If you are like most people, you guessed that the secret to longevity is genetics. If your parents lived to 95, then chances are you will too. But here’s the truth: genetics is not the only reason for living long. Yes, genes do play a role; albeit not a major one. According to Dr. Nir Barzilai, a geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, centenarians are more than 20 times as likely as the average person to have some relative in their family who lived a long life. But a Swedish study revealed that identical twins separated at birth and raised apart could only attribute 20 to 30 percent of longevity to genetics. It seems from this study and others like it that lifestyle is the more dominant factor in how long someone lives.
Esther Tuttle, Active at 99 Recently, I read an article about Esther Tuttle, a vibrant and active woman who looks and acts 30 years younger than her biological age. Her mind is fresh; she recalls details that most of us cannot remember. She was asked about her family; the interviewer thought that genetics in her family would strongly link her to living this long. But Esther revealed that her parents died at ages 42 and 50. She was orphaned at age 11, along with three siblings, one of whom did live to 96.
Esther’s 3 R’s Esther has a simple formula for living a long, healthy, and productive life. She possesses three critical attributes that might be dubbed “the secret to longevity.” They are: resolution, resourcefulness, and resilience. Esther, like you and me, has not had life easy. There have been obstacles and difficulties in her life. BUT, she has taken those setbacks in stride and converted them into “building blocks.” I like to say when adversity strikes, view it as a challenge; welcome it, and find a solution. Esther also enjoyed (and still does) a careful diet, regular exercise and a very long list of community service. She is an extrovert who has many friends, strong self-esteem and strong ties to her community and family. And she still enjoys the opera and theatre. Her passion for life keeps her optimist, a quality that is important for living longer.