How to Live to 100: Learn to Bounce Back

Those who adapt to stress live longer, writes geriatrics expert
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2011 11:25 AM CDT
Want to live longer? Try letting go of stress.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Dr. Mark Lachs is an expert on geriatrics, and his oldest patient is 109. Not only is she 109, but she still lives at home—"with all her marbles," he writes—and enjoys chocolate truffles and Budweiser. What's her secret? "Adaptive competence," which Lachs defines as "the ability to bounce back from stress." Not just biological stress but, in his opinion and the opinion of other geriatrics experts, psychological stress as well.

His 109-year-old patient, for example, has had to deal with everything from the loss of loved ones to gender discrimination to medical issues. And after each, she dusts herself off and moves on," he writes on NPR. When she suffered a stroke, she threw herself into rehab and speech therapy. Studies support his theory, with one in particular showing that people who had negative feelings about getting older died an average of 7.5 years earlier than their more positive counterparts. "So," Lachs concludes, "if you're a boomer and you don't think your outlook on aging has any impact on the rest of your life, you might want to brighten your attitude a bit." (Click for another way to live longer.)

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