Secrets To Live To Your 100th Birthday

Secrets To Live To Your 100th Birthday

Secrets To Live To Your 100th Birthday

I can''t remember having met anyone who lived to their 100th birthday, although I know it happens. My wife and I joke that we''re going to live to 102 and 100 and die together, after both receiving our 100th birthday gifts from our kids. What are our odds and how do we make it there?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, today, more than 70,000 Americans are 100 years old, and that number will grow dramatically during the next century. Unless I''m off on my math, that''s about 1 in every 5,000 Americans. So the American centenarian is a rare, but a growing part of the population.

Because our goal is to age this well, I''ve done a little research on centenarians who''ve made it their 100th birthday. My wife and I have decided against holding their secrets to ourselves, because we''ll want some folks our age to hold a dance with for our 100th birthday party. So, without further adieu, we reveal the fountain of youth.

The "New England Centenarian Study" by Thomas Perls M.D., M.P.H. examines people age 100 and above in order to help everyone else learn how to age well. Most important is to avoid smoking, eat well, and exercise. As Mormons, this part didn''t bother us too bad, but we have some friends who might drop out of the centenarian race just for their favorite unhealthy habits. "Who wants to go to your party without smoking and drinking anyway?" They''d probably say.

Dr. Perls has created a calculator on www.livingto100.com that estimates your life expectancy. I took the test and it told me I''m only going to make it to 90 years. Dang it. Here''s what I''m going to have to fix:

1. Move my exercise from 3 to 6 times per week (will give me 5 years).

2. Start going to the Doctor for checkups (will give me 2 years).

3. Reduce my stress level and the hours I work every week (3 years).

Those changes will get me there, but I wonder about number three. Some sage centenarians have hinted otherwise.

Richard Bird, an attorney in Utah, says, "My feeling is that people who stop working die...this (coming daily to the office) keeps me interested, it keeps me alive, and that''s why I continue to do it." (see Deseret Morning News, April 13, 2007). I tend to agree with Bird, the thought of retirement sounds boring and unfulfilled. I''m going to keep on working and serving until I receive my 100th birthday gift.

NPR tells the story of the 100 year old on Wallstreet, Irving Kahn. He rang the New York Stock Exchange bell on his hundredth birthday and still serves as chairman of an investment management firm. I think he''d side with Richard Bird and with me, rather than with Dr. Perls.

My last piece of advice, by far the most humorous, comes from Edward Rondthaler, who writes a weekly column for his local newspaper, walks a half-mile every morning and drives himself on errands around his hometown of Croton-on-Hudson, New York (CNN, November 16, 2005). Rondthaler recounts, "When my brother in 1918 came home from the army, he said, ''Ed, whenever you take a hot shower, end it with an ice cold one and count to 100.'' When your older brother tells you to do something, you do it...I''ve learned to count pretty fast. It gets you out of the tub quickly."

There you have it folks, the secrets to attending our dance party and joining us in opening our 100th birthday gift. Don''t smoke or drink, keep working and living and take cold showers. We hope to see you there.

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