Thursday, August 8, 2013


I'm enjoying being a part of Author's Alley at Malice Domestic.

In a few days I’ll be celebrating a milestone birthday. I’ll be three quarters of a century old. The good news is I will live at least another ten years according to a test I took from an article in the newspaper. That is if I don’t get hit by a meteorite or a falling tree while I’m walking in the woods. Or I don’t get tripped by one of my two cats when I’m coming down the stairs in the morning, or knocked over by Maggie, my large collie, as she enthusiastically greets me whenever I come home.

Dr. Martha Cruz of the University of San Francisco VA Medical Center is the lead author of a study that has a 12-item list of health questions that help predict changes for dying within ten years for patients aged 50 and older. The “mortality index” is designed for doctor-patient discussions about which treatments may be too risky for patients with limited life expectancy.The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers analyzed data on almost 20,000 Americans over 50 who took part in a national health survey in 1998. They tracked the participants for ten years. Nearly 6000 participants died during that time.

The 12 items on the “Mortality Index” are assigned points; fewer total points means better odds.

·         Men automatically get 2 points. (that leaves me out) In addition to that, men and women aged 60 to 64 get 1 point; ages 70 to 74 get 3 points (that’s me or at least when I took the test); and 85 or over get 7 points.
·         Two points each; a current or previous cancer diagnosis, excluding minor skin cancers; lung disease limiting activity or requiring oxygen; heart failure; smoking; difficulty bathing; difficulty managing money because of health or memory problem; difficulty walking several blocks. (No points here for me.)
·         One point each; diabetes or high blood sugar, difficulty pushing large objects such as a heavy chair (How heavy? On a carpet or not?)  being thin or normal weight. (Whoa! Now how cool is that! I have a few extra pounds and apparently thinness in older age could be a sign of illness, Dr. Cruz said.)

The highest, or worst, score is a 26, with a 95 percent chance of dying within 10 years. To get that, you’d have to be a man at least 85 years old with all the above conditions. For a score of zero, which means a 3 percent chance of dying within 10 years, you’d have to be a woman younger than 60 without any of those infirmities – but at least slightly overweight. That’s me scoring a three since I’m over 60 and slightly overweight.

So this was very positive news for me. Add to that, my Advantage Medicare insurance company, Aetna, makes sure I go to a doctor regularly. They actually bug me and my doctor about that because I tend to put off going when I feel perfectly good.  I have sort of a Garrison Keillor Lake Wobegon attitude. Once a year is good enough when I get around to it. 

So back to Aetna.  They sent me more new research that shows people tend to grow happier as they get older. According to the research, it suggests that in general, people are choosier about how they spend their time as they get older, and they’re more likely to do away with activities or friendships they don’t really enjoy and focus more on people and things that matter most.

My cousin, Thelma, and my 80+ Uncle Adrian at a recent reunion

Research also shows we older and more mature people become better at seeing the positive side of situations. Of course, there are no guarantees anyone will be happy at any age, but the odds are better as we grow older. And, of course, being happy at any age depends a lot on what life offers us, although the research showed only about 10% of a variation in happiness is due to uncontrollable facts. That means 90% is rooted in thoughts, feelings and behaviors within our control.

It’s my opinion that a lot of our health and happiness depends on how we spend our life. 

On  a daily walk in the woods with my dog.
Do we keep active? Do we socialize with family and friends? Do we learn new things and challenge our brain? Do we look forward to each new day and what it brings? Do we give to others in some way? Volunteering is a very positive uplifting thing. Some research shows pets have a positive effect on our health, too. And most of all do we refuse to harbor negative thoughts, resentments, and anger whether it’s against someone we know or something else? It’s not that we should all be like Pollyanna cheerfully skipping through life, but if something causes us anxiety and anger, we need to try changing it if we can or let it go if we can’t.

What do you think is most important in bringing happiness?

How do you deal with anger, irritations and resentments?

What do you do to keep healthy physically and mentally?


  1. Glad you’re in good shape and have lots of years ahead of you.

    We're in the midst of a two-week trip so don't have time for detailed answers, but I will say that I believe we are responsible for our own happiness.

    ~ Jim

  2. Thanks for the reassuring post. I just turned 75, never felt better in my life, do my yoga, have lots of people around me, and think writing keeps my brain active.

  3. Jim, I agree with you, at least to some extent. Some people have terrible things happen to them, but for the most part, I also think we can still decide whether or not we're going to be miserable or happy. I'm in the middle of a ten day visit with my daughter and then my sister. Enjoy your trip.


  4. Yes, yes, yes, Judy. Keeping active both physically and mentally keeps us healthy both mentally and physically as does having family and friends. Gloria

  5. Fabulous!! Happy birthday and I am so happy that as we age we are sharing an enthusiasm for life that seems to extend our lives by decades.

    Writing and exercise keep me healthier than I would otherwise be.

    Friends and family keep me happy and I am realistic about the irritations that come along--it could always be worse.

    Thanks for posting the link to this "pick me up" post.

  6. It seems unlikely that I will keel over any time soon. Writing is a fine mental exercise and I am blessed to have close family and friends.

  7. Happy birthday, Gloria!

    Thanks for posting this. According to your test, I should live at least 10 more years, as well. Score of 2.

    And since I've finished my revisions a whole week ahead of time, I feel like I might! ;-)

    I think Jim's absolutely right. We take our own happiness or unhappiness with us wherever we go and whatever happens to us.

  8. Happy Birthday, Gloria! I'm glad you have many years of writing ahead of you.

    I try to exercise everyday by walking, riding a stationary bike, or using light weights. When I feel irritated (usually due to malfunctioning technology) or mad and need to snap out of it, I refocus my negative energy and do something kind for another person.

  9. Happy Birthday, Gloria. Like Linda, I scored a 2 as well. Happiness is a frame of mind that we control. Being thankful for the good in your life and appreciating the people in your life contribute to happiness. Being in good shape promotes all aspects of your life. Have a great visit with your daughter, Gloria.

  10. One thing to do to live longer is stop reading these prediction surveys.
    Happy Birthday, Gloria. Hope you are enjoying your vacation.

  11. Hi Gloria -
    You are one of the busiest ladies - whew!
    Didn't Abraham Lincoln say that most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be?
    A positive, grateful outlook is good medicine, as is spending time with those you love and doing what you enjoy.
    Happy birthday!

  12. Thank you for your comments and good wishes, Terrie, Warren, Linda, Kara, E.B., Pat (funny about reading predictions) and Shari. And now my daughter and I are off to see the San Francisco Zoo; something we haven't seen yet in S.F., and maybe have lunch along Fisherman's Wharf and see the seals which we do every time I come here. - Gloria

  13. Happiness is being your blog partner, Gloria. May you have a wonderful birthday and a glorious year! Best wishes.

  14. Although there are times in life that are very definite exceptions, I find that the older I get the happier I am.

    My health isn't as good as I used to think it was, but nothing I cna't cope with.

    Happy Birthday, Gloria, and many happy returns of the day!


  15. Thank you, Paula. I so enjoyed meeting you at Malice and getting to know you better through this blog.

    Thank you, K.M. You are right that sometimes life throws things our way that keep us from happiness, but it seems easier dealing with those things the older we get. Gloria