Many of you might be aware of my fascination with SuperAgers or those individuals who live well into their 90s or past 100 years old in pretty good health. The theme of the summer POAMN Network News is “Be strong and have courage, don’t be afraid,” words that are spoken throughout the Bible. My first thought was, that is easier said than done, but then I thought of these SuperAgers and feel that they might have the wisdom to know how to be strong and courageous.
One of the few magazines I still get in the mail is Brain & Life, Neurology for Everyday Living. The December/January 2023 issue contained an article that was an immediate read for me. The article featured people in their nineties sharing tips for longevity and living well. I’d like to share some of their wisdom with you and how I think it connects to our theme.
The first person interviewed was Eunice Black, age 99. Her defining characteristic is rule-breaker. She states, “I think everyone has a lifestyle that suits them, and if you find the lifestyle that suits you, you will be happier than if you try to follow what others try to tell you to do.” Ms. Black’s philosophy of life certainly takes a person who has a confident personality, and is strong and courageous. We all know it is a lot easier to go with the flow and act the way people expect us to act.
Another interviewee is Albert Pollack, age 100. His defining characteristic is determination. He was born in Poland and lost his mother at the age of 19 in the Holocaust. Besides remembering well his single mother’s early lesson—be honest, be nice, and be kind—he internalized another lesson, not to give up. “If I have something on my mind, I do it. I don’t stop until I finish it. You can call it stubbornness, but I call it determination.” He published a book when he was 98 on the Holocaust. His philosophy of life is full of being strong and courageous, and certainly not being afraid!
I challenge each of you to take a few minutes to listen to those individuals around you who have beat the odds and are living near or beyond the century mark. In 2019, a federal report recorded that there were 100,322 people 100 or older in the U.S. Many clinical studies on aging are focusing less on the years lived and more on the number of healthy years lived. The five individuals interviewed for this article each continue to show courage and strength in their long lives and we all can learn a lot from them.