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Can you imagine yourself as a centenarian?

By Nina Steele 

Senior womanReading the story of Julia Flores Colque, who currently holds the title of the world’s oldest living person, made me think of what I would do if I too were to live past 100. Flores Colque, who also happens to be childless and has never married, is Bolivian. Understandably, her status has brought her international fame.

What makes her story stand out, is the fact that Bolivia does not fare very well when it comes to life expectancy. As it currently stands, the country’s world ranking is 108. In comparison, the previous holder of the same title, a woman by the name of Nabi Tajima, was from Japan, the country ranked number one in the world for life expectancy.

The number of centenarians is said to be on the increase worldwide. Estimates put the total number at around 450,000, with the US currently having the highest number, at 72,000. Experts put this trend down to “advances in medical technology and an increase in health awareness”, with the latter having the biggest impact. Put simply, you are likely to live to a very old age, if you adopt a healthy lifestyle throughout your life. Of course, genes and luck also play a part, but unlike these two factors, at least we have control over what we eat, the amount of exercise we take and everything else in terms of our lifestyle choices.

As longevity is partly determined by how we live our lives, I truly stand a chance of living to a very old age and, who knows, I might even live past 100. The same applies to my husband whom I often tease about this very issue. He ticks all the boxes in terms of living well. He is the one who got me into eating fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, and regular exercise is a passion we both share.

In a way, working with the elderly has prepared me for old age. I came into contact with all types of people, and one of the things I took away is how much the choices we make in our younger years, impact on our later years. There were people in their early 70s who needed a wheelchair to move around, while others in their 90s walked freely, unaided. I still remember the centenarian who was fit till the end.

Yes I can definitely imagine myself as a centenarian. I am just hoping that, by then, all the hard choices I have had to make in terms of lifestyle choices, prove to have been worth it.

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