Shortly before picking up my mother's niece, Edith, and going to lunch, Mom whipped me on the cribbage board. I barely made it beyond the “skunk” line (for those unfamiliar with the game, this line is usually marked on the cribbage board and denotes two things; 1) you performed very poorly; and 2) The game counts as two losses instead of just one, if one were keeping score .
While Mom and Edith were conversing over lunch it occurred to me that with these two, I was eating with two women whose combined age was just three years short of 200! Hard to tell by the way they act and talk. Edith is 92, and Mom is 105. Their topics of conversation are current and no complaints of poor health, aches and pains, etc. It would be something special if we have another outing in a year (combined ages of 200). There's no reason to expect we won't accomplish that milestone. Like my mother, Edith uses the Treadwell® System daily.
So what is the secret of living a long life? One centenarian's response to the oft asked question “What is your secret for living to a hundred?” replied “It’s simple, just be born before all these other people”
As referenced in an earlier blog post, number one seems to be genetics (choose your parents wisely). Where do the other variables rank? Attitude, luck, fate, or divine predestination, whatever philosophy one chooses to embrace. And going forward the Treadwell® System will, with little doubt in my professional opinion, be a key part of supporting longer life spans and as importantly a higher quality of life through better health and wellness.
Attitude and quality of life go together in my mind. Generally, a poor attitude makes for a poor quality of life, and vice versa. And when physical discomfort is consistently present, sometimes it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Exceptions abound, of course, especially among those of strong faith. The mind may be the most powerful part of the human body. I think the quote by Henry Ford, ”Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right” is spot on.
Lifestyle choices around diet, exercise, drug and alcohol use are unquestionably factors in longevity. Surprisingly, and probably to the dismay of some who are proponents of one diet regimen or another, I recently read that diet is number 7 on one prioritized list of what is important for longevity.
Smoking and alcohol: not difficult to find narratives of those who smoke, drank, and lived to be very old. Mom smoked briefly, when she was younger. As she related to my niece, “she didn't inhale!” And an evening cocktail or two was also common for most of my mother's adult life. Not anymore, but she'll still have a cocktail now and then.
Times and attitudes have certainly changed. I am reminded of a story one of my patients told me. Several decades ago, her husband was a vice-president of a dynamic company. This was in the late 1950’s, and cocktail gatherings of the company VP's and their wives were part of the corporate culture. During one gathering, the head of the company (CEO today) took this lady's husband aside and asked if he could get her to start smoking because "she was not fitting in well with the other wives”. That would be counter corporate culture today.
Diseases and conditions are also part of the equation. Many are caused or exacerbated by sub-par blood flow velocity to an area of the body. I cite some kidney and other organ disorders, and neuropathies. Movement=Blood Flow Velocity.
“If you rest, you rust” is a quote by late actress Helen Hayes that I love, and that is right on the mark. The lifestyle changes that have evolved in our society have altered much of what we do during the day. We sit watching screens at work and at home, drive everywhere (sitting); our modernization has lessened our workload, and has decreased the amount of movement we include in our day to day lives. This is being acknowledged in medical research and is often referred to as "Sitting Death Syndrome". Bottom line is after 45-60 min of sitting the body needs to move, otherwise the body begins to suffer from the ill effects of slowed circulation. Exactly how long we need to move and what rate of blood flow velocity that is necessary to prevent the Sedentary Death Syndrome effects has yet to be determined by medical research. The easiest and best way to achieve the necessary movement and blood velocity increase is via the Treadwell® System. It accomplished while sitting, it is easy thus not interfering with all that screen time and it increases blood velocity significantly. The easily attained benefits are the primary reason my mother has defeated congestive heart failure symptoms at age 99 and continues to enjoy a healthy lifestyle at 105, in my professional opinion.
I have consciously kept Mom moving daily with short walks and treadling. It's too easy for the old and old-old to sit for extended periods of time. Pretty easy for the rest of us, too, for that matter.
Hope all is well in your world. Richard