With the start of a New Year, many of us resolve to lose weight, stay or get fit, and to stop smoking, all things that may help lead to a long and healthy life. While these resolutions are often hard to stick to, any adjustment you make towards living a healthier lifestyle is a step in the right direction.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have longevity in our families. My grandmother (paternal side) was the only grandparent I knew. She lived to be 89, but to me always seemed “old”. Fast forward, my mother will be 91 this month and shows no signs of letting up or giving up. She maintains a house, drives, hangs out with a much younger crowd and has a zest for life. Admittedly, her social life puts mine to shame.
It is not unusual to see many deaths in the obituaries for folks in their early, mid or upper 90s. My Dad’s Almanac sidekick, Ken Conner, was lifting weights at a gym at 96 and passed at 99 1/2…. never ill. But what about the super old – those over 100. In the past month I have read about Jiroemon Kimura of Japan – the oldest person on earth born April 19, 1897. In the US, Dina Manfredini of Iowa passed at 115. This weekend, it was reported that Mamie Readen of South Carolina passed away at 114 years after holding the oldest title for 2 solid weeks.
The oldest all time person was Jeanne Louise Calment of France who mastered 122 + 164 days on this earth. Yikes. In the 1997 Farmers’ Almanac, we looked for the secrets of living 100 and beyond. Included in the article was Fred Hale of Maine., At the time he was 105 years of age. He still shoveled snow off his roof until 103 and only gave up his license at 108 (a world record). I spoke at an elder luncheon with Fred in the room when he was 107. But, his greatest accomplishment was living to the ripe old, old age of 113 (12 days shy on his next birthday).
OK – some people live long enough to set a record. We strive to lose weight, stay fit and stop smoking. But, how long do you and I want to live? Is it OK to be 100 and if so, under what conditions. Fred left Maine for Syracuse, NY, to live near his 85 year old son after cataract operations at 109 and 110. In my case, when I was 7 years old, my Dad started to drop hints about editing the Farmers’ Almanac. His best selling point was that no editor ever died before the age of 86. That sounded reasonable then and it still does. But, what is your life long goal?? Assuming good health, how long do you want to live?