Heredity, he believes, has little to do with how long we live. Many scientific studies, including those which study longevity records of twins, conclude that inheritance has only 15% to 20% to do with how long you will live.
He also makes it clear that most of what we have learned and heard about aging is wrong. Aging, in my definition, is the effect of an energy flow of matter over time. It is inevitable and nonpreventable. The march of time leads to the gradual accumulation in all our selves of debris, trash, the result of the generation by our metabolism of free radicals. (But) aging proceeds at a more stately pace than has originally been thought.
He also believes that many of our oldest institutions are out of step with our new lifespans. Our educational system, retirement ages, even the basic family organization must be revamped to accommodate the changing lifespan. These institutions were formulated centuries ago when our ancestors died in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Now it is clear that we must (change), if we are to survive with any sense in the system, presuming we have the smarts to do it.
There are now 22 centenarians in America per 100,000 people. A century ago, the chance of a baby living to 100 was 1 in 500 while now it is 1 in 80 and getting better every year. Bortz tells us that if we want to live to be 100, our chances are better in Hawaii, where 2% of the population will reach 100. Minnesota and South Dakota are close behind. On the other hand, he says that if we move to Washington, D.C., or Alaska, our chances of making it to 100 are about half as good.
Bortz gives us 99 steps we can take to reach age 100, with practical advice on eating, sleeping, sex and work. The steps are titled so youll take notice. For instance, Step 2 urges you to Read well to eat well. In other words, read food labels to make sure you arent eating the wrong things. Step 18 reads Use your diet to fight cancer. Several steps are about helping others, which has proven therapeutic value for the helper.
Step 61, Beware of retirement myths, is an intriguing title because it represents so much of the disillusionment felt by many people who have retired. He advises people to keep working as long as they can. For most of us, work is a significant part of what we are all about, and when we withdraw from the workplace, we lose our identity. It is a serious matter that can have disastrous consequences and most of those who do retire are not prepared for the bumps and bruises ahead.
Bortz puts it best when he writes, Continued involvement in active living is the centerpiece of a life fully lived. Continued productivity is a hallmark of successful aging.