3 things nonagenarians know
Queen Elizabeth is the poster monarch for active nonagenarians.
She turned 90 on April 21, and she’s still going strong, waving to crowds alongside her husband, Prince Philip, still handsome at 95.
Let’s look at the lives of residents in their 90s or close to it who have managed to grow older without being sick.
Here are three traits these people share — wisdom that can help folks of every age.
1. The older you are, the better your mental health
A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry revealed that happiness increases with age.
They studied 1,546 people ages 21 to 99. Although older people have more aches and pains, they also have more satisfaction, happiness and well-being and less stress, anxiety and depression.
Why? It’s unclear, but the senior author, Dr Dilip V. Jeste, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, had some suggestions, as quoted in The New York Times:
“Brain studies show that the amygdala in older people responds less to stressful or negative images than in a younger person,” he said. “We become wise. Peer pressure loses its sting. Better decision-making, more control of emotions, doing things that are not just for yourself, knowing oneself better, being more studious and yet more decisive.
“This is good news for young people, too,” he added. “You have something to look forward to.”
2. They look back with happiness and look ahead with hope
Mae Mackay of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is 95 and still has lots of living to do.
She goes to the gym, exercises at home to combat arthritis four times a week, socialises with friends, takes the stairs and walks briskly whenever and wherever she can.
“My mom has always been in good health,” says Mae’s daughter Kathryn Mackay Kislevitz. “My earliest memories are of her standing on her head practicing yoga at home. She remains a constant source of inspiration to me and her grandchildren. If you were to ask me what has contributed to her long life, it would be the combination of exercise, healthy diet and a perpetually happy outlook on life despite the many obstacles life has thrown her way.”
Lillian M. Wagner-Dykhuis is 97 and still driving around Boynton Beach, Florida, as a member of the police department’s Citizen Observer Patrol. She’s volunteered more than 500 hours.
She does the Sudoku puzzle in The Palm Beach Post each morning to stay sharp.
And even though all her siblings and two husbands died a long time ago, she does not dwell on the loss.
“I take time each day to be grateful to my God, family and friends for the wonderful memories. Everything reminds me of the things I did. I am thankful, every day, for the full, long life I’ve lived.”
3. They take from life
Belle Roberts is 105 and still sharp and outgoing. She lives in an independent residence at The Tradition of the Palm Beaches and could power-walk around the campus until she turned 102.
“Belle has a fantastic attitude and she is totally ‘with it.’ She is an avid reader, and wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and has a lot of friends,” says Greg Goodman, communications manager of Morse Life. “Last time I ran into her outside of The Tradition of the Palm Beaches, she was eating dinner with a group of friend’s at Duffy’s.
“At 105, she is a wonderful role model — a real case study about the effect that staying positive has on long life.”
Her motto: “Take from life whatever you can.”
Her attitude: Relationships, nature and the finer things are there for you to enjoy, and you deserve it.
Belle spends her life practicing what Dr Christiane Northrup articulates in her book, “Goddesses Never Age.”
“How do you feel about yourself? The No. 1 relationship that determines the quality of all the others in your life, and sets the tone for them, is the one you have with yourself,” Northrup writes. “Are you willing to learn to love yourself enough to discover your depth, own your beauty, and articulate your deepest desires? Or are you going to neglect the work of mining your inner treasures while waiting for someone else to sweep into your life and rescue you from your loneliness, your yearning and your despair? Each of us is confronted with this choice every day.”
90 and beyond
According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics:
- The 90-and-older population nearly tripled over the past three decades.
- There are nearly 2 million folks 90 or older.
- 90-and-older folks make up 5 per cent of the nation’s seniors.
- By 2050, the 90-and-older population is expected to be 10 per cent of the nation’s seniors.
- The 90-and-older population is overwhelmingly white (88 per cent).
- More than 80 per cent of women 90 and older were widowed, while more than 40 per cent of men this age were married.
According to the Vanguard Group:
- A 65-year-old woman has a 53 per cent chance of living to age 85 and a 32 per cent chance of living to age 90.
- A 65-year-old man has a 41 per cent chance of living to age 85 and a 20 per cent chance of living to age 90.
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