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Posted on December 13, 2023 by William J. Kole in aging, live to 100, super GING, willliam j. kole

Want To Live To 100? Don’t Give Up On Love!


Want to live to 100? Don’t give up on love

BY WILLIAM J. KOLE

Love conquers all…even death — to some extent, anyway.

Researchers say married people tend to live longer than singles — men by 2½ years; women by a little less — and they also stand a better chance of living to 100, even though that can mean outliving the very partner whose security and affection helped get them there.

Tension and conflict in marriage are stand-up comedy staples, but studies have shown that those of us who endure the vicissitudes of life with a partner experience less stress than those who go solo. Couples have greater life expectancy free of disability and other health challenges than singles. And they tend to have more financial security, despite what my bemused father told me on the eve of my wedding: “Remember, Bill, two can live as cheaply as one — for half as long.”

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There’s also the obvious social benefit of marriage as an antidote to loneliness, at least in happy unions. (It’s not an exact science: Researchers investigating the role of marriage in longevity acknowledge some built-in selection bias since physically and mentally healthy people are more likely to marry in the first place.)

A wild card in all this is the stubbornly high divorce rate among baby boomers, who are driving the coming wave of centenarians. Despite a decline since 1980 in the overall U.S. divorce rate, it’s up among those over 50, and over the past half-century, it has tripled among Americans aged 65 and older.

Sociologists and gerontologists call this phenomenon “gray divorce,” and it’s unclear what effect, if any, it will have as those who’ve consciously uncoupled approach old age alone. No two divorces are alike. Some enjoying newfound freedom from the toxic stress of a combative marriage may add to their life spans; others suddenly thrust into the strain of solitude may die before their time.

It’s not the sex, the tax deductions, or even the cohabitation that make marriage so beneficial. Deep platonic friendships can have the same effect.

At an assisted living facility in Montana, two centenarians have found beauty and meaning in a relationship that’s blossomed around their shared love of poetry. Bob Yaw is 101; Gloria Hansard is 100. They live down the hall from each other but gather each evening in her apartment to recite verses. “We didn’t meet long ago,” Hansard tells the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “Just poems are all we know of each other.”

Their friendship is life-giving and beautiful, with a soundtrack straight out of Frank Sinatra’s

“Young at Heart”:

And if you should survive to 105

            Look at all you’ll derive

Out of being alive

(This article was excerpted from THE BIG 100: The New World of Super-Aging)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William J. Kole

About the author

William J. Kole, recently retired as New England editor for The Associated Press, is an award-winning former foreign correspondent who’s reported from North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. A 2022 fellow in aging journalism at Columbia University and the National Press Foundation, Kole has been writing about extreme aging since the 1990s, when he was based in Paris, and told the world the extraordinary story of Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122.

Kole and his wife, children’s book illustrator Terry DeYonker Kole, live in Rhode Island. They have two children and two grandsons.

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