Would you like to know the key to a long life?
The Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at the University of NSW is investigating what makes those aged 95 and over live for so long.
It’s the first study of its kind in Australia and the data collected for the Sydney Centenarian Study is yielding valuable insights in the cognition, physical health, mental health and health care needs of centenarian and near-centenarians.
Last year, 50 new participants were recruited for the ongoing study of people aged 95 years and over. (There are 395 participants in the study.)
What do we know already?
"We know that genetics plays an important role in determining how long we live, with the importance of genetic factors becoming stronger at the upper limits of the life span. Our team is examining the DNA and RNA profile of our cohort as well as younger age groups to determine the major genetic factors that influence longevity. We're also using modern brain imaging techniques to explore the structural and functional characteristics of the brains of exceptionally old people," said Professor Perminder Sachdev, who leads the Sydney Centenarian Study.
The average age of the participants is 97.37 years, with 72.5 per cent of the population being women.
Characteristically, many of the participants feel satisfied with their lives, experience low forms of psychological distress and commonly live independently. They are seen as examples of successful ageing, as many of them have escaped disease or delayed illness until very late in their lives.
The key to a long life?
Professor Perminder Sachdev continued: "They are a resilient lot - life does throw curve balls but they appear to come back with vigour. This seems to come up in all studies of centenarians."
“Staying fit and trim to avoid diabetes and high blood pressure is important. Seventy per cent of those who live past 100 manage to get lucky and avoid catching any nasty diseases, like cancer,” reported Liam Mannix on the study for ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.
“The rates of heart disease and diabetes were lower than in those aged in their 80’s, rates of psychological distress have been low, satisfaction high with life, dementia not inevitable and independent living was common,” concurred Professor Perminder Sachdev.
“Studies show that the very old tend to worry less, be more outgoing and agreeable, and are typically highly satisfied with their lives. In personality tests they scored low on neuroticism,” reported ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.
A low calorie plant-based diet with little red meat is recommended. Regular exercise is also vital, as is catching up with friends and staying socially active, which is a form of mental exercise.
Want to learn more?
Find out how a good laugh coupled with moderate exercise can boost the mental health of older people – Laughter is the best medicine for your mental health.
And, to learn how to live longer and happier, click here.
About Oxley Home Care:
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We provide an extensive range of support from low level to high level and complex personal care.
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