Researchers understand that not everyone can become a "super centenarian," who are those that live past 110. Today, there are 70 of them in the world (65 women and five men). Another 400 say they belong to this category, but lack documents to confirm it. In Brazil, according to government statistics there are almost 24,000 centenarians. Bahia (3,525), São Paulo (3,146) and Minas Gerais (2,597) have the largest concentrations.
In the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), researchers are studying 245 people who are over 80 years old. They are given check-ups and medical treatment, as well as advice on sleep, memory, diet and physical activities.
"Many of our patients are about to become centenarians. We are evaluating how to make their lives free of physical, mental, emotional and social limitations," says Maysa Seabra Cendoroglo, professor of Geriatric and Gerontology at Unifesp, who took part in Brazil's recently concluded Congress of Geriatric and Gerontology, held in Rio.
Is it possible for a centenarian to stay independent up until the end? "There have been many studies on this question. For the answer to be yes, it is necessary to maintain a good diet, constant physical activities and cognitive stimulus", the doctor explains.
Is this possible even without proper genes? "Yes. You may not reach 100, but at least 80. You just have to do your best until the very end."
And in case you were wondering, it is also possible to be happy at 100, even when faced with disease or loss, says German psychologist Dagmara Wosniak, who studied 56 centenarians in Heidelberg. About half of them lived in care facilities, and 82% depended on nurses.
According to Wosniak, at that age, being outgoing, having a healthy social life (family and friends) and mental agility were most conducive to happiness. "Being optimistic increases the will to live longer."
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