Surviving, and enjoying, a second sixty five involves an intention to do so.

George, at 89 was vigorous and well. Our local day-care centre started a project that invited the elderly clients to write memoirs of significant events  or facets of their lives, and George engaged enthusiastically with the project. He said he had long had an ambition to live to the old age of ninety. He died on his ninetieth birthday!

Mary was an inmate of a nursing home run by nuns. She was 99 years old, and in poor health and suffering. The only thing that was keeping her alive was her desire to live to be a hundred. One day the nuns brought her in a birthday cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to her, letting her believe she had acieved 100. She died peacefully the next day.

My mother always said she would hate to live to be unable to look after herself and be a burden on others. She died suddenly at 74.

The first step towards living to a great age is having the intention to do so.

Being a burden on others is not a function of age, but of health. John, at 101, lives alone in sheltered accommodation. He does not need or use home care, and, at weekends, when the day-care centre is closed, he cooks for himself. He likes a stew: "I toss a bit of meat and some vegetables into a pot, with some salt and pepper and a sprig of thyme, and let it all simmer for twenty minutes." He goes walking every day and uses neither eye-glasses nor a walking cane.

By following John's example, we can remain healthy into a grand old age.

John belonged to a generation that thought sixty five was old! Every generation (except a certain generation of our time that reverted to sugary diet and laziness) adds years to life expectation, because of advances in nutrition and medical care. If John, of his generation, could live to a health century, then 130 is possible for my generation, if we have the intention of long life and take steps to maintain our health and fitness as we advance in years.

Persons mentioned are real, but names have been changed.

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