The oldest old stay healthy until almost the end then drop dead.
In a pair of studies involving nearly 280,000 people, William Chopik found that friendships become increasingly important to one’s happiness and health across the lifespan. Not only that, but in older adults, friendships are actually a stronger predictor of health and happiness than relationships with family members.
“Aging is very strange. It’s as if one has had so many different lives already. I think I need a little bit more time to understand, to feel what I really want to do. Over the time that’s left.”
Of retiring employees, 12 percent increased their risky drinking at the time of retirement. However, for most people, there was no change in risky level alcohol consumption around the time of retirement: 81 percent sustained healthy drinking during the follow-up, and in 7 percent of the participants risky drinking was constant, although they experienced a slow decline in risky level alcohol consumption after retirement. In the study, the levels for risky drinking were 24 units per week for men and 16 units for women, or passing out due to extreme alcohol consumption.
I cannot recall passing out from alcohol so I guess I’m OK.
Staying engaged in life
All of this squares with the experience of Claudia Landau, M.D., Ph.D., chief of geriatrics and palliative care at Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif, and an associate clinical professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.
Early in her career she remembers working with a group of World War I veterans, all over the age of 90. Asked to account for their longevity and relatively good health, they cited a common reason: a desire to learn and stay engaged with life. One of them had just started to study Japanese.
“When people feel more engaged and involved, they have more motivation to do other things that will keep them well,” Landau says. Those can include physical exercise, paying attention to their diet, and simply getting out of the house more.
You may already have a sense of purpose in life, but if not, retirement, and the flexibility it provides, offers a wealth of possibilities. And it might pay to pick several of them. In Landau’s experience, “people who develop multiple ways of engaging with the world do the best,” she says.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that left ventricular longitudinal relaxation velocity declines as a part of healthy aging and is largely prognostically benign. The use of age-based normative values when considering an elderly population improves the risk discrimination of diastolic measures for incident HF or death.