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Guide to surviving revolution and war: the life of Theodor Abrahamsen

My father’s family survived – barely — both the Russian Revolution and the Nazi occupation of Norway. This included potential execution, a Nazi concentration camp, lack of food, brutal winters, and the constant threat of disease. As Russian tanks stream into the Ukraine, the crazy-quilt pattern of history repeats. Politics aside, until recent decades epidemics of smallpox, H1N1 (including the Spanish flu of 1918), diphtheria, typhus, cholera, malaria and the like left a trail of devastation wherever they went. Improved personal hygiene and public health measures like sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics are also recent phenomena. Case in point: Theodor Abrahamsen, my Uncle Teddy. Even after his hundredth birthday, he lived alone, doing his daily exercises and solving the Rubik’s Cube. He took regular boat trips to the northern tip of Norway and returned once a year to his old school in England. A multi-sport varsity athlete in his youth, he

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Longevity

Just how long can you live?

Humans may be able to live for between 120 and 150 years, but no longer, according to study published online in the journal Nature Communications. Using a mathematical model, it predicts that after 120 to 150 years of age the human body would lose its ability to recover from illness and injury. The study is based on data from more than 500,000 volunteers condensed into one number that measures the physiological toll of aging: the “dynamic organism state indicator.” The model suggests that even under ideal circumstances, key biomarkers of aging would eventually decline so much that they could no longer support a living organism. Therapies that extend the body’s resilience may eventually enable humans to live longer, healthier lives. The other factor is quality of life. Beyond a certain point, if a person is too frail to enjoy life, what’s the point? How many times does a heart beat

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Longevity

Five Things Centenarians Taught Me about Longevity

A few years back, while writing the book Age to Perfection: How to Thrive to 100, Happy, Healthy, and Wise, I had the chance to sit down with several people who had lived past their 100th birthday. Much of what they said was similar, as if it were scripted. Common sense that we seem to have forgotten over the years.  While my new friends may not have understood the science behind their advice, they knew from personal experience that it was all true. Living a long life isn’t that hard, but it takes discipline. Here’s a bit of what they all seemed to agree upon: Never Stop Moving They all seemed to find a way to keep moving. One of them still had a gym membership, while others were sure to go for at least one long walk a day. In addition to staying fit and limber, research shows that

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