FYI Daily

5 Life Tips From the Long-Lived

Last updated: Mar 20, 2012

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With age comes perspective about what really matters in life. Caregivers can learn a lot from their loved ones by having conversations along those lines -- and, when shared, that wisdom lives on forever as the stuff of legacy. That's what gerontologist Karl Pillemer of Cornell University realized. He collected the views of some 1,000 adults ages 65 to 108 as part of his Legacy Project.

Pillemer's 2011 book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, distills the best-of advice from these long-view experts. In Healthymagination's Healthy Outlook blog, writer Erica Manfred highlights these five gems:

1. Travel first, buy stuff later.

"If you have to make a decision whether you want to remodel your kitchen or take a trip, I say take the trip," said a 78-year-old. "Travel when you're young because your health allows you to do things you can't do when you're older."

2. Say it now.

"Send flowers to the living. Because by the time they're gone there's no point in sending them."

3. Avoid a rift with an adult child at all costs.

The biggest regret in the Legacy Project? Losing a relationship with an adult child. Make the first move and be willing to compromise to avoid an estrangement, those interviewed said. Parents have more to lose than adult children when it comes to rifts, especially if there are grandchildren involved.

4. Always be honest.

"I think honesty controls everything," said an 83-year-old. "If you're honest with the people around you, no matter what happens you can face yourself in the mirror in the morning."

5. Plan ahead where you (and your parents) will live.

Ah, isn't this the one caregivers think about a lot? (If only Mom/Dad/Grandma/my spouse had planned for this sooner....) Indeed, regret over having had denial about a future in which help will be needed was a common theme among those in the Legacy Project.

Here's one more smart insight from Pillemer's Legacy Project website: "That's what life's all about -- returning the love of those close to you and gaining the respect of everyone else."

What would your loved one add to the list? Or what about you -- what have you learned on your way to living to 100?

Image by Flickr user sarniebill1, used under a Creative Commons license.