The Gatekeepers Program
The Cantaloupe Story

What's Your Secret to Long Life?

Let's have some silly fun with our old age today.

I ran across yet another instance of a centenarian answering that moldy old reporter's question: What's the secret to your longevity?

Over my lifetime, the most frequent response has been that he had smoked two packs of cigarettes and drunk a quart of whisky every day of his life or some equally “yeah, sure” kind of answer.

For a long time I've suspected these folks just make up the most outlandish stuff they can think of that might shock the young whippersnapper who has the temerity to ask such a dumb question. That may be what happened with this latest guy.

Ben Burlingham, having been born in London in 1909, was celebrating his 104th birthday on Monday with family and cake:

”...the former bus driver," writes reporter Anthony Carroll, "...says his secret [to long life] is eating raw onions and also having a glass of sherry before bed.”

Either item, raw onions or sherry, are not individually interesting but together they are original and side-by-side it's kinda funny although I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Burlingham wasn't pulling the reporter's leg.

That's probably the direction I'd go – maybe talking about all the weed I smoked along with eating a quart of Haagen Dazs a day.

But that's only an exaggeration of my reality – or what I wish could be my reality if I weren't being so health-conscious in recent years. Given the world they live in today, it's hard to come up with anything that would actually shock young people.

Can you do better? Just for fun, pretend that today is your 100th birthday and the cub reporter at your local rag has stopped by for some advice on how to live as long as you have. What would you say?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: What is Retirement to Me?


How about: Ignore everyone else's advice and do what you want to do. And eat chocolate.

Regular major surgeries. LOL

Then again, I like MerCyn's comment about chocolate. There's also Nutella too.

4 pacemakers!

The same breakfast every morning since I was four years old, a thick slice of homemade bread spread thickly with real butter and topped with jam, strawberry or apricot, all washed down with a cup of strong black coffee. All three of my brothers ate the same. We plan to celebrate our birthdays together next month. Henry will be 102, Jake 100 and Roscoe 99. I am the oldest at 103.
LOL That should get their attention Like you, Ronni, this is partly wishful thinking. And oh, I have never had a brother

ah well i might as well tell the truth of what i believe...i have been working out daily since age 41 and have sex at least every other day!

Ha! You guys are terrific at this. Keep it up.

I've been collecting cats since I was a child. Keeping so many litter boxes clean, over decades, has really boosted my immune system! In addition, I can't imagine anyone else taking care of the 15 cats I have now, so I just have to keep on living and putting cat food int he bank account!

Running ten miles a day - in my bare feet.

Have Mom's genes...Her Birthday #103 coming up 12/31/13. My plan is to out live her if even by only 5 minutes! My 82 was 8/31/13...

This is TRUTH!

Genetics, my family is full of asthmatic, arthritic, women who lived nearly a century, except for my mom who smoked herself out early. They were all very fond of their friends, men, read a lot, and danced. My great aunt who lived to 101, married 7 times (101). Variety must be the spice of life.

Don't know why I put 101 in twice except that I'm trying to move this weekend.


The old jokevas I remember it:

A young repofrter is assigned to do a "man in the street" interview about living a long life.

He spots a very decrepit man sitting on a park bench, and asks, "Sir, to what do you attribute your long life?"

The man ansswers, "Every day I drink a quart of whiskey, smoke three packs of cigarettes,have kinky sex, and get about three hours of sleep."

The reporter is stunned.

That's amazing, siur! How old are you, exactly?"

The man smiles.


Love that last one! A friend of mine says her Italian grandfather lived to 95 on cigarettes, Chianti, salami and being a mean son of a bitch.

45 years ago, I read an article in the newspaper by a reporter who asked a 100-year old Russian woman to what she attributed her long life. Her answer? "To the fact that my husband died when I was 55." Not exactly what the reporter expected, I'm sure! (I think Russian men are, or used to be, rather hard to live with.)

My grandfather lived to 86 and died in 1960. He had his first of 4 major heart attacks at 40. Mom always said he lived so long because he didn't trust her to raise me alone. Mom had to outdo him and lived to 87 although she smoked heavily for 75 years. Now it is my turn and I plan to make in to 88!

I am 69, and while that's not long to some people, it's long to me. I have outlived my father by 17 years, my mother by 20 years, and my maternal grandfather by 30 years. Each of us had, or has, a congenital, life-shortening condition. I am here because of medical progress, and I'm grateful.

I think one life extender is avoiding stress. Do something about things over which you have control and do not stress over those things over which you have no control. My mother always said she was not going to waste energy worrying about something she could not change.

My compliments to Genie and her brothers; obviously they have broken the code to old age!

I'm not that old yet - only 73 - and I'd say that a pleasant outlook on life is one of the keys. I avoid negativity like the plague (especially politics). Look for the silver lining....and you may find yourself living a long time.

My grannie's secret to a long life was to roll naked in the dew-laden grass under a full moon.

"I'm just not into dying. Maybe next year."

I like the 15 cats plan myself.


He's so old, he walked past a cemetery, two guys chased him with shovels.

"You're 85? What's your secret?"

"I juggle cats blindfolded."

Secret of my old age? I don't know. Just a minute and I'll ask my father.

My secret to "old age" (73) is that my heart hasn't stopped beating yet.

I like the idea of rolling naked in the dew or when its cold on a rug in front of the fire - indulging in plenty of sex or wishful thinking!!!!
A sense of humour also helps.

Chocolate! Pounds and pounds. Every day.

I asked my 90 year old this and she said "no secret. I just keep waking up every morning"

Someone said, "Living healthy is the slowest way to die."

"By not wasting my time answering stupid questions." There's too much of value to engage with, making every minute precious.

I don't think I *want* to live to be 100, so I probably will.

I have something much more interesting than myself, at age 67. My 102 y.o. father lives with me. Before you congratulate me for my generosity, I would tell you he is a delight. Not to be confused with always easy, as a fall here, pneumonia there, has created challenges. But to get to the point about his longevity, he has had his "vices" and his considerable virtues. He smoked until he was in his 50s. He still has several glasses of wine a night. He is upbeat and optimistic to a fault, i.e. really? Why are you smiling and laughing while I am telling you your grand daughter lost her job? Sometimes the answer is because he can't hear. But more to the point, the answer is because he has learned to take life with a grain of salt, and I do not mean in a demented way. He's a bit of a Buddha. His is the glass half full. It's not the end of the world. He makes an effort to think that way. Besides that, he eats well. He takes vitamins and subscribes to health newsletters. He exercises as much as he can. He thinks about relaxing his body all the time and he takes the emotional high road. He passes the written drivers test every few years and therefore still drives himself in a limited way to things like Tai Chi class. I notice Tai Chi boosts his cognitive state significantly. He's intellectually curious, and though he has trouble hearing the television, he reads the many publications he subscribes to. Genes? His father died when he was 9 years old. We don't know why. It was a slow decline ending in a hospital with no known diagnosis. His mom died at 87 with cancer. His brother is 91 and going strong. If I were asked to name the most important things leading to his longevity, I would say: a positive attitude, exercise, eating well. And a lot of luck. For myself, I'm banking on his genes, but I know it's much more than that. I wish I could be an optimist as he is. Instead, I subscribe to the truism that optimists live longer and are happier, and pessimists are more often right. That will probably loose me a few years!

Keep. Having. Sex.

My grandmother lived to be 104 and was still telling jokes at age 100. Didn't need a wheel chair until she was 102 and even then she could stand and dress herself and was not trapped in her chair. Her secret? Meaness. Yes, she was mean, always looking out for number one. That does not mean that she didn't help others or do good (she did) but she put herself at the top of the list. She really was a mean and smart woman. She had diabetes, but being active and non-sedentary, she managed it well enough to live to be very old.

By setting annual goals

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