Are you ready to live to 100?





What age do intend or expect to live until? Have you even thought about it? How old do you think is old? A better question might be the one asked by baseball pitching legend Satchel Paige, “How old would YOU be if you didn’t know how old you was?”




When I ask this question to groups of people, many will choose an age, possibly late 80’s or early 90’s as old, a time when people have slowed down, become increasingly disabled, and lose their memory.. When I ask people how old they think they will live until, so many of them say that they really don’t want to live so long. Why? Because, they tell me, they don’t want to be old and feeble, unproductive and totally dependent on others.



English: Eva Zeisel, Hungarian industrial desi...

English: Eva Zeisel, Hungarian industrial designer, potter and centenarians. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My roommate at the recent U. S. Association for Body Psychotherapy conference in San Francisco in October 2010, Dr. Alice Ladas, co-author of the best selling book, The G Spot, is vibrant, healthy and was on her way to a tennis tournament in Texas after spending four days at the conference. She is approaching 90. And there are two super senior tennis players that I know, one, Billie Burr, who I played tennis with in Connecticut many years ago. Her tennis rival for many years, both traveling regularly to play at USTA national tournaments for many years, is Dodo Cheney. Although there are still numerous women entering tournaments in their 80’s and many more in their 60’s and 70’s, what makes these two ladies exceptional is that they are both in their 90’s and going strong.



If you believe you can and if you believe you can’t, either way YOU ARE RIGHT, at least according to noted author, Mark Twain. Those who live well and productively into their 90’s and beyond believe they can! A man named Stuart used to play every Friday night in our round robin mixed doubles in Boca Raton, Florida, with people ranging in age from late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s to 70’s. He was 92 the last time I played with him – and he had just driven, by himself, all the way across the U.S.



On the other hand, last year I met my Spanish Teacher’s mother who had traveled from Santo Domingo to be with her family for Christmas at the ripe old age of 102. She certainly has longevity, but not the joy and joie de vivre that most of us would want if we manage to survive so long. She just sat all night, quietly alone, barely staying awake, and hardly making contact with even her beloved grandchildren. Her body was obviously not comfortable and she was certainly not vibrant.



And then there is “Helen Faith Keane Reichert, born Nov. 11, 1901 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side as the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland, is a certified psychologist, a fashion expert, a former TV presenter and a professor emeritus at New York University. She was married to a cardiologist and has no children. When her husband died 25 years ago at the age of 88, she decided, at age 84, to travel around the world — to Ireland, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, China, Japan and Australia. It was her way of coming to terms with her loss. ‘The only place I didn’t visit was India,’ she says, ‘but I’d like to go there.’”



What’s her secret – diet, exercise, attitude, spirituality, affluent lifestyle? “Helen is 108 years old. She hates salads, vegetables, getting up early and just about everything that has to do with a healthy lifestyle. She loves rare hamburgers, chocolate, cocktails and nightlife in New York: all the exotic restaurants, Broadway shows, movie theaters….In her golden years, Happy, the indestructible woman, has attracted the attention of scientists — together with her brother Irving, 104, and Peter, 100, and her sister Lee, who died in 2005 at the age of 102.”



So once again, I want to ask you: How old would YOU be if you didn’t know how old you was? And how old do YOU want to be when you grow up?


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Dr. Erica



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1 Dr. Adam Sheck { 11.20.10 at 8:00 pm }


Thanks for a great post. I still think that I’ll live forever, but have to acknowledge that “realistically” I’ve got another 40 years or maybe 50 wit improving technology.

The real issue to me, is that somehow society decides what “healthy” aging is and a lot of it is people that look and act younger then their peer group. I’m not sure how psychologically healthy that truly is. I agree with you though, that a healthy attitude is the key, otherwise, why keep on living?

Great topic,
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2 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 11.20.10 at 11:41 pm }

I am spending Thanksgiving with my aunt, about to turn 90, and she is still as vibrant and sharp as ever – and so are her friends who sometimes join us on holidays. There’s nothing wrong with naturally looking and acting younger than your peer group, if your peer group is out of shape and suffering from the side effects of taking too many medications instead of improving their lifestyle. But I am not so sure about subjecting yourself to surgery in an attempt to recapture your youth. There is something to be said for growing old gracefully and enjoying each day of life.