How to Look Good at 97 and Beyond
You're 97, Really?
To look at Mr. Herrera, you'd think he's in his early 70's tops. When he tells you he's 97 you shake your head in disbelief. That's what an employee at Chumash Casino did when he picked Mr. Herrera up from the floor after a fall. "You're 97? You've got to be kidding."
He is a handsome Latino man who has his hair and a winning smile. He is a nifty dresser and is thin and he still likes to walk, albeit with a cane nowadays.
Mr. Herrera interests me because he has lived for so long and he keeps on ticking. What is his formula for longevity? I have no doubt that Mr. Herrera will make it to 100. But how does he do it?
Here's a brief overview of his life. His wife is 92 and his sister is 94. He was born in New Mexico and at a young age his family migrated to a little town in the central coast of California called Santa Paula. He has lived there for almost 90 years. Although he's retired for forty years, almost a lifetime for some, he's had several jobs. As a kid he used to pick lemons and oranges in the fields and he'll tell you about the long hours and about the little money he made at the time, but he won't complain about it. He was grateful for the work. He wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty.
Mr. Herrrera is of Mexican decent and has been married for over 70 years to the same woman. They have one daughter who lives up the hill in Santa Paula, California. He lives in the house that he built many moons ago, a two bedroom bungalow with a nice garden and carport. His wife is the apple of his eye. Together they watch the Los Angeles Dodgers on TV and periodically go to the Chumash Casino to play the slot machines whenever they can get a ride.
What do you think the most important determining factor of longevity?
Genetics Help A lot
Mr. Herrera has many reasons he has lived so long, but a big factor is that he has good genetics. First, he's Latino. Latinos tend to live longer than the average American, approximately 2.5 more years. Second, he has a family history of longevity and perhaps a "longevity gene." His sister is 94 years old. Some other important traits that help him live longer include:
- He's even tempered. He doesn't get flustered. He has a knack to remain emotionally in the middle. If something bothers him, he'll let you know but he won't go nuts about it or hold on to the anger.
- He eats and drinks in moderation. He doesn't overeat. He drinks a lot of tea that is known for its healthy anti-oxidant benefits. He doesn't stuff himself at dinner time and he is only a social drinker--one beer is the max for Mr. Herrera.
- He is an optimistic and positive person. You will rarely hear a negative word come out of his mouth--only if the Dodgers are losing will he say something derogatory.
- He has healthy hobbies. He likes to work in the garden and in his garage, although in later years he has done less due to declining energy.
- He is permanently married. He has been married to the same woman for the past 70 years. It is a relatively friction free marriage with a lot more good times than not. They have a marital and spiritual bond that is unbreakable and will last forever.
For more information on the longevity gene, click this link: http://www.einstein.yu.edu/centers/aging/longevity-genes-project/
Mr. Herrera is a Proud Man
Mr. Herrera served in the military and he is very proud of that. He helped to build roads in Europe to help transport militia and supplies to allies in World World II and thus he was apart of our winning the war.
He is proud of his contribution to California agriculture. All during his younger years he worked the citrus fields and withstood the hot California sun and saw the farms develop and grow to where they are today, one of the top producers of citrus fruits in America.
He's proud of being a foreman of a highway construction unit. He demonstrated great supervisory and people skills and determination in this job, despite only having an 8th grade education.
He's proud that his father once baked bread for Pancho Villa. For your information, Pancho Villa was a famous Mexican Revolutionary general and the Governor of Chihuahua in the early 1900s. By the way, he's very proud of his Mexican heritage and the fact that he can speak both Spanish and English very well.
He's proud of the three houses that he's built. Imagine, building a house by yourself and dealing with the complexities of plumping, electricity, foundation, and all the other structural decisions that one has to make in building a home. In that sense he was a Renaissance Man. He was a man who knew how to problem solve and showed the patience and fortitude necessary in making a dream of building a home become a reality. When he talks about it, his eyes light up. When you listen to his story of how he did it, you're simply awestruck!
And he's also proud that when he was younger he supported two families--his family of origin and his marital family. He did it with love. He always put his families first.
Other Positive Influencers of Longevity
- High income
- Post graduate degrees
- Being happy
- Exercising regularly
- Getting enough sleep
- Having a pet
For a more extensive list of longevity influencers, check out this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/23/100-ways-live-to-100_n_3956896.html
Love is All You Need
I remember an interview of Deepok Chopra at the La Costa Resorts a few months back. In the interview he identified one thing that people could do to maintain good health. He said, "Being in love is the single most important thing we can do for our health." For being in love is healing and rejuvenating and it helps to regulate the systems in our body.
Mr. Herrera, even after 70 years of marriage, is still in love with his wife. They spent a wonderful life together and they continue their loving journey as they both approach 100 years of age.
Mr. Herrera loves his family and his wife's family. He often hugs and displays loving gestures and comments. His love is reciprocal. They enjoy visiting him, having family meals with him and helping him out as much as possible. He has wonderful family support.
Besides good genetics, I agree with Deepok Chopra, that loving others and, especially, being in love is a key to a healthy and long life.
Mr. Herrera's Formula for a Long Life
Married and in Love
Quiet and peaceful home
Good problem solver
Positive and Optimistic
Mr. Herrera Lives in a Dream House in a Dream Town
Santa Paula is a sunny little town along the central cost of California. It is where Mr. Herrera has lived for the majority of his long life. It was the place where Mr. Herrera met the love of his life. It is a place where there is little pollution, hardly any violence, and very little traffic. There are beautiful mountains surrounding the town, hawks and small planes flying overhead, and several gorgeous beach towns only a few miles away. It has a Mediterranian climate and only about 60 miles or so from downtown Los Angeles. It has cool summer breezes and very little rain and clouds to dampen anyone's dreams. There is very little stress in Santa Paula. For Mr. Herrera it has everything. It is a perfect fit for a man who wants to live a long and fruitful life. It has his family and friends. It has yummy Mexican restaurants. It has a post office, a train station, a supermarket and a place to get some ice-cream. It has peace and quiet and none of that fast past city stuff. It is a place to raise a family and to grow old...very old.
Do you know someone who is approaching that magical century mark in years? What is that person's formula for longevity? Your feedback is welcome.