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Family, friends make a long life worth living
Senior moments
Rich DeLong is the executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care. - photo by File photo

A very nice lady said to me the other day, "Don’t get old." Translation: It’s no picnic when I hurt much of the time, and I miss my family and my loved ones and that makes me sad and lonely, or I hate the fact that I can’t do certain things for myself anymore.

Bette Davis said, "Old age ain’t no place for sissies." Boy was she right!

I look around at the wonderful people I work for and serve daily, and I admire everything about them. How they persevere in spite of everything they are feeling and the trials and tribulations they have encountered over the course their lives. It is inspiring, to say the least.

I wonder at times what I will be like when I am 80 or 90. Heck, I guess I have to make it there first, which is an accomplishment in itself. I know a lady who is turning 100 next week. So far in my life, I have personally met four people who have lived a century or longer. All I can say is wow.

In a world where we seem to be struggling just to make it through another day, these people have struggled to make it through 100 years. Unfortunately, the reality of joining the centenarian club may not be as cheerful as you think.

Only 0.02 percent of the American population makes it into the club, and of that number, 4 out 5 are women. Obviously, women know something we men don’t. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that overall, I think women are tougher than men, which is why they have near exclusivity in the club. Men just don’t have the right stuff to join.

Also, nearly 17 percent of centenarians live in poverty; that is double the number of people age 65. Many have outlived their children, and a third of them live alone. Although the odds are not in my favor, I’m pretty sure if I live to be 100, I will want to live with someone, anyone! I can barely take care of myself now.

California has the highest number of people older than 100. New York is second. I’ve always wanted to visit California to see the giant redwood trees and experience a train ride along the coast. Now I have another reason to head west. I’m definitely not heading north.

Would you like to live to be 100? Alexander Heyne’s article, "5 secrets to live over 100 years old," indicates that the No. 1 factor in living to be 100 is family. It’s important to see them, visit and interact with members often. Of all the cultures researched regarding longevity, social interaction is the main common denominator.

The second secret is not to smoke. OK, no surprise there.

The third secret is to have a diet that is high in plant-based foods. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat meat, just eat more stuff that grows out of the ground. Good advice.

The fourth secret shocked the heck out of me. A constant low level of exercise was a common thread among people who lived to be 100. Translation: Stop killing yourself with extreme workouts. Consistent moderation in activity is the best.

Now I know why my body aches all the time. I’m doing too much. Activities like hiking, gardening and farming all prove to be excellent ways to keep healthy.

The last secret is no secret at all. Socialization is the key to living longer. We are born needing love and affection, and we need heavy doses of family and social contact to make it in this world today. Even if we don’t live to be 100.

Family forever, my friends.

Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at

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