Longevity and Taking Care of Self
I was thinking about my dad’s longevity the other day and how he defied all reason as he took zero care of himself and his body. Is longevity a matter of luck? A matter of good genes? All of a sudden, as I was pondering that, I came across two articles that were exactly to my point.
One was about a 96 year old grandmother who recently passed away, telling her granddaughter that she never drank water and lived on red wine and coffee, eating anything she wished. (Attached is a list she gave her granddaughter about her longevity)
Another was about a 95 year old celebrating her 95th with two huge ice cream sundaes – the size and kind I have not experienced in years in trying to be a good girl and watching my diet and indulgences. (The photo is included here.)
My dad, Milt, passed away this past summer at the age of 95.5. He followed no health rules, rarely drank water, rarely took his vitamins, did not get exercise or Vitamin D. In fact his doctor prescribed Vitamin D as he was always deficient. I would find it stuffed in napkins in his drawers with the other vitamins he did not care to take. He was a couch potato with very poor posture but no back issues. In fact, he stayed pretty healthy until the very end when a variety of things caught up with him in his last months.
Right now, I take about ten vitamins, drink lots of water, do exercise at least six times a week, try to limit indulgences, and I am starting to wonder why I do all that. Hasn’t genetic destiny already decided my relative longevity, excluding fateful accidents? Why bother? Remember those memes about indulgences where one must decide to throw caution to the wind and live happily if not necessarily until 95ish; or grow old in absolute misery for denying life’s little pleasures?
About my genetics: I take after my father’s side of the family in many ways, and I must say, they were all fed from childhood in the old school recipes of lots of chicken fat, and loads of eggs, and lots of other unhealthy things but all of them lived very long lives.
Since my husband and I entered our sixties decade, we have made the following changes:
All organic products purchased, from food to soap, to just about everything else. No extra chemicals for us!
No nightly ice cream – but found a worthy substitute in Yasso bars.
We take plenty of vitamin supplements and go heavy in trying to get Vitamin D – naturally is the preferred way for me. (Many studies link immunity to Vitamin D levels in the body.)
We both exercise vigorously several times a week – Gary plays hockey and really gets the heart-rate up, and I still do crazy Bikram Yoga and fast paced walking.
We eat things like Cashew yogurt, to reduce dairy, and things like sardines, KALE, and spinach. (For two people who grew up in the junk food capital of the world – Philly – this is a major development. Still those years of cheesesteaks, ice-cream, and other decadence there surely took its toll for the first part of our lives.)
We go to bed earlier, to catch the appropriate amount of sleep.
We limit our alcohol intake.
I no longer eat Cheetos for dinner, and rarely begin with dessert, if we even have dessert. (Again, Yasso bars.) There are exceptions when something irresistible is around such as a recent delicious peach pie. (My favorite fruit pie.)
We snack on unsalted nuts. Speaking of that we have greatly reduced our sodium intake.
I drink about 10 glasses of water a day.
We no longer drink soda.
My husband is obsessed with Tumeric.
We get regular check ups.
Two more of my secrets: ALOE, and Apple Cider Vinegar.
Wow, that is quite a list! And that is not all, but all I am inclined to think up right now.
And all of it is done to defy illness as we age.
A nice by-product of some of the things I do is looking years younger than my natural age of nearing 68. (67 and 3/4 if you must know.)
New people I meet in Bikram Yoga, look at me in my cute yoga shorts and sports bra, and guess my age to be about 20 years younger than I am in reality. Some there have argued that with my legs and arms, there is no way I can be the senior citizen I am. I am seriously keeping up that regimen because I believe the heat and exercise are helping me to age more slowly but again, it could be my genetics. I could be doing absolutely NOTHING healthy and still look this way.
All of our anti-illness-aging techniques are due to wanting to be around to participate in life with our adorable grandchildren as they grow up. We have more incentive now than ever.
But does any of it matter? Isn’t it true that fate could decide for us even if we are healthy and in good shape? Accidents happen. I am going to be very upset if my Snickers Bar lunches that ended with my 50’s was for naught.
SIDE NOTE: I am pleading with everyone my age to please get dressed and undressed in a chair or stool. Bending down to put on socks and shoes, pulling legs out of skinny jeans without support – these are all hazards at our age as I know of two people recently with very bad falls and breaks due to their dressing and undressing regimen not including a chair for support. (And hold on to bannisters too!) I say this because FALLS are the catastrophe we cannot avoid even if we stay extremely healthy.
For this blog post, I would like some feedback. Are you denying your pleasures regularly in favor of healthier habits? Or are you just living your life, come what may? I know that the two women and my dad referenced earlier do the latter, but I want to know from people my age and a bit younger.
(I munched on Kale chips while I typed this. Those who followed my blog like forever, will remember when I typed with Cheetos fingers. I must snack when I write. Who ever knew those words would ever be admitted by me or ever typed on a blog?)