Everyone’s doing it. We’re all getting older and accelerating across the decades of life. Positive aging is important and pharmaceutical companies are racing to provide new drugs to extend healthy living. People want to live longer and live healthier. Dr. Thomas Perls has developed a calculator that can be used as a guide to understand your aging potential. “In the United States, where the average life expectancy is about 78 years, centenarians account for about 1 out of every 6,000 people.” Yet it also has been projected that in 2025, one person out of 26 will reach their 100th birthday.
What are the odds of you living to 100 or beyond? There are factors that may contribute to the potential of becoming a centenarian, says Nir Barzilai, M.D. Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University 80% can be contributed to your environment and the remaining 20% to your genes
And there is a quality of aging that is important. For those who have enjoyed a strong social, intellectual and physical lifestyle, they are more likely to sustain those passions as they get older and reap the benefits.
The following centenarians have maintained their creative zeal and are still enjoying successful lives despite some physical issues that come with aging.
Irving Kahn, (born 1905) Investment Advisor
Irving began his career prior to the 1929 stock market crash and established the Kahn Brothers Group in 1978 where he shares his business with his son and grandson managing over $700 million in assets. Irving works 5 days a week in his Madison Avenue office and reads at least two financial newspapers daily. He has no plans to retire.
Rita Levi-Montalcini (born, 1909) Scientist, Italian Senator
In 1986 Levi-Montalcini and colleague Stanley Cohen received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovery of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Remarkably she was the fourth Nobel Prize winner to come from Italy's very small but very old Jewish community. In 1987, she was given the National Medal of Science, the highest American scientific honor. Rita is the oldest living Nobel laureate and the first ever to reach a 100th birthday.
Elliot Carter (born 1908) Composer
Elliot is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer who has been extremely prolific in his older years. Between the ages of 90 and 100, he published more than 40 works and three more since he turned 100. He received the Trustees Award (a lifetime achievement award given to non-performers) by the Grammy Awards and is on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center where he gives annual composition masterclasses
Eva Zeisel (born 1906) Industrial designer/ Artist
An industrial designer in her early career, she currently designs furniture as well as glass and ceramic objects producing “useful things” with soft organic shapes. Her pieces are in the permanent collections of the British Museum; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Musée des Arts Decoratifs de Montreal; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Knoxville Museum of Art and the Brooklyn, Metropolitan, Dallas, and Milwaukee museums.
Wesley E. Brown (1907) Judge
Judge Brown is one of four of the Kennedy appointees still on the bench and the oldest federal judge in the country. Wearing a tube that feeds oxygen through his nose, he is still active at the court but warns lawyers about lengthy hearings and says “At this age, I’m not even buying green bananas.” He refuses to focus on the hoopla over his place in history or his birthdays, he simply says “I’m not interested in how old I am, I’m interested in how good a job I can do.”
Milton Rogovin (born 1909) Photographer
Milton is a documentary photographer with a social passion. “The Forgotten Ones", considered his most recognized project, is a portrait sequence captured over 30 years showing a hundred struggling families in hardship living in Buffalo.. His work is in the Library of Congress, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Center for Creative Photography as well as other fine institutions.
Alice Herz-Sommer (born 1903) Pianist
Czech pianist and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, Alice is a steadfast optimist despite having lived a life filled with great loss and difficulty. She is also very self disciplined. Everyday she practices 3 hours starting at 10am, eats the same foods and continues to walk. "… life is beautiful, extremely beautiful. And when you are old you appreciate it more. When you are older you think, you remember, you care and you appreciate. You are thankful for everything. For everything"
Malcolm Renfrew (born 1910) Chemist
Renfrew produced a number of patents while working at DuPont including material for tooth repair and the first method of synthesis which would contribute to what was later known as Teflon. He became a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and on his 100th birthday, October 12, 2010 was declared to be Malcolm M. Renfrew Day in Idaho.
Norman Corwin (born 1910) Writer/Screenwriter, Producer
Norman was always a serious lover of words and drama so his early career in radio was a perfect fit. He has won the One World Award, two Peabody Medals, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a duPont-Columbia Award. He is still writing for radio and is a writer in residence at the Journalism School at USC.
Will Barnett (born 1911) Painter
A New York City artist with his paintings in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the Whitney, Will paints for 3-4 hours every day. His current exhibition is at the Art Student’s League in Manhattan where he began his art studies in 1931 when he moved from Boston. At the age of 10 he knew that he wanted to be an artist and now says “The old masters are still alive after 400 years, and that’s what I want to be.”
Ruth Gruber (born 1911) Journalist, Photographer, Writer, Humanitarian
Just months shy of her 100th birthday, Ruth is an extraordinary woman who has had an extraordinary career. A new documentary, AHEAD OF TIME,was created to catalog some of the many historic events in her life. By the age of twenty, Ruth earned a Ph.D degree from the University of Cologne and became the youngest person in the world to receive a doctorate. In 1935, she was the first foreign correspondent to fly through Siberia into the Soviet Arctic. Her life was studded by high level social political assignments.
Getting old is a fascination thing. The older you get, the older you want to get.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We don't grow older, we grow riper.