Super centenarians can teach to live longer - VIDEO PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 29 June 2015 06:00

On our planet, there are a couple of people who have managed to live in three different centuries. What can we learn from their experience? Achieving centenary - a good reason to celebrate, but today so many centenarians, scientists no longer try to follow the life of each of them. The UN estimates that in 2012 the world lived about 316,000 people over 100 years. It is expected that by 2050 this number will grow to an impressive three million.

But there is a limited number of superdolgozhiteley - those who managed to cross the milestone of 110 years. Based in Los Angeles, an international group of gerontological research (SHI) maintains a database of the most senior representatives of humanity. Yet this spring, there were 53. But on April 1, it was announced the death of the oldest of them, Japanese Misao Okawa - she was 117 years old. After she died a few centenarians, and at the time this article was published in the list of GGI was 45. Sami compilation of the list, however, believe that it is far from complete.

Okawa was born in 1898. Who survived only two registered dolgozhitelnitsa born in the XIX century - the American and Italian. They were able to see three different centuries - perhaps they can be called "three-century centenarians" (although experts-philologists can possibly come up with the name and better). Most of these people in the world did not appear until 2100, and, most of all, we quite quickly lose the remaining two - unfortunately superdolgozhitelyam usually not possible for a long time wearing his proud title.

Time inevitably takes the oldest inhabitants of the earth, and experts from various fields of science - biologists, historians, cultural anthropologists - frantically rushing to learn as much as possible from these amazing people while they are still with us. And they can tell not only about the secret of his longevity.

Of course, the most obvious reason to study the most elderly people in the world - is the desire to learn how to maintain the health of old age. According to Stuart Kim, a specialist in developmental biology at Stanford University in the US, superdolgozhiteley "internal clock as if behind at birth." When they were 60, then it seems that they are 40; and when they are 90 - they 70. "When you meet with them in person - says Kim - then you notice that they look and behave as if it is 20 years less than it actually is."

Take, for example, Bessie Brown Cooper, who was born in 1896 in the US state of Tennessee, and died at the age of 116 years and 100 days, taking 10th place in the history of documented life expectancy. "Many of those with whom I speak, terrified cry:" My God! I would not want to live so long! "- Says the grandson of Bessie, Paul Cooper, who heads dedicated to the memory grandmother charity assists superdolgozhitelyam.

But despite the fact that references to the age of Bessie often causes awkward response, Cooper says she never seemed to him old. She had no reason to go to the doctor, gerontologist, she lived at home and worked up to 105 years in the garden, and up to 113 years, a lot of reading. "My grandmother showed me that healthy aging - that's great. There's nothing to be afraid," - says Cooper.

Experts trying to find genetic and external factors that contribute to long years and maintaining health in old age. We already know that a major factor is heredity - a chance to live a long time more than those who have ancestors among centenarians.

"Up to 110-ti can not live without winning the genetic lottery at birth," - says Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois in the United States. But neither he nor his colleagues have not yet managed to identify specific genes responsible for longevity - largely because the study superdolgozhiteley difficult to collect the required number of samples. However, as to the outer reaches of life fit more people, the study will be carried out all the easier.

According to Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University (USA) and director of the program for the study of centenarians in the Boston Medical Center, the research "will help us to achieve not that more people live to a ripe old age, and to help we avoid diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, strokes, heart disease and cancer, or delay their onset. "

In other words, we are unlikely to achieve that most people live to 110 years, but the information gathered in the study of centenarians may contribute to the fact that we have lived a full life up to 85-90 years.

Value superdolgozhiteley centenarians and to society, however, is not confined to this rather selfish desire of mankind to find clues to healthy aging. Each longevity has a lot of unique knowledge, some experts believe their living historical encyclopedia. It is particularly important that their memories include not only what would be considered worthy of recording historian, documentarian and journalist. The unedited stories in the first person, until relatively recently, largely absent from the official historiography says Doug Boyd, director of the Center for Oral History named Louis Nunn at the library University of Kentucky in the United States.

"So we come to a deeper knowledge and understanding," - continues to Boyd. As the decades pass, people separate their memories from the daily hustle and husk lead his thoughts in order, and learn lessons from the experience of life's vicissitudes. They are often very emotionally rich stories than can not boast of retellings of the second and third lips.

"We can impress a historical movie, but not to the same extent as the story of a real person - says Cooper. - The depth of emotion that is transmitted during a private conversation, can not be compared with anything else."

Therefore, Boyd is now busy transfer its entire collection of oral histories - and he has more than 9400 entries - in digital format, to organize them into a free audio and video library searchable. Now instead of 500 people a year use it more than 8,000 visitors per month. These stories, reaching university classrooms, podcasts and social networking, are able to change our traditional perception of history, but at the same time to demonstrate how a wealth of knowledge and experience of older people possess.

"I believe that once the barriers, fences off the collection of oral histories from the general public, will begin to crumble, public awareness will become more informed and dynamic - hopes Boyd. - The recorded voices of people telling their stories and answer questions about life, will have all the more important cultural significance. "

Years of experience sometimes allows the elderly to look at current events from an unexpected quarter. "They have a really interesting point of view," - says Perls, recalling its dialogue with native Walter Breuning of Montana, who lived to be 114 years old.

It was in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis. "He told me:" So you would try on a daily basis throughout the year to eat grass, as it was here in Great Falls during the Great Depression. And then we talked about how bad things are now. "Better not say.

Of course, outside of Western civilization's oldest know the price of wisdom for a long time. In Japan, 43% of the elderly live with their children - this figure has decreased greatly in the last few decades, but are still significantly higher than in Western countries.

Mayumi Hayashi, a researcher at King's College in London, grew up in a home where three generations lived. Her grandparents, with their love of harmony, hierarchy and the emperor, with sharp opinions and rejection of individualism, she opened the window into the past of Japan. Their generation is the last pieces of traditional Japanese society has changed radically after World War II.

"Their culture and their values ​​were very different, and to me they seem very old-fashioned - says Hayashi. - But the fact that my grandparents lived with me when I was growing up, made me more attentive to elderly people and showed how rapidly Japan has adopted the American ideals. "

Or, as Olshansky poses the question: "Do the benefits of staying close to the intelligent, wise, older people? Yes, of course."

One of the misconceptions about aging is that in aging supposedly inevitable deteriorating physical and mental health. Superdolgozhiteli refute this thesis. Olshansky and his colleagues found that the relationship between age and deteriorating health is not confirmed by real statistics.

"Most of the problems that we consider age, in fact, are not associated with age, as such, but with our own influence on the body - smoking, alcoholism, obesity. It also leads to problems, which are then observed in the elderly," - he says Perls. In fact, many people 85 years and older are approximately the same shape as that of those who are 20-30 years younger. A growing number of experts say that chronological age is not a reliable indicator of health status.

"I think most people would prefer to see at the helm of a passenger plane sat a healthy 70-year-old man who has 30 years of experience than the young pilot so early," - says Perls.

But continue to work 70 or 80 years - it's not the same thing as to continue to work in 100. However, there are amazing examples of how people have successfully continued to engage in professional activities, surpassing a century milestone.

103-year-old Ephraim rheumatologist Engelman still sees patients in his office at the University of California in San Francisco, where he also heads the Medical Research Centre Arthritis named Rosalind Russell. He states that to retire is not planning. And he - not the first doctor showing a commitment to his craft. Double-Jay Watson, a doctor from the state of Georgia in August, continued to practice until his death in the year 102, taking as his half-century career of about 15 thoUSAnd births. Lyle Heron Island, which was the only woman in his release medical school in 1928, worked as a doctor up to 103 years, and then another decade lived in retirement until he died at the age of 113 years.

In spite of all the knowledge and experience that I can share the elderly, the theme of old age is often ignored, but some people are afraid of it. Prejudice against the elderly, perhaps, never be completely overcome, but the age at which a discrimination may soon be postponed: it is already possible to hear expressions like "our 70 - 50 as before."

Perls believed that, as more and more people to exchange ninth and tenth decade, will live rich and fulfilling lives, the phrase will be adjusted in accordance with the spirit of the times.

This is already happening in Japan. "90 years of Japanese standards - is not old - says Hayashi. - More than 100 - that's another thing, there is something to celebrate." Perhaps this is the case because in Japan the elderly everywhere quarter of the population over 65 years, and about 55 thoUSAnd have already overcome a century boundary. Besides, this is a very active group of people.

When Hayaysi rises at dawn during his trips to Japan, she notices that the streets are full of older people and couples that came for morning exercise. After walking many Japanese retirees volunteer work closely communicating with the younger generations. Anyway, Japan - the world's only country with an official holiday and a day off in honor of the elderly.

This country can serve as a positive example to other countries, where the population is becoming older, too. Of course, inevitably increase the number of people forced to move to a nursing home, but it certainly will increase the number of active elderly people living in their own homes and are working or engaged in volunteer activities at the age of 80, 90 or even 100 years. This is especially noticeable is that the retirement age will come in numerous post-war generation.

"We, the children of the 1970s who consider themselves rebels. I can assure you that we will leave to protest against age discrimination - said Olshansky. - We will change the situation and take advantage of the fruits of these changes you young."



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