How do we live to 100?

Please read this great article by Max Pemberton about getting to 100….below is a section of the article on famous people seeing out their century.

84Lovers of life

Wisecracking comedian Bob Hope reached the 100 mark in 2003, and died a few weeks later. “I’m so old, they cancelled my blood type,” he once joked. The British-born star was as physically active as he was quick-tongued. A voracious womaniser, Hope was also a fanatical golfer, playing well into his nineties. Whatever his secret, it was clearly infectious. His wife Dolores lived to 102.

The late Queen Elizabeth, who lived to 101, cheerfully broke the medical rules, consuming, according to some estimates, 70 units of alcohol a week – five times the recommended number for a woman. Her favourite tipples included gin, Dubonnet, claret and champagne. She was famous for her sense of mischief, led a busy social life, and relaxed by reading PG Wodehouse novels.

The oldest centenarian whose birth date has been reliably documented was a Frenchwoman, Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 (and therefore qualifies as one of the world’s few supercentenarians – people who have lived beyond the age of 110). She attributed her own longevity to the copious amounts of olive oil she poured on her food. She kept active and cycled into her nineties, but also had her fair share of vices. She drank port, consumed a kilogram of chocolate a week, and smoked, in moderation, until she was 117.

One centenarian who gleefully confounded medical opinion was the American comedian George Burns, who died in 1996, shortly after his 100th birthday. Burns smoked between 10 and 15 of his trademark cigars a day, often accompanied by a martini. He dedicated one of his books to “the widows of my last six doctors”.

Creatures of habit

Christian Mortensen, who died in California in 1998 aged 115, summed up the secrets of his longevity as “friends, a good cigar, drinking lots of good water, no alcohol, staying positive and lots of singing”. A former milkman and factory worker, he had a mainly vegetarian diet and boiled all his water.

The Japanese centenarian Tane Ikai had a diet of stultifying monotony that would have tried the patience of a saint. On a typical day, she ate three meals of rice porridge. But it did the trick. Ikai pegged out in 1995, at the age of 116.

Great-great-grandmother Ada Marley, from Oxfordshire, who turned 100 in January, combines an abstemious lifestyle with an active mind: “I have never smoked or drunk, but I have kept myself busy with things like needlework and embroidery.” She keeps herself mentally alert by doing a crossword or word puzzle every day.

Minnesota railway clerk Walter Breuning, who died in 2011 at the age of 114, practised callisthenics (a type of exercise to increase body strength) daily almost until his death. His diet consisted of a large breakfast followed by smaller meals later in the day. In old age, he skipped his evening meal altogether and ate fruit instead.

Natural-born survivors

The German film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, notorious for her Nazi propaganda films in the Thirties, was also renowned for her stamina and physical resilience. She survived a helicopter crash at the age of 100, and was still a keen scuba-diver when she died in 2003, at the age of 101.

One of the last survivors of the First World War, Henry Allingham was briefly the oldest man in the world before his death in 2009, at the age of 113. As well as witnessing the horrors of war, he suffered two nervous breakdowns, but he remained upbeat. He jokingly attributed his longevity to “cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women”.

Another man to weather an inauspicious start in life was the songwriter Irving Berlin, whose family fled Russia during the pogroms of the late 19th century. The composer of White Christmas was a workaholic, often making do with very little sleep, and was prone to bouts of depression; but he passed the century mark in 1988, shortly before his death

So can we make any conclusions about living to see 100. Its clearly multifactorial: great genes, a diet high in good oils, a great outlook, positive mental attitude and perhaps also hard work and keeping the brain active. Your thoughts and stories on people you know you have reached this age?

My grandmother lived to 98 and my grandfather 96. My grandmother wasnt a worrier – she thought it a waste of time, she had a very good sense of humour, worked incredibly hard bringing up three children with little money. She was active, drank guinness, ate watercress, cranberry juice and free range eggs. As far as I can remember she only an underactive thyroid. The link to those that live to that great age – well they seem to aspire to a great mental attitude as much as possible, alcohol, and having fun… perhaps I’m in the wrong job! and here’s Des – amazing at 80!

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