I am still young, well relatively. And I am healthy. One day, I hope to become old. Like really old. 101 is my aim. You see, my grandmother is old – almost 90. And my great grandmother was old when she passed away.
But the important thing to take note of is that they are and were healthy too. My grandmother walks 10 000 steps every day, drinks wine, plays bridge, sews, belongs to a garden club, and entertains her friends every week.
Dale Bredesen, Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, has written a ground-breaking book, The End of Alzheimer’s, which states that people of all ages should follow certain lifestyle protocols to improve cognitive health and prevent cognitive decline.
Dan Buettner also did a famous study on Blue Zones. They identified seven geographic areas around the globe where people live longer. Is it something in the water? Maybe a mud detox or special kind of yoga? No, not at all. It turns out, the biggest contributors to longevity for these communities is social interaction and taking it slow.
After sleeping for no less than eight hours a night, these centenarians calmly make their way to the market to buy fresh food every day. They don’t rush, they go by foot. It’s a well-known fact that walking is one of the best exercises to lower blood pressure and increase happy thoughts. They stop to chat to their neighbours, maybe have an espresso. Side note: coffee has been proven to decrease your chances of Alzheimer’s significantly. They have a laugh and make plans for sundowners – after siesta of course. Meals are enjoyed with family and friends – savouring the taste, as well as the moment. Later, they meet for a game of cards or chess. Essentially, these people are not lonely. The French have a saying – the difference between a man of 70 and a man of 30 is 40 years more experience! Ageing should be happy and revered.
And it could be. By applying the principles to happy longevity.
I remember when I turned thirty, someone told me: “You do realise the wrinkles you have now are due to sun exposure from your teenage years.” But there was no turning back the clock – my teenage years were long gone. It’s the same with cognitive health, you need to address it early to prevent decline. But no worries if you haven’t started yet. According to Bredesen, Alzheimer’s can be preventable and reversible.
My grandmother still remembers my friends from grade school, but I’m sure she loses her keys occasionally (don’t we all). But she’s still sharp as a tack because she practices Dr Bredesen’s methods without even knowing it. I think Dan Buettner forgot to visit South Africa. I can name a few places where people are happily approaching their 100th birthday!
Now that I know the secret to longevity, I will do it all. I will siesta, socialise, sleep, drink wine, intellectually challenge myself, read, write, play sudoku, and stress less. I will do it all for the chance at longevity – happy longevity! Just like my grandmother.