RE: Re: longevity

O'Regan, Emlyn (
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 16:28:48 +1000

> >>I was wondering if any of you had practical and
> >>inexpensive methods of attaining maximal longevity. I
> >>am aware of the obvious methods (exercise, fresh air,
> >>etc...) but have even heard studies that show
> >>information one way or another even regarding these.
> >>I was wondering whether there was any interesting
> >>commentary on this.
> >According to Dr. Dean Edell (, the only empirically
> >validated method of extending longevity consists of restricting caloric
> >intake.
> I've read that exposure to sunlight isn't the best thing for aging,
> either,
> but don't know the details on this. Any dermatologists on the list?
> --Mac Tonnies
There's one other important thing. Stay involved in life. Live like you are sticking around, like you are still young.

My singing teacher is 80, she teaches more than full time (and turns away students by the droves), and she looks like she is 60, max. I work with people in their 50s who look older than her. She is totally mobile, seems very fit, never seems to get sick. When you get to know her it is obvious why - because she is doing what she loves, has been doing it for most of her life, and she actively ensures that she is involved in modern life.

I bet if she had but her feet up and relaxed with age, taken it easier, been gentler on herself, then she'd be dead by now.

My wife's drama teacher is almost the same story - late 70s, looks a bit older than our singing teacher, but then she's a chain smoker. How come she's still kicking on? She's involved. She's doing new things, she doesn't allow the kind of mental hardening of the arteries that kills large chunks of the human population.

My wife was telling me about her grandfather, who died at 83. He was highly active in the Salvation Army at the time, helping old people. He was known to say that he was doing it because "when I get old, I might need help too".

I was talking to my grandfather who lives in a retirement home, has done so for over twenty years. He's on a good deal, because the (fixed) pricing is based around you dying far earlier than this. He was a POW in WWII, and lived through some of the worst conditions you can imagine (unless you normally eat rats to survive). His idea is that you must always have a purpose, a goal. While you are working toward something, your mind is agile, worked, fit. That keeps you alive. Even surviving is a goal in a bad environment, and that goal helps you to survive.

Disturbingly, he uses this stuff as a metaphor for his current situation, living in a retirement home. The unit next door has high turn over (as do many units there) - he says he can usually tell how long the people are going be there (and there's only one way out). He is an avid gardener, and looks after gardens for many residents who have no interest in it (because they all get some land to themselves). Quite often, new people joke to him about his (extensive!) gardening - "What are you killing yourself over that for? I'm not about to start working like that! I'm retired. I'm putting my feet up, watch some telly, take it easy". Six months apparently is the average stay for such a resident.

I wont add any stories about the other side of the coin - most of you will have seen people's minds harden with age, and may have noticed that death follows relatively soon afterwards. What I say is that it doesn't have to be that way. You must live to live. You've got to stay involved, got to always have purpose, drive. A bit of stress is even good for you!

This is not some positive thinking claptrap. If you get cancer, or get hit by a bus, or let your body go entirely while pursuing your goals (hmmmm), then obviously other factors are coming into play. But if you restrict your calories, avoid sunlight, take whatever supplements (antioxidants? etc?) are supposed to keep you going, without purpose you'll probably still drop dead before your time. Except really it probably is your time after all.

(Does this justify my chronic obsessive mentality?) Emlyn