In 1900, man lived about 47 years. In 1990, he averages 75 years.
"There's one big misconception about longevity; that modern medicine has the greatest influence in helping us live longer. That's bunk," said George Pfeiffer, vice president of the Center for Corporate Health. "Lifestyle is the key to longevity." But, he said, most of the money spent on health care goes to treatment rather than prevention of problems.Pfeiffer called this the Age of Technology, the Age of Medicine and the Age of Lifestyle during his keynote address at the Governor's Conference on Aging. The conference, which began Monday, concludes Tuesday at the Salt Lake Hilton.
Talk about life span is misleading, he said, because people think it means when they hit 75 life is ending. In fact, he said, the longer you live the "more potential years of life you have."
A man who lives to 65 can expect 14 more years. A woman can expect an average of 19 years. People forget that averages include people who die very young.
If people worried as much about expanding their lives as they did about extending them, they would live better, Pfeiffer told several hundred senior citizens and professionals. "Successful aging is taking the right attitude and applying that attitude to action."
He encourages older people to rediscover the "power of play" if they have forgotten it.
"We need to look at life as a business. You're responsible for managing eight departments: physical, psychological, knowledge, career, finances, family, social and values and beliefs."
Pfeiffer posed three "critical" questions: Who are you? What is your mission? What do you value?
"A significant projector of longevity is the power of faith and family," he said.
Psychological attributes that affect longevity and lifestyle include coherence, the ability to love oneself, a clear mission, making things happen and auditing strengths and weaknesses, said Pfeiffer.
Determinant physical attributes are regular exercise, weight management, the ability to control stress, proper nutrition, medical self-care skills and adequate health insurance.
A key rule? "Don't make mountains out of molehills."
Pfeiffer encourages senior citizens to be proactive in their medical care. About half of the visits by senior citizens to the doctor are unnecessary, he said.
Cost is a factor here. Most people will live longer than they expect - or plan for - after they retire. And financial realities have to be faced, he said.
George Pfeiffer issues a seven-part challenge to people who care about quality and length of life:
- Sleep 7-8 hours
- Have a good breakfast
- Eat regular meals
- Don't smoke
- Do aerobic exercise
- Take moderate or no alcohol
- Watch your weight
People who follow six of the seven will live about 11 years more than those who do two or three, Pfeiffer said.