How Do We Get Old Enough To Know Better?

How Do We Get Old Enough To Know Better?

One way to live longer and healthier is to let go of stress – to keep moving forward after life’s setbacks. According to gerontologist and commentator Mark Lachs, longevity often has a genetic basis; but it’s also affected by what geriatricians call “adaptive competence” – the ability to recover from biological and psychological stress – medical issues, bereavement, age discrimination, etc. A study about the longevity of people in their 50’s done by a professor of epidemiology and psychology at the Yale School of Public Health found optimists died on average 7.5 years later than pessimists – with their glasses still half full.

Another way to live longer is to shop frequently. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health focused on 1,850 Taiwanese senior citizens. Forty-eight percent shopped less than once a week, 13% shopped weekly, 22% shopped 2-4 times a week and 17% shopped every day. The researchers found that shopping every day was linked to a reduced mortality rate of up to 28% for men and 23% for women. This is attributed to shopping being a marker for a healthier lifestyle – more food available, more walking, more socializing, etc. Nevertheless, it seems we can “buy” time.

Love helps us live longer. According to Dr. Howard Friedman, co-author of The Longevity Project, that’s a myth. However, involvement with other people does promote longevity. Another myth is married people live longer. Married men tend to live longer. Only vigorous exercise leads to longer life – myth. Staying physically active through middle age and beyond is more important. Worriers die younger – myth. Worriers tend to take better care of themselves and also tend to handle life’s challenges better. Early retirement means late death – myth. Productive people live longer than their layabout counterparts. It seems the subject of longevity is prone to “mythstakes”.

Finally, longer life expectancy is one explanation why church attendance is down in the U.S. and other developed countries. According to a study published in the International Journal of Social Economics, because we are living longer, we’re postponing our religiosity. However, a study published in the journal Demography found that people who attend church at least once a week live approximately 7 years longer than non-attendees. This is attributed to churchgoers being less likely to smoke or drink heavily and more likely to have strong emotional and practical support during health challenges. It seems non-churchgoers could live to regret it.


Knight Pierce Hirst has written for television, newspapers and greeting card companies. Presently she writes a 400-word news blog that is published 3 times a week. KNIGHT WATCH is a second look at uniquely interesting news items that requires only seconds to read at