So, you’d like to live to be 100?

So, you’d like to live to be 100?

The good news is there’s a lot you can do to improve your chances.

The bad news is there’s some stuff you can’t control.

That’s according to Dr. Patrick Minihan, an internist specializing in geriatric medicine at Bridgewater Goddard Park Medical Associates in Brockton.

“Most people think, as with lots of other things, longevity has a lot to do with genetics,” Minihan said.

“That's something you and I can’t do much about. We need to focus on the things we can do something about.”

He compared the situation to driving. Just because we can’t control the other drivers on the road doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be safe drivers ourselves.

Minihan said behavior also plays a big role, not only in how long we live, but in quality of life.

He listed basic things like not smoking, watching your weight and exercising as boons to a good, long life.

More mundane precautions can also make a difference, he said.

Falls are a leading cause of death among the elderly. Twenty-five percent of women over the age of 80 who break a hip are dead within a year, and for men the death rate is even higher, Minihan said.

He recommends ridding the house of throw rugs and other tripping hazards and turning on a nightlight, as well as bone-boosting medications for people with osteoporosis.

Attitude is also key, Minihan said.

“I’ve been a doctor for over 40 years. The gang that sees the glass as half full rather than half empty almost always does better whether they’re 108 trying to keep it going or 60 and fighting cancer,” Minihan said.

Minihan got a firsthand lesson in his specialty when his elderly mother lived with his family for six years until her death at 92.

“That experience with my mother was an education second to none about the joys and sorrows of getting older,” Minihan said.

One thing he’s noticed in centenarians, particularly those who do well, is they tend to have highly supportive families who integrate them into activities, he said.

Lorraine Carrozza, director of elder affairs at the Bridgewater Senior Center, has a similar take on healthy aging.

Genetics plays a big part, but staying physically and mentally active is also key, she said.

“It’s important to do something that challenges you every day,” she said.

Carrozza agreed a positive attitude is also important. Negativity can be stressful, she said.

“It’s how people adapt to things and handle things and their coping mechanisms,” she said.

Minihan recommends a Web site called “How long will you live?” created by a group of professors at the University of Pennsylvania. The site asks a series of questions and then guesses your life expectancy.

It’s a fun illustration of his point about longevity being a product of nature and nurture, he said. The questions range from family history to fitness level to whether you tend to drive drunk.

To give it a try, go to

Anyone who makes it to 100 or beyond has almost certainly benefited from a combination of “good genes, good living and good luck,” Minihan said.

Bridgewater Independent