I briefly worked in a retirement community. I met lots of people in their late 80’s and 90’s. There were plenty of traits that separated them from people who might not have lived as long, as well as those who were in great health later in life versus poor health.
Here are 5 traits I noticed in many of these people who had lived a long life, and some of which are backed by science:
1. They were physically active every day. This seemed to be the number one factor separating those with good versus poor health. There were two women in particular in their 90’s that I would see go into the gym each day. They were in great health and had been exercising for their entire lives. As a friend of mine phrased it, “You have to keep the equipment moving.” In general, the people I noticed who were in the best health were regularly active.
2. They were involved in their community. Even though they were retired, those in the best health were still actively involved in their community. Many of them were volunteers, and some of them were even still working. One woman in her 90’s had been a nurse in her younger days and she was teaching as a volunteer at a local school. From this I learned that the importance of having a sense of purpose to overall well-being and longevity.
3. They kept a schedule. Those who seemed the most lively kept a strict schedule for themselves. Even though they were retired, they still set an alarm in the morning and got up to do various activities throughout the day. Some of them kept a similar schedule to the one they had when they were working, before retirement, and some of them were still working in some capacity.
4. They were social. They made and kept up friendships. There were a lot of friendships in the community — two of the women in their 80’s and 90’s were even going on a cruise together. One of them described it as “her last big vacation,” which was a bittersweet way to phrase it. Many of them had family support as well, with relatives who would come visit them or with whom they would stay in regular contact. Or, they were otherwise involved in their community in some sort of social setting.
5. They were interested in what was going on in the world. It seems that if you stay interested with what is going on in the world, whether that is current events, or events in your own community, you feel more compelled to have a reason to live.
Overall, the two key factors of living a long life were the ability to maintain social relations and keeping physically active. What I heard a lot while working there was essentially that as long as you have a reason and purpose to live, life will continue flowing through you.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You.
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