Betty White died shortly before her 100th birthday. Queen Elizabeth the second made it to 96 before their recent deaths. But was there a common factor that helped them live a century? There are a number of things we can do to stay healthy and live longer, more fulfilling lives, but new research suggests one in particular may be the key to longevity. A new study has found a link between people having a certain thing and longer lifespans. Read on to find out what could help you live past 90.
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Life expectancy in the US is falling.
Despite new advances in medicine, American life expectancy is falling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report Aug. 31 stating that the rate has fallen for the second year in a row. From 2019 to 2020 life expectancy at birth fell from 78.8 years to 77.0 years. And in 2021 the rate fell again to 76.1 years.
“This decline — from 77.0 to 76.1 years — has brought life expectancy at birth in the United States to its lowest level since 1996,” the CDC said. “The 0.9-year drop in life expectancy in 2021, combined with a 1.8-year drop in 2020, was the largest two-year drop in life expectancy since 1921 [to] 1923.”
Experts speak of a worrying trend.
The deadly COVID pandemic has clearly played a role in Americans’ declining life expectancy. But although this is the driving force, The New York Times said that in addition to deaths from heart disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, increases in accidental deaths and drug overdoses have also contributed to the worrying trend.
“Even small drops in life expectancy of a tenth or two-tenths of a year mean that at the population level, many more people are dying prematurely than they should be.” Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), told the newspaper. “This signals a huge impact on the population in terms of increased mortality.”
Experts are also concerned because while other high-income countries’ life expectancies were also badly hit in 2020, many of them began to recover the bank over the past year. This country has not experienced this rise.
Steven WoolfPhD, the director emeritus of the Center for Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, said The New York Times that the continued decline in life expectancy in the US is “historic” and a departure from other countries. “None of them experienced a sustained decline in life expectancy like in the US, and a good number of them saw life expectancy gradually returning to normal,” he said. “The US is clearly an outlier.”
But a new study has found there’s one thing that could help you live past 90 — even if overall life expectancy is falling.
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Having one thing could help you live longer.
Maybe you don’t want to worry too much about the development of life expectancy. As it turns out, new research has found that having an overall more positive attitude might actually help you live past your 90s. This conclusion was reported in a American Geriatric Society Study published June 8 and led by researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
The researchers found that “higher optimism was associated with longer lifespans and a greater likelihood of achieving exceptional longevity overall and across racial and ethnic groups,” according to the study. This particular research built on an earlier study by the same researchers, who studied primarily white populations, to find that optimism was associated with longer lifespans. For the more recent study, they analyzed an expanded participant pool of over 150,000 women from different races and ethnic groups.
Of those participants, the researchers found that the 25 percent who were most optimistic were likely to have a 5.4 percent longer lifespan and a 10 percent greater chance of living past age 90, compared to the 25 percent who were rated as the least optimistic.
“Although optimism itself can be influenced by socio-structural factors such as race and ethnicity, our research suggests that the benefits of optimism may apply to different groups,” the lead author states Hayami Kogaa graduate student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School said in a statement.
You can work on becoming a more positive person.
The significant impact of optimism on aging is no secret. A positive attitude has been linked to many health benefits that could contribute to longer lifespans. Ryan Bollinga behavior analyst and psychotherapist best life.
“Optimism has been found to boost the immune system, reduce stress, and protect against heart disease,” he notes. “A positive attitude towards life can also lead to a healthy lifestyle, such as eating. Eg a nutritious diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep. All of these factors can contribute to a longer and healthier life.”
Unfortunately, some of us are not naturally optimistic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work on becoming a more positive person. Lori FeldmanLICSW, a Licensed Clinical Support Associate and Resident Support Advisor for Hebrew SeniorLife, recommends some tips to increase your positivity: connecting with at least one other person each day, practicing gratitude, moving, and engaging in relaxation exercises .
“Focus on what you can control,” Feldman advises. “Realizing that you can’t control COVID-19 or the future, but you can control what you do, like how many messages you see or when you go to bed, can help you feel less anxious or to feel negative.” And that mindset shift can pay off in the long run—a very long run, if you’re lucky.
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