best time is today.”

According to Dr. Day, there are 11 steps we can take to put us on the right track. Some of these suggestions are common sense and we’ve heard them before, but taken together there just may be something here.

And even if you do not get to be 100, following these guidelines will probably improve your quality of life significantly.

We should concentrate on eating less. Just enough to maintain a healthy weight. We also should not be afraid to have a drink or two a day — not that the alcohol is great, but the socialization while drinking is good. Researchers also say that religion in your life is a good thing.

It’s also in your best interest to cultivate friendships with healthy friends. Don’t hang out with obese boozers who smoke.

Friendships are important and help avoid loneliness, which can be toxic. Get social time, the author urges.

Try to work on having a good disposition. Experts agree that happy people live longer. And it’s possible to develop a cheerful personality even in later life.

Additionally, brain stimulation is important. I guess that’s why so many of us are addicted to “Jeopardy.” Physical exercise is also very important; adding up to 45 minutes per day can be in the form of going up and down stairs, taking walks and even lifting weights.

A sense of purpose is very good for your body. Find something to do that is beneficial to others.

And finally, the author says that one should eat a mostly plant-based diet.

I probably would have the most difficulty with this last suggestion. I grew up with meat as a diet staple. The neighborhood butcher was important for our diet.

As my 102-year-old grandmother used to say, “Everything in moderation.”