The Secrets of the Centenarians: How to Live to 100!

The Secrets of the Centenarians: How to Live to 100!

When Helen Boardman was once nonetheless a girlish 99, she fell in love again–with a
younger man.

“I robbed the cradle,” laughs the trim centenarian, who married a man
twenty years her junior for “companionship,” she says slyly. “Bill was once
lonesome—I wasn’t!–but I loved his business enterprise and we had the equal
interests. So we fell in love.”

It did not damage that Bill Boardman had the identical last name.

“That was a coincidence,”adds Bill. “She kept getting my checks, I bought her
bills, so out of necessity, we had to get married!”

Nowadays, the twosome frequently perform collectively in performs at Friendship
Village, an unbiased living facility outdoor of Chicago where they share a
one-bedroom apartment. Helen writes, directs, and stars in the productions.

“I don’t get nervous…I’m over all that,” she shrugs nonchalantly.

She’s 107. He’s 86.

Still romance after eight years? “A little,” Helen laughs, “when he is real great
to me, which is most of the time. He’s a right guy.”

“To be flawlessly frank, ” notes Bill, “Helen does not appear 20 years older at
all. She’s in no way acted like an historical lady. Last New Year’s Eve, we stayed up till
midnight dancing. I think she’s maintained her youth quite well!”

Indeed, decked out in pearls and a clever black-and-white checkerboard
dress, nestled into a sofa in her dwelling room, the female born in June, l896,
says: “I experience younger inside…I’d say about 60.” She doesn’t even dye her still-
auburn hair. “My mom and father did not go gray either,” she says with pride.
” I guess I’m ingesting from the Fountain of Youth.”

“Sometimes,” she adds, miffed through those around her in their 80’s and 90’s
who complain about their health, “I experience like a youngster in an historical folk’s home!”
An avid reader, e book reviewer, and world traveler, with 12 trips to Europe
under her belt, Helen also recites poetry, gardens, flower arranges, and lifts
weights daily!

“Just one or two or kilos every arm,” she demurs of her bicep curls.

Her secret of longevity? “Strawberry shortcake!” she smiles sweetly. “One
big piece, each day.”

* * * * *

The Centenarian Jackpot

The super Helen Boardman is no longer alone. In the U.S. today, there are
more than 50,000 centenarians, the nation’s quickest growing age group.
Although the modern-day lifestyles expectancy for the common American is 76.9 years, by using
the 12 months 2050 there will be an estimated one million humans living to 100
That’s good sized progress. In 1900, the common life span prolonged to age forty seven
In 1800, it was a mere 30 years-old.

“The secret to achieving 100 currently is a aggregate of genetics,
lifestyle choices, mental acuity, and simply simple luck!” notes Thomas T. Perls,
M.D., creator of Living to 100: Lessons in Living to Your Maximum Potential at
Any Age (Basic Books).

This landmark book, written with Margery Hutter Silver, Ed.D. is primarily based on
the ongoing New England Centenarian Study, begun in l994, which reveals that
old age can be filled with lucidity, mobility, and top health.1

“Of the 1,500 centenarians in our study,” says Perls, “a extraordinary majority
were in excellent structure the extensive majority of their lives. Rather than amassing
damage, they’re definitely shedding it.”

How so? “Most human beings trust the older you get, the sicker you get, a very
pessimistic point of view. The centenarians we’ve met reveal the
opposite: the older they get, the healthier they’ve been. I name them centenarian
jackpots. From a medical standpoint, they’ve been able to markedly prolong or
altogether break out diseases that we usually associate with aging–like coronary heart
disease, cancer, stroke, or Alzheimer’s.

“I have not had anything,” notes Helen Boardman. No diseases. No
medications. “I take an aspirin occasionally,” she admits, for hip pain.

“Freed from any major illness,” says Dr. Perls, “many centenarians like
Helen are cooking their very own meals, balancing checkbooks, using their own
cars, lifting weights, enjoying bridge, and studying novels, and socializing with
family and friends.

Some are even competing in the Senior Olympics. Take, for example,
another outstanding centenarian, Marguerite Kuekelhan, born in August l897.
At age 105, she’s the world document holder (in her age class) for shotput! Last
July, at the Washington State Senior Games in Olympia, the 97-pound athlete
could be seen hurling a 6 half of pound steel ball 6 feet into the air

Her secret? “I think it is the spirit within you,” she says crisply. Being 90 or
100 is no excuse for inactivity? “Heavens no! I attempt not to let age keep me down
at all.
This yr I’m making an attempt to spoil my file and make it better,” says 4-foot 10
inch dynamo, who hopes to beat her quality exercise throw at 7’6″.

Is all this fun? “No,” she groans. “The ball is very heavy; I’d as an alternative jump a
rubber ball.” In fact, she recently performed exhibition basketball against the
Seattle Supersonics, warning the crowd: “Before I get started, I haven’t
dribbled in about one hundred years!”

That’s for sure. A widow after fifty five years of marriage, Marguerite lives alone
in a tidy condo in an impartial residing facility in Olympia, does her own
cooking and cleaning, usually makes use of the stairs, and does her leg and ankle
exercises each morning to maintain energy and stability for the shotput.

“And I nonetheless drive,” she says with pride, “though I’m giving that up when I
turn 106 this August. I just feel as if my reactions are now not as rapid as they
used to be. But I nonetheless see very very properly and I hear properly too–though I had to
get one of these things! [a listening to aid].
* * * * *
Genetic Booster Rockets

What in the world is going on here? A female getting married at ninety nine and
starring in plays? Another shotputting and dribbling a basketball? What
Fountain are they ingesting from?

“These centenarians,” notes Dr. Perls, “are blessed with what I name ‘genetic
booster rockets’, a built-in biological benefit which boosts them above the
norm. Anyone residing to extreme old age has this genetic edge. They have been
endowed with the ‘Rolls Royces’ of genes, what scientists name ‘super genes,”
which act as sturdiness insurance. These genes slow down ageing and minimize the
risk of contracting diseases. Centenarians in our study who lived to 105 usually
died of pneumonia, or even a household accident–having by no means developed any
chronic ailment of aging. For sure, excessive historical age runs in families.”

Both Helen and Marguerite’s parents lived into their 80’s, with shut
relatives of each topping 102.

Even with common genes, however, it is feasible to extend toughness extra
than ever before, says Dr. Perls: “Not lengthy ago, eighty five was once viewed ancient.
Now it’s rather handy to attain that age if you play your cards right. It all
boils down to 4 simple things: not smoking, keeping a healthy diet,
strength training, and averting excessive sun publicity and alcohol. Those are
the biggies.”

One such example is the nation’s oldest man, 113-year-old Fred Hale, born
in New Sharon, Maine on December 1, l890, when Benjamin Harrison was

Up till age 107, the retired railway clerk lived by myself in a three-story
farmhouse in Maine, traipsing up and down stairs, shoveling snow off the roof,
chopping wood, hunting, fishing, mowing grass, gardening, and beekeeping–
producing his very own honey and bee pollen, a lifelong passion.

He was once still using his own car, making him the oldest American ever to
hold a driver’s license in accordance to the Guinness Book of Records.

At 113, Hale is in a special classification unto himself, viewed a “super-
centenarian,” described as every body dwelling one hundred ten or longer. There is one super-
centenarian per million in the population, a whole of 260 in the U.S. today. “We
don’t but recognize what units these people apart,” says Dr. Perls. “They have no
major illnesses, and even their listening to and vision don’t typically deteriorate
until their late 90’s.”

Hale, each of whose parents lived to 91, has, in recent years, beat
pneumonia and hip substitute and had cataract surgery. “No diseases, no
nothing,” he exclaims, “except for some arthritis,” which is cured, he believes,
with a teaspoon of bee pollen taken with each meal.

Although a few falls sooner or later compelled him into the Syracuse Home, a
retirement neighborhood in Syracuse, N.Y., he persevered the usage of a walker until age
112, hiking 1/2 a mile a day. His mental acuity and active experience of humor
remain undimmed.

How did he live on so long? “Oh, I don’t know, punishment, I guess!” he

When reflecting on it, he credits his longevity to a right diet, plenty of relaxation (up
at 6 a.m., to bed at eight p.m.) never smoking, and preserving busy.

“The secret is work,” he declares. “Don’t sit around. Keep a suitable attitude. I
always cherished to work. When I went home, I obtained 5 hours sleep, and then went
to work in my garden. I can still stoop down and pick out up a handkerchief better
than most of them!”

* * * * *

Use It Or Lose It

Until Fred Hale used to be 111, he studied the Reader’s Digest ‘Word Power’
vocabulary workout religiously, trying out himself on new phrases weekly. His work
ethic and intellectual curiosity point to another key ingredient in the durability
marathon: exercising the brain.

“It’s actually use it or lose it,” says Dr. Perls. “The key to mental energy is
continually learning some thing new, which builds fresh connections between
brain cells.

“For instance, crossword puzzles (verbal functions), bridge (memory
functions) and tricky jigsaw puzzles (visual-spatial functions) all preserve the
mind sharp. Equally beneficial is painting,writing poetry, making sculpture, or
learning a new language. We’ve also determined that tune is a effective vaccine
against dementia and the onset of Genius disease. I knew a 102-year-old who
was by no means in her room at the nursing domestic because she used to be too busy playing
Mozart and Chopin recitals in the track room! Doing any of these things
allows you to hold attention and memory, and the potential to plan, organize,
and exercising self-care.

“I suppose the thinking has a lot to do with the way you feel,” says Helen
Boardman, till recently a voracious reader who spent a lifetime writing book
reviews for libraries and turning biographies into plays. Two years ago, she
even completed her memoirs, titled: “105 and Counting,” earlier than her imaginative and prescient
began to fail.

“Staying home and observing TV was in no way my pleasure at all,” says Helen,
who does tune into C-Span for the e book reviews. She believes the secret of
longevity is: “Curiosity. I love to see the world and I love people. Everybody has
some top in them. If you are curious about things, you may search them out.”

She marvels at the technological miracles spread over the three centuries
which her lifetime has spanned, but she recounts, with equal pleasure, her days
in a horse and buggy: “I drove to excessive college every day in my buggy. Maudie
was a retired beige race horse and I cherished her! When we bought our first
automobile, she was once put out to pasture. We widely wide-spread the auto proper away, sure–
but isn’t always a horse more fun?”

Fun counts in Helen’s world. She even tried white-water rafting at 90: “The
ticket vendor stated that the solely requirement was that you had to be at least eight
years old. I advised myself: ‘If an 8-year-old can do it, I can!” * * * * *
“Good Training” and The Centenarian Personality

Although many can also surprise if eating regimen has plenty to do with the superb
health of centenarians, “it’s not possible to recognize because dietary habits have
changed so dramatically over the years,” says Dr. Perls. Most processed meals
did now not exist during the centenarians’ formative years; retaining used to be performed by using
pickling, smoking, and salting; and sparkling fruit was much less available. “Some ate
very little pink meat, others ate it each and every day with bacon and eggs!–and both
types lived to 100.” Nowadays, however, there may be little doubt, says Perls, that
“good training,” — exercise and perfect diet–contribute mightily to dwelling to

“The secret of living a lengthy life is way of life as much as anything,” thinks
Helen Boardman. “I’ve always taken exercise, I do not go for liquor, and I never

“I’m no longer fond of pink meat at all,” she continues. “I decide on vegetables, fruit,
chicken and fish. And when I’m no longer feeling too well, I have oatmeal. Growing
up on the family farm, we constantly had it in the morning, and I still love it!”
Chocolate cake? “Unacceptable however delicious!” she laughs.

Fred Hale, at 113, also eats relatively and drinks no espresso or tea. His
diet? “I devour off my fork simply the equal as anybody else!” he teases.

“I constantly devour rolled oats with honey for breakfast,” he explains. “Lunch is
meat and potatoes. And at night, I eat very light–cottage cheese, apple sauce
and toast. That’s it.”

Athletic competitor Marguerite eats “very light, which is simpler on the
stomach,” basically veggies and fruits: “And I don’t use any milk
products. I like soy milk instead. It looks to be less difficult to digest.” No desserts,
she says. Such virtue! “Well, look what the end result is!”

Beyond genetics, lifestyle, and mental acuity, there is any other profound, yet
intangible, thing that influences anyone’s ability to live to a hundred Dr. Perls refers
to it as the ‘centenarian personality’–a stress-reducing attitude that combines
positive thinking with a war spirit.

“Inevitably, most centenarians are upbeat, funny,and gregarious,” he
observes: “It’s very rare I meet a curmudgeon centenarian! They’re not
complainers. In our character testing, they score very low in ‘neuroticism,’ the
expression of negative feelings like fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, or depression.
They’re tremendous and positive in their mindset and jump back without problems from
life’s crises because they don’t internalize thoughts or feelings that reason

“I consider in fine thinking,” booms the athletic Marguerite, a founding
and lifelong member of Unity Church in Olympia. “Mental attitude,” says
Marguerite, who meditates every day to take herself into “a quiet place” is
exceedingly important. “I was always making an attempt throughout my lifestyles to be positive,
but I didn’t get to the height till now….it was once a count number of growth.”

Her shut pal and shotput promoter, John Vlastelia, the president of the
Washington State Senior Games, provides this: “When Marguerite reads in the
newspaper that ‘Flu season in full bloom,’ she constantly says ‘I am no longer going to
get sick,’ and literally wills herself to accurate health.”

“We know,” says Dr. Perls, “that stress–internalizing depression, anger,
worry, fear–is an age accelerator. We’ve observed that centenarians are able to
shake stress off their backs like a duck shakes off water. Many have
experienced magnificent losses and hardships in their lives, yet they’d been in a position to
recover quickly and pass on.”

* * * * *

A Realistic View of Death

Perhaps some of these centenarians will reach even the grand old age
achieved by means of Mme.
Jeanne Calment, the oldest dwelling individual in recorded history, who died in l997,
at age 122.

“The chances of dwelling to 122,” says Dr. Perls, “is 1 in 6 billion. Although I
think the human life span ought to be finally improved into the 130’s, for
most of us, achieving a long time 100-105 is a reasonable wide variety to hope for.”

Centenarians like Helen, Marguerite, and Fred, thriving in the existing as
they do, think very little about their restricted futures.

“Death is some thing that is coming,” says Marguerite matter-of-factly,
priming for competition this July at the shotput: “I be given it as part of my
experience in life, however I do not think about it at all.”

As for Fred Hale, every time his bodily therapist says ‘see you tomorrow,’
the 113-year-old answers: “Perhaps! I’m now not making long-term plans!”

His mind-set towards death? “What took you so long!” he quips merrily.
Then, on a serious note, he adds: “Can’t do whatever about it. Why be afraid?”

This mindset is typical, says Dr. Perls: “I haven’t met any centenarian who
feared death. If anything, they’re very grateful for each day they have and they
just hope for more.”

As for Helen, “sometimes,” she smiles, “I get so sleepy. Anytime I take a seat down, I
just close my eyes. My daughter was speakme about demise the different day and said
she can’t wait to locate out what happens. Well, I feel especially much the equal way.
I have no fear of death. It’s just any other phase when we’re finished with our
work. I’m content material to stop every time now.”

But she brightens at the thought of her younger husband, Bill:

“He’s my incentive!” she says merrily. “My youngsters are all
independent…they don’t want me. Bill does. He wishes someone to boss him! I
look ahead to what is but to come.”

All in all, is being 107 a blessing or burden?

“Both,” she solutions calmly. “It’s a burden due to the fact I was a voracious reader
until I grew to be almost blind. So I’ve misplaced the aspect that I enjoyed the most,
though I can hear to books on tape. But it is a blessing due to the fact of the matters I
still can do. Here’s my poem: “My hearing and vision–neither one are very
good; and I sometimes stumble when I walk; but when you ask me any
question about my life, I certain am satisfied I still can talk!”

“So I’m an OPTIMIST,” she publicizes in parting, “grateful for everything. Every
day. At dinner, every bite is interesting due to the fact I by no means understand what I’m going to
eat. The cup is always full. I have by no means been in want. Everything is good.
Nothing bad.

“After studying my memoirs,” she smiles, “my nephew asked me if there
was anything terrible in my life, and I said: ‘If there was, I forgot it!”

* * * * *

Side-Bar RX

In a lifestyle obsessed with the aid of youth, “people have received to realize,” says Dr. Perls,
“that your 70’s and 80’s can be the most first-rate time of your life. I see
people go after 2d or 0.33 careers, or volunteer activities, beautify
relationships with their families, whilst their experience and wisdom is at their
peaks. Life is their oyster. And it nevertheless can be at 100!”

Here are a few health secrets and techniques for every person on the street to 100, a prescription
from Dr. Perls, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston School of Medicine, and
geriatrician at Boston Medical Center.

Age accelerators to avoid: smoking, sun exposure, immoderate alcohol , high-
fat diet, ionizing radiation, poisonous chemicals, excessive risk-taking, and intellectual
stress. Make fitness, laughter, and enjoyable undertaking a precedence in your life!

Age de-accelerators: Exercise (weight training, aerobics, meditation, yoga); a
diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, with a minimum of meats and
sweets, processed foods, and animal fat or butter.

Supplements: To stop arteriosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s
Parkinson’s, vision problems, cancers, and rheumatoid arthritis, I suggest

*Vitamin E [400-800 IU per day] to forestall and extend cognitive

*Vitamin B complex (with folate)

*Calcium with Vitamin D (to minimize the chance of osteoporosis)

*Omega Fatty Acids #3 and #6 (derived from flax seed oil or fish oil,
availablein capsules, 1,000 mg daily]

*Selenium [100-200 mcg per day].

*Baby aspirin (81 mg) every day which reduces the hazard of coronary heart assault by means of 50%.

*Green tea–noted by means of the Chinese lifestyle for 3000 years as a fitness

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