In our last post Don Ardell contributed to our conversation on Aging and doing it really Well! Don begins by referring to the study he introduced in our last post. Here’s the conclusion of his thoughts and my reply.
What are the key variables here? (in aging well and longevity) Is the ability to live unstressful lives the most important factor? Does living independently lend certain resilience to elderly bachelors and bachelorettes? What about the fact that centenarians carry a number of genes common among those who live to 100 or better? The researchers are not sure, just yet, what to make of it all, but they seek to identify the longevity genes, learn how they work and, as you might expect, create drugs that mimic their actions.
Fortunately, the head investigator wants to focus on healthy life patterns, as well. Most of the study subjects have not been smokers, heavy drinkers or obese. Yet, he also noted that even if you’re Jack La Lanne, you’ve got the perfect diet, you’re exercising for a really long time, you’re happy-go-lucky and incredibly nice and you’re thin, I would say that without the appropriate genetic variations, it’s still extremely difficult to get to 100. Well, sure, we knew that. It’s difficult to get to 90 or 80, as well.
Will You Live To Be 100?
These reports on living to 100 reminded me that I once had a bright idea for making a killing connecting wellness with reaching 100. Unfortunately, ethical considerations shelved my grand plan. No – I’m kidding – the plan was pure and noble, somewhat like life insurance. I even wrote an essay describing the plan – general terms.
It may be time, nearly a decade later, to take another run at testing the feasibility (and legality) of my initial scheme, published on December 29, 2001. If I wait a few more decades, it could be too late – I’ll already be 100 and thus too old to sign up.
In any event, it looks like the time has come to go for it, time to bring back my bright idea.
Here it is – let me know what you think. Perhaps this concept has even more appeal during the ongoing economic crisis. If the feedback from you is encouraging, I might announce a REAL wellness longevity program at NWC (National Wellness Conference) (www.nationalwellness.org) for those who want to associate with other centenarian-status seeking wellites. We can start our own club, and meet here at your website and annually at NWC. It will consist of a secret longevity reading program, special exercise regimens, an eternal diet pattern and much more. So far, none of this is all that special but I have not mentioned the best part yet. Here is the best part — why the “Don Ardell Live To Be 100” program will, if I go through with it, prove utterly amazing, incredibly attractive and a sure thing to sweep the nation into a frenzy for living long and well:
1. It will be guaranteed!
2. It will cost only $100 for life — which will be refunded if you don’t’ make it (provided you ask for your money back – personally)!
3. You will get a club T-shirt AND a lifetime subscription to the ARDELL WELLNESS REPORT. (I know – it’s free anyway, but never mind that.)
Other details will have to wait for a grand announcement.
Well, that’s all I have to say for now.
OK Don! Sign me up! 100 is such a nice round number, why not go for it? Thanks for your contribution to our conversation here. Your refreshingly blunt humor and relevance are always appreciated.
Early on in the wellness movement the nay-sayers were scoffing by saying that since we couldn’t guarantee greater longevity, there was not point in all of this effort to be healthy and well. We humans have always had trouble with this mortality thing (see Greek Mythology!). Now, with research like the work Buettner has looked at in The Blue Zones, that you mentioned, we may be finally silencing some of those old critics.
Remember the “Sixty Minutes” TV show that reported on the early version of the Blue Zones back in the 1980’s. That was the yogurt-eating Cossack stuff we all got quite enamored with. Well, I guess the data was flawed in that work, but Buettner’s summary of the current work being done by anthropologists, epidemiologists, and aging specialists around the world is quite solid. Genetics is overrated! Lifestyle again, rules supreme.
I think the promise of wellness that is there for we folks creeping into geezerhood is, and always has been, about the QUALITY of life. Sure, I’ll take a nice able-bodied lengthy stay here on the planet if I can get it. It is, however, somewhat determined by something the Chinese call “Joss” (something that combines luck, fortune, fate and karma). We can influence the probabilities. That’s it. Hey, but why play “Russian Roulette” with a revolver and put three or four bullets into the six chambers instead of just one? Reducing our risk factors makes sense, there’s a library of research behind that. However, Joss comes in to account for all of those unpredictable factors that make life, death and disability, very real.
We might call it EXISTENTIAL WELLNESS. Living life to the fullest, running (and winning!) Sprint Triathlons at 70 plus like you Don, or beginning to run again at age 60 (after a fifteen year hiatus) like I did last year, are just a couple of ways to maximize our precious existence. Existential wellness is all about our philosophy, our mindset, our view of ourselves and the world. It’s about embracing the adventure in life, and it’s about taking some glucosamine for those aging knees.
The current crop of “Boomer” will not go quietly into the night. They (we) are fueling the “Wellness Revolution” that Paul Pilzer talks about (http://thewellnessrevolution.paulzanepilzer.com/index.php). We are doing walking tours for vacations (link to walking the world), and looking for ways to stay well. As you and Jack Travis have always railed against the “Pill Fairy” mentality – that some medicine would magically keep us well – I’d add that our answers to healthy aging lie in our active bodies, our open minds, and our compassionate hearts. Let’s keep on being well!
Please add your comments to this conversation. Our next posts will reflect our Well Traveler theme as this blogger goes to Italy for a long-overdue vacation in search of La Dolce Vita and what we can bring back to our wellness lifestyles at home.