My Mom is of the opinion that because her mother and father died at age 80 and 78, respectively, that she will too. She just turned 75, is in excellent health, and doesn't smoke or have any unhealthy habits like that. How can I convince her to be more optimistic and not count down the days until she departs from this Earth? Longevity is more than about genetics, isn't it?
Dear Needs convincing,
You are correct; longevity is more than about genetics. Dr. Gary Small, Director of the UCLA Center on Aging, believes that overall health is only one-third genetics, but two-thirds lifestyle so we have more control over how long and well we live. Years can be added to ones life by improving quality of life through nutrition, exercise, and living environment (Small cited in UCLA Center on Aging, 2006).
In brief below are Dr. Small's 8 strategies for keeping the mind sharp and body young (2006):
1. Keep your mind active: Lifelong learning may protect brain cells and stave off the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
2. Concentrate on the positive: Positive thinking boosts the body's immune system. Optimists have less pain and higher energy levels.
3. Develop healthy relationships: socially connected people extend their lifespan by 20%.
4. Reduce stress: stress is a leading cause of age-related disease. Stress busters such as physical exercise and simple relaxation techniques Make time every day to do something good for yourself.
5. Control your living environment: eat right, exercise, reduce clutter, smoke and smog in your living space.
6. Exercise regularly: walking just 10 minutes a day can improve your health and reduce your risk for Alzheimer's disease.
7. Enjoy healthy eating: eat all of your favorite foods - including desserts. Eat delicious and healthy foods in moderate portions. Fish [Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee do NOT recommend fish, see How Not To Die], olive oil, whole grains, healthy carbohydrates and antioxidant fruits and vegetables help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
8. Keep current on medicines and treatments: follow doctor's instructions regarding medications, keep up-to-date on treatments and technologies that help you feel younger and live longer.