Throughout history, elderly people were seen as respected leaders, pillars of wisdom for the community. And yet today, seniors are largely relegated to the corners of our society, marginalized and disrespected.
This is partly due to the fact that in our modern world, growing old is equated with becoming sick, decrepit, and senile. It's true that the rate of diseases like Alzheimer's is growing rapidly, with 1 in 3 seniors now dying with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.
But does growing old have to be this way? According to research, not necessarily. Research such as the Okinawa study suggests that there's no reason why the majority of us can't live at least 100 disease-free, healthy years. And there's currently a lot of exciting research centered around telomere length in relation to our longevity. Basically, the longer your telomeres (the end caps to your chromosomes), the longer you might live.
But it's not just about how many years you live. It's about quantity and quality of life.
And research suggests that our mental and emotional health might also play a role in our ability to live long, happy lives. In fact, one fascinating study, published by the American Psychological Association, found that certain personality traits were found in people who lived longest. This 75-year study consisted of 300 couples who enrolled in the study in their 20s. The participants picked a handful of friends to rate their personalities using a 36-question scale. (Apparently we are not particularly good at identifying traits in ourselves, but our close friends are usually spot-on!) Then, the researchers evaluated the data to see which personalities were most common in those who ended up living longest.
Here are the five key traits that were associated with longevity: