Around the world are longevity “hot spots,” called blue zones, in which there is an excess of people living beyond 100 and continuing to live active, productive lives. What is it about these blue zones that favors people living longer and healthier than average? And should Boulder City be considered a blue zone, as despite blowing asbestos dust and desert conditions, many of our seniors are leading active lives well into their 80s and 90s?
John Robbins, inheritor of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream wealth, wrote a book called “Healthy at 100” about diet, lifestyle, health and longevity in which he covers cultures across the globe, and there is a lot we can learn from the blue zones. We cannot all live in isolated, mountainous or coastal areas, free from the stresses of the modern world, but we can strive to take these zones as examples and become productive and healthy members of our communities.
So who are these blue zone citizens of Boulder City? Meet Frank Pomellitto, who has just written his first novel at 84 years of age. And he is now seriously considering a sequel. Come and have lunch at the Senior Center of Boulder City and you will meet many more blue zoners. Sadly some are gone, like Running Deer (Jack Kraus), who took the final journey as he approached his 100th birthday.
The U.S. traditionally has not held a record for longevity in its seniors, but by 2004 Americans were representing almost half of the 30 oldest people in the world and holding the top three positions in the rankings. Hey, we must be doing something right.
I recently came across an interesting publication from the United States Census entitled “An Aging World: 2015” and discovered some interesting statistics. Published in March this year, Chapter 8 gives some eye-opening numbers. Contrary to the speculation that we are killing ourselves with our unhealthy lifestyles and leaving this world early, the statistics show the opposite.
For example, in 2015, the percentage of all Americans 80 years and over totaled 3.8 percent. By 2050 this percentage is expected to more than double to 8.2 percent.
And good news for the men, their stats are even better. Traditionally, men died younger than women, and the percentage of 80-plus men to women hovered around 60 percent up to 2015. By 2030 and on into 2050, this percentage is expected to rise to 68.5 percent (http://bit.ly/1UqN6Jr).
So how can we keep the trend of healthy aging going? Publications and the internet abound in advice for healthy living, but, while it is good to have a sense of physical balance, we also need to have a balance in life. Each day needs to be a blend of physical and mental exercise, emotional input, social engagement and spiritual practice.
A life spent in total spiritual practice is not a physically healthy life. Days spent without socially interacting with others can lead to loneliness and isolation. A physically demanding lifestyle with no relaxation or mental challenge can become mind-numbing and boring. Getting the balance right takes time and effort, with activities shifting from day to day.
As new opportunities present themselves, they can become integrated into the mix. A satisfying life is a full life with a varied menu of activities.
Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at email@example.com.