Two Centenarians and Their Doctor on How to Thrive at 100   

Two Centenarians and Their Doctor on How to Thrive at 100

Woman celebrating her 100th birthday.

If laughter is the best medicine, Laura Yanitelli is proof positive. At 100 years old, she exudes a robust sense of humor. “I like funny people, but I’m able to laugh at myself when I make mistakes,” she says.

Laura, of Rutherford, New Jersey, happily shares her tips for surpassing the coveted century mark, starting with what she eats: “Being Italian, I like a lot of vegetables, legumes and beans,” says the former nutritionist. “I eat chicken and fish, and I’m very careful about my cholesterol.”

Lifestyle Determines Health 

A new Edward Jones and Age Wave 2022 report, “Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement,” gives cues into how to live a long, healthy life. Among the five habits of highly successful retirees, the study finds they: 

  • Attend to their health
  • Stay socially engaged
  • Have a clear sense of purpose

To get there, start doing your work early in life instead of later, says Laura’s geriatrician Manisha Parulekar, M.D., director, Division of Geriatrics, at Hackensack University Medical Center and co-director of the Center for Memory Loss and Brain Health. She says maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the number one factor that contributes to longevity.

True, the genetic factors in your family history matter, but that doesn’t mean you should be complacent.

Specifically, Dr. Parelekar suggests:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthy
  • Regularly exercising
  • Managing your stress and behavioral health
  • Ensure you are fully vaccinated
  • Staying on top of health screenings

All of this may allow you to delay or minimize the possibilities of chronic illness, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Positivity and Moderation

Dr. Parulekar has another exceptional centenarian patient. “My mother has never thought of herself as ‘old,’” says Kurt Lewandowski of his 101-year-old mom, Loretta, of Clifton, New Jersey.

Her proud son says she has stayed active and eats well. “She once thought nothing of walking to her eye doctor’s office a mile away and uphill,” he says. “She has made-from-scratch chicken soup every day with fresh chicken.”

Loretta confirms she enjoys fruits and vegetables, and that she does arm exercises daily and repetitive finger movements to keep them nimble.

Kurt credits her positive thinking and moderation in all things with supporting her long life. “She has jobs around here, like folding clothes and helping her aide Miriam with chores,” he says. “She’s pretty much unstoppable.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help 

If you’re struggling to accomplish a health goal, you don’t have to go it alone, Dr. Parulekar says: “Ask your health care provider or a member of your care team for help. Think about the main reason you want to achieve this—maybe it’s losing weight or lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol numbers. We’re eager to talk to you in an honest conversation, and to find the resources and support that help you succeed.”

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.




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