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Centenarians Pass Along Good Genes to Descendants, Study Shows

The study of centenarians and what their health histories can mean to their descendants is a fascinating one. One way to stay young longer is to volunteer. If you’re hoping to hit that 100-year mark, you might also consider a part-time caregiving career.


Q.    My mother lived to be 101 years old and was in great shape until the last two years of her life. Do you think I have a chance to get there as well? I am currently 78 and in very good health. What can I do to extend my life?


A study appearing in an issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society says centenarian offspring retain important cardiovascular advantages from their parents compared to a similarly-aged group.


The findings show that centenarian offspring have a 78 percent lower risk for heart attacks, 83 percent lower likelihood of stroke and an 86 percent lower risk of developing diabetes mellitus. 


Additionally, the study found that centenarian offspring who were followed in the study were 81 percent less likely to die than the reference group of similarly-aged patients during the follow-up period. The survival rate is evidence that longevity runs in families, and the results reinforce the notion that there may be physiological and genetic reasons that longevity runs in families.


The authors claim the study is the first to assess the health of centenarian offspring over time and could be important for future research, as the subjects may be used as a model of healthy aging.


The results also are consistent with previous research, which suggested that the avoidance or delay of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes, runs strongly in the families of centenarians, particularly amongst their children.


Be sure to stay current on all your health screenings and discuss with your doctor ways to continue to keep a healthy mind and body. Have you thought about volunteer work or a part-time job? There’s nothing like helping others to renew the spirit and soul. Check with your local senior center about needs in your community.    


Why not talk with your local Home Instead Senior Care® office? The company hires CAREGiversSM to help seniors with services at home such as companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders and light housekeeping. Many are seniors themselves who can better relate to the interests and needs of older adults. Sharing your life with others could also bring more meaning to your own.


For more about the centenarian study, visit