Houston physician shares tips, says we should expect to live longer than past generations

Melanie Lawson Image
Friday, August 11, 2023
Houston doctor gives advice to living a longer life
It's a very exclusive group of people - those who have lived to be 100 years old and older. ABC13 spoke with a doctor about good habits to a longer life.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's a very exclusive group of people, those who have lived to be 100 years old and older.

Nonetheless, it's one of the fastest-growing segments of the population in the U.S. More than 90,000 Americans have reached the century mark.

Dr. Holly Holmes at UT Health Houston is a geriatrician - a physician who specializes in the treatment of older patients.

She says we should all expect to live longer than past generations, and for a variety of reasons.

"The first reason is better medical care, even for chronic illnesses, and a dramatic drop in childhood diseases. So more people are living into their 80's and 90's." Holmes said. "I've had patients who've lived into their upper 90's who smoke and drink and have bad habits and never exercise, and it's just so phenomenal to me. That's genetics."

But those seniors with bad habits are the exception.

In general, Dr. Holmes says there are certain common practices she sees in those who live long and prosper.

"Some of those common sense things we know we need to do," she continues. "Things you know."

One suggestion is to move more. It doesn't have to be heavy exercise, walking regularly will do.

Another practice is eating better and having a more plant based diet.

She also says it's important to have social connections, avoid loneliness and isolation, and have a group of people you can confide in and count on.

Additionally, she says it helps to have some sense of purpose and some type of spirituality.

Lastly, when it comes to facing tough times, Holmes said, "I think that older adults have a remarkable ability to cope and are incredibly resilient."

As for living longer, Holmes has remarkable predictions for the future.

"Of the people who are in middle age now, a substantial portion will live into their 80's and 90's," she notes. "But it is striking to think that somebody born between 2000 and 2010 has maybe a 50-50 chance of living to 100."

She says the number of centenarians nearly doubles every decade or so. That means more of us and our children and grandchildren will be living to 100 or beyond.

In fact, the United Nations is predicting we will go from 600,000 people over 100 years old in the world now, to more than 3.6 million people by the year 2050. That's more than six times as many in less than three decades from now.

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