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How to Be Happy at 90

The number of people living in the 90-and-up age bracket is the largest it has ever been and will continue to grow at a record pace. Now that there are more of us sticking around longer, promising research into our longevity is starting to show that there are some things we can do as we age to retain a good quality of our life.

Groundbreaking study

For the past decade, Dr. Claudia Kawas, a geriatric neurologist and professor at the University of California–Irvine, and a team of researchers have been studying the effects of aging and dementia on people 90 years of age and older in California’s Laguna Woods retirement community.

One of the longest and largest population studies ever conducted on the oldest of the old, the 90+ Study offers interesting insights on longevity that should make you optimistic about reaching the later years in your life. 

Whether or not we’ll be having the same discussion in 25 years about people living past the century mark, Claudia believes we will all soon be more familiar with the term “supercentenarian."


Surprisingly, the study is finding supplemental vitamins seem to have little to no effect on longevity. This is especially true with vitamins A, C and E.

Alcohol and Coffee

People who drink up to two alcoholic drinks a day have a 15 percent reduced risk of death over their teetotaling counterparts. One to three cups of coffee daily are proving to be better than none at all.


As we enter our later years, it’s better to have a little more in the midsection, the study is finding. People who are slightly overweight in their 70s tend to live longer than those who are underweight.


The less active we are, the more prone we are to develop disorders like dementia. The activities don’t have to be strenuous, either—walking, dancing and even gardening up to 45 minutes a day can add years to our lives.

Leisure Activities

People who spend more than three hours a day on nonphysical activities, such as reading, solving puzzles or visiting with friends, tend to have a decrease in mortality and a lower
prevalence of developing dementia.

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