The senior citizen population is quickly growing; but did you know that centenarians are expected to reach the 800,000 mark by 2050? Even more shocking – this number was estimated to be only slightly over 50,000 in the year 2000.* This is a projected 16-fold increase in this segment of the population, within a 50 year period!
The way we handle our stress levels on a day-to-day basis over our entire lives may be the key to longevity. The formula to long life, based on recent studies, appears to be a combination of healthy living + the ability to cope with stress.
According to Senior Journal, researchers from the University of Georgia have concluded, “[h]ow we feel about ourselves and our ability to adapt to an accumulation of challenging life experiences may be as important – or more important – than health factors in determining if we survive to be 100 years old.” The study is published in Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research.
Most studies in the past that have examined longevity have looked at genetics and health habits. But only a few consider mental, social, and psychological factors. The concept of “mind over matter” was expressed by Leonard Poon, lead author of the study, who said “What is happening to you matters, but more importantly, it is your perception of what is happening to you that is really important for your individual health.”
What common traits do healthy centenarians possess? Personality traits like conscientiousness and openness are tied to happiness in old age. Conversely, and as one might expect, neurotic and anxious individuals are less healthy. The research was performed over an eight year period. 240 men and women, age 100 and older, participated in the study.
*According to Leonard Poon, Director of the Institute of Gerontology in the UGA College of Public Health, quoted by Senior Journal.Evan H. Farr on Google +