Welcome Bloggers to Live to 100 and Beyond

We invite you to celebrate your favorite centenarian by submitting photos and short stories or bios. Please email to adler@ncap100s.org.

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"People have been fascinated by longevity ever since learning of Ponce de Leon’s search in Florida, five centuries ago, for the fountain of youth. In the twentieth century, the search for longevity, and the good health that makes it possible, had been enhanced by discoveries such as antibiotics and other lifesaving drugs, heroic medical interven­tions, which included organ transplants, heart pacemakers and other life-prolonging devices, the emergence of preventive medicine, and a new focus on wellness. On an individual level, people were realizing that, to an ever-increasing extent, they were able to influence life-style factors that could lead to a healthier and longer life—perhaps even a life of 100 years or more." (Opening paragraph from "Centenarians, The Bonus Years," by Lynn Peters Adler, Health Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1995)

Longevity itself is one of the greatest advances of the 20th century, adding approximately 30 years to the average life span. Now, in the 21st century, with the advent of even greater medical advances and the promise shown by stem cell and genetic breakthroughs, the chances for an even greater increase in longevity seems possible.

Active centenarians are our role models. They are helping to redefine aging in new and inspirational ways.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

ABC Barbara Walters Special & Ageism

I recently received a comment on the upcoming ABC Barbara Walters Special. She asked: “I’ve been wondering if the show is highlighting not only the fact that these wonderful people have reached the age of 100 or more, but that people like those in the program need to be revered for the wisdom they have attained through the years and that they have so much to offer us all.

"Our country needs to put our seniors on a pedestal and cherish them rather than putting them in a nursing home and forget them because we think they have nothing more to offer. We are so wrong and will miss a great blessing by not holding them dear to our hearts. I have been so blessed to have a centenarian in my family and so many more in my family that lived long lives and it made me a richer person because of it.”

This speaks directly to the foundation of my work: Advocacy for all elders, and making a contribution to the cause of eradicating ageism in America – during our lifetimes!

I have spoken about this for many years and included this important topic in my book, “Centenarians: The Bonus Years,” (1995, Health Press, Santa Fe, NM). Interestingly, everything I discuss in my book is as relevant today as it was then. I’ll quote just a couple of paragraphs from the Preface of my book:

I came to write this book because of my long-standing interest in and love for people who are very old. I would like others to recognize the importance of our elders’ role in our collective and personal histories and to appreciate them a individuals. Further, I wish to call attention to the needs of people of advanced age with the hope that they will receive a higher priority in society.

It has long distressed me to observe that the older a person becomes the more it seems he or she is shunned by society, particularly in America, where youth is revered. There is a positive side to aging, and there are many people of very advanced age who are interested in remaining a part of the world around them and who want to remain active and engaged in life to the greatest extent possible. Centenarians help dispel the sterotype of advanced age as merely a time of physical decrepitude and emotional deterioration, and a general disinterest in life. By honoring and highlighting centenarians—who are at the pinnacle of old age—I hope to persuade others to think about the very eldest members of society (those eighty-five and over) in a more kindly light and recognize their rightful place in society.

Soon, I will tell the story of how I first got started upon this course … But for now, I’ll close with an analogy to why combating ageism is important to all of us. It serves as a lead in to Chapter 9, “The Challenge of Surviving in Today’s Complex Society.” I call it “The Wooden Bowl,” although I don’t think it has an actual title; it’s an American folktale:

An old and frail grandmother, whose trembling hands would
Sometimes drop and break a china plate, was given a wooden
Bowl to eat from instead by her exasperated daughter. Seeing
This change, the old woman’s granddaughter asked her mother,
“Why must Grannie eat from a wooden bowl when we all eat
From china plates?” “Because she is old,” the mother answered
Sharply. The young girl thought for a moment and said, “Then we
Must save the wooden bowl when Grannie dies.” “Whatever for?”
The mother asked. The child replied, “For you, when you are old.”

To post a comment, click on the "comments" link which follows.

1 comment:

  1. Lynn, I'm delighted to read about the Barbara Walters special and your involvement in it. I look forward to seeing the program. I would like to see Americans go beyond just treating centenarians with more respect, I think we should see them as role models and heroes. When we were kids we had sports heroes, astronauts, and others to model the values and lifestyle that would help us be successful like them. As adults we need role models too and centenarians are our role models to show us how to achieve thier success. --Dr. Michael Brickey, anti-aging psychologist


ABC Barbara Walters Special - Aging & Longevity

The ABC Barbara Walters Special on longevity aired in April of 2008. I was asked two years ago to participate in this project and it was a wonderful, exhilarating experience. It was both an honor and a privilege to work with Ms. Walters and the talented and caring team of professionals on her staff. I invite you to read the "Behind the Scene" story on our website. Here's the link: http://www.adlercentenarians.org/ABCWalters_special.htm
Posts & comments about the special and the participating centenarians follow. Please scroll down.