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Race To 100 (Longevity)

As I explore deeper into self-improvement, I came across a lot of literature written on longevity. I got so fascinated by the idea of people not just reaching  their full potential as persons but living as long as they could. 

Creating a paradigm to capture the relationship between the constructs  “reaching one’s full potential” and “longevity” is a little bit tricky. Will the conceptual  model  show that the latter is an integral part (or the result)  of the former?  Which of the following questions should be answered –  “Is living as long as a person could a part of reaching the maximum physical capability of their  body?” or “Is longevity the result of being able to develop fully as a person?” 

I think longevity should be viewed as a product of the efforts of people to reach their full potential. To say that living as long as people could is the result of them giving their physical bodies the maximum care only is tantamount to considering a person as a mere physical specimen. A person has, not just a body, but a mind and a spirit. In psychology, an individual  is looked at as  a physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual being. I believe that only when people are able to strike a perfect harmony among these different aspects of being that they could hope to have a shot at longevity.

The interest that longevity has been drawing from both the scientific community and the general public has seemingly created a new sport which I call “race to 100.” I signed up  for the race. I want to celebrate my 100th birthday. It is my desire to  be on my feet dancing and probably carrying one of my great-grandchildren (or would it be great great-grandchildren) when that happens.  I don’t like to be in a wheelchair struggling to blow out those 100 candles. 

Celebrating the 100th birthday is a milestone only a few were able to reach. Those who are lucky to live that long are called centenarians. The United Nation estimated that worldwide there are only  more or less 600,000 centenarians. That’s less than 1% of the world’s total population of 8 billion people.  Studies have shown that they live in certain locations in some countries which were designated as “blue zones.” Japan has the highest number of centenarians  with more than 90,000. 

When I told some of my friends about me wanting to be at least 100 years old, they said I am crazy to want to live that long. For them, they would be happy to live a few more years after their retirement. One of the reasons they would not want to go 80 and beyond is the possibility of them becoming weak and sickly and unable to fend for themselves. They are worried that their loved ones might just send them to nursing homes. One of them who happened to have visited an institution for elderly people lately told me that the pitiful physical, mental, and emotional condition of the old people she mingled with seemingly made her dread reaching advanced age.

That’s the most challenging part of the “race to 100” – getting there on your two feet and not aided by a wheelchair. Thus, it should be treated as a serious goal entailing careful planning and execution. It is definitely not a walk in the park. For those intending to join the race, it will help to know the life expectancy in the country where you live. In the whole world, it is currently pegged at 72.98 years. That’s the number of years an earthling can expect to live. Adding 20 or so more years is a tall order.

Genetics and environment play an important role in healthy aging and longevity. Thus, people aspiring to live way beyond their retirement age need to be aware of their family’s health histories for them to know if they have any genetic predisposition that should be addressed as early as possible. They need to ensure as well that they live in a conducive environment that would help them live healthier and longer.

The to-do list for people wanting to live as long as they could is as formidable as it could be. The list includes among other things slowing down aging, avoiding and curing diseases, staying healthy, striking a work-life balance, and keeping a robust wellbeing. All of the said undertakings are not easy to do.

There are procedures and treatments available to slow down aging. Most of them are skin-related. But it’s not only the skin cells that age. The tissues in our muscles, brain, heart, and other bodily organs succumb to the unforgiving hands of time as well. And available are natural and practical ways to  slow down (if not reverse) it. What’s on top of the list is not surprising – proper nutrition and regular exercise.  Eating the right kinds of foods and staying physically active help us stay healthy. Health experts claim that they contribute also to making us feel and look younger. Activities like getting enough sleep, meditation, and fasting intermittently or fully have been proven to contribute to longevity.

Additionally, it is also important to take a look at one’s lifestyle. Aside from genetics and the environment, how long people live is influenced also by their manner of living. Destructive habits like smoking should be avoided. How many times we have been told that smoking is known to cause illnesses that include heart disease and lung disorders. Scientists also found out that alcohol doesn’t only inflame the liver, it also infuses every cell causing damage to the genes. So, if drinking could not be completely avoided, at least it should be done moderately.

That’s how difficult the  race to 100 is. As if those undertakings listed on the to-do list of people wanting to celebrate their 100th birthday are not already difficult, they must also observe self-discipline and sacrifice self-gratifying activities (of course only those that are classified as destructive). What makes joining this race a bit more challenging is the fact that it’s not just a matter of making sure  that the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of your being are in tip-top shape as you march toward the century mark. It also entails financial stability to ensure that at least your basic needs – food, shelter, clothes, medicine, and what-have-you – are met. Part of the planning in racing to 100 is calculating how much money you’ll need.

If you save more than enough to secure all that you need as you run the race to 100 and you have plenty to spare, consider traveling to places you have never been and enjoy life. Enjoy aging, don’t gripe about it. Age gracefully and gratefully. A study concluded that “those who view growing older positively lived seven years longer than those who griped about it.” So, instead of griping and worrying, just prepare for its coming.

Wellbeing of Filipinos in South Korea: A Needs Analysis

The coronavirus pandemic is an unfolding crisis whose extent of damage could be measured only when it finally ends. Suffice it to say that its economic ramifications are devastating. The global economy shrunk. More and more people are unemployed, hungry, and homeless.

But on top of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, its socio-psychological implications should not be taken for granted. Remember that human beings have needs beyond foods, clothes, and shelter. These are only what Maslow classified as basic in the hierarchy of needs. People have higher needs – psychological and self-fulfillment needs – that must be satisfied.

The inevitable changes that took place because of the spread of this coronavirus have created different kinds of challenges and difficulties that left people with no choice but to contend with. They were confronted by circumstances different from what they were accustomed to.

The ongoing health crisis is testing how much a person could endure… how resilient are they. The current reality forged by the deadly pathogen has created different kinds of problems  that may lead to uncertainties, grief, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. It would require resilience to overcome these negative emotions.

Resilience as defined by Luthar (2006), is “positive adaptation despite adversity.” It refers to the person’s ability to adjust to change and/or the capacity to recover from unfortunate events or misfortune. It is the capability to tolerate (and effectively cope with) experiences of change and adversity.  

How resilient a person is depends on their level of wellbeing. In any study featuring these two constructs, a hypothesis of a direct positive correlation existing between them is very likely to be accepted.  It means that the higher the level of  a persons’ wellbeing the more resilient they are.

The Oxford dictionary defines wellbeing as the “state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy (Oxford, n.d.). This concept, as Purcell (2018) explained, embraces more than just physical health. It takes into account the entire person, both body and mind. It indicates not just the  absence of illness but also the presence of positive mental states, emotions, and moods.”

“Species with useful adaptations to the environment are more likely to survive.” This is what Charles Darwin famously said. Given the current situation, to adapt is the only option people have. And the ability of a person  to adapt to the kind of environment the ongoing pandemic created  hinges on the level of their wellbeing.

Surviving  the pandemic is the goal of adaptation. It is a personal responsibility. It’s not just  a matter of steering away from the deadly path of the infectious disease but also coping with the situation that emerged from its trail of destruction and maintaining a strong resolve not to succumb to the challenges and difficulties that come along.

Overcoming the challenges and difficulties the deadly virus spawned  requires all forms of toughness – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It demands a body and mind in tip-top shape, a holistic wellbeing.

The fear of possibly getting infected by the virus and  losing job or working fewer  hours (which means lesser pay too) are causing fear and uncertainty among many people. Losing loved ones to the deadly pathogen has left a lot of people grieving too. Coping to changes in lifestyle has caused so much stress as well. All these and other problems would really require toughness to overcome. And if a person is non-resilient, their inability to adapt or recover might lead to some other and worse problems.

Take into consideration also the directives to stay at home and strictly observe social distancing. Such orders from the authorities may seem inconsequential, but they are not. They do have debilitating effects.  While social isolation may have saved a lot of people from getting infected by the virus,  it exposed them to another kind of malady – loneliness.

Loneliness is a psychological condition that should not be taken for granted. Wilson et al. (2007) stated  that “loneliness is often described as the state of being without any company or in isolation from the community or society. It is considered to be a dark and miserable feeling, a risk factor for many mental disorders like depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder, chronic stress, insomnia or even late-life dementia.”

“Prolonged isolation,” as Cacioppo and Hawkley (2003) argued, “can adversely affect physical and emotional health, altering sleep and nutritional rhythms, as well as reducing  opportunities for movement.” Nardone & Speciani (2015) added that “isolation causes the natural channels of human expression and pleasure to become depressed negatively impacting  mood and subjective well-being.”   

 So, social isolation, if not properly handled, may cause both physical and emotional problems. However, it is necessary. Most people would probably choose to bear the problems resulting from social isolation than the one caused by the deadly virus.

Staying at home and socially distancing may not be much of a problem, or not a problem at all, for those who are living with their families. But for people living alone, either by choice or circumstances, it could be. These people are the ones most vulnerable to problems that social isolation brings about.

One particular group that belongs to the category aforementioned  expats or people living in foreign countries, mostly as workers or students.

Foreigners in a particular country, just like the citizens of that country, are caught in the same web of problems created by the coronavirus pandemic. They feel or face the same uncertainties, grief, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. But it’s very likely, that the foreigners, being away from their families, are more prone to the dangers of social isolation and other kinds of problems emanating from the ongoing health crisis. Thus, they need all kinds of assistance   they could get from whatever support groups their own governments or from private organizations or individuals who are willing to  help them.

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