If you’re looking to live to 100, you might want to take inspiration from Italian nonagenarians and centenarians.
A recent study of rural Italians aged 90 to 101 years old found people who lived longer shared a number of traits.
The study, published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, found people who lived longer were more likely to be positive and resilient. They worked hard, had a strong bond with family and religion, but also felt a need to be in control.
Researchers spoke to both the elderly, from nine villages in the Cilento region of southern Italy, and their children or other family members - 29 nonagenarians and centenarians and 51 family members aged 51-75 took part in total.
Family members were asked to describe their elderly relatives’ personality traits, and interviews were also conducted with the older individuals about their lives.
The results found that those ages 90 years and over had worse physical health but better mental wellbeing than their younger family members.
The main themes that emerged from the interviews included positivity (resilience and optimism), working hard, bond with family and religion, but also a need for control and love of the land.
Exceptional longevity - for example, living past 100 - was linked to a balance between acceptance of and grit to overcome adversities, along with a positive attitude and close ties to family, religion, and land - which all provided purpose in life.
One respondent, who had recently lost his wife of 70 years, said: “I was close to her during all her illness and I have felt very empty after her loss. But thanks to my sons I am now recovering and feeling much better.
“I have four children, 10 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. I have fought all my life and I am always ready for changes. I think changes bring life and give chances to grow.
“I have had a heart condition for which I have undergone surgery but I am now okay. I have also had two very serious car accidents and I have risked losing my life. But I am still here!”
He continued: “I am always thinking for the best. There is always a solution in life. This is what my father had taught me: to always face difficulties and hope for the best.
“I am always active. I do not know what stress is. Life is what it is and must be faced… always! If I have to say, I feel younger now than when I was young.”