A recent study by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests that women whose mothers lived healthy lives into their 90’s may be a key indicator for longevity and overall health. The study was published in the Journal of Age and Ageing and examined over 22,000 participants over a two-decade span and found that women whose mothers live to at least 90 years old with no health problems have a 25 percent chance of living past 90 years old.
In cases where both parents lived to be at least 90-years old, the study found that the likelihood of women living into their 90’s increased by 38 percent. However, researchers did not find any increased longevity in cases where only the subject’s father lived to be at least 90 years old. One key caveat to the study is that the subject’s parents not have suffered any chronic health conditions like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.
The study is important because it helps to validate the view that genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors transmitted across generations may influence ageing outcomes among offspring. Although we cannot control the genes we are born with, we can however make healthy lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a good diet and getting exercise, that can create positive environmental factors to help us live longer, healthier lives and hopefully pass on those traits to our children.
While there is no sure fire way to influence how our genes will manifest themselves in certain traits, studies have shown that everything from meditation to how many hours of sleep we get can have an effect on gene expression. Furthermore, even if we have one parent or both parents that live long, healthy lives it remains important for individuals to practice healthy lifestyles to give themselves the greatest chance of increased longevity themselves.
In addition to the health and lifestyle consequences of taking care of ourselves, there financial realities that we need to accept. With the cost of health care on the rise with no apparent curbing in sight, coupled with the staggering cost of skilled nursing care, maintaining good health can help fend off the financial hardships associated with living with chronic health conditions that may deplete our retirement savings or otherwise for us to spend down assets to qualify for Medicare benefits ot pay for nursing home care.