Having looked at how life has changed for older people over the past 100 years, we’ve been seeking out the secrets behind some of the oldest, healthiest societies on the planet and, importantly, if chocolate really is the key to wellbeing.
First, let’s consider Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment - the oldest person ever recorded who lived to the impressive age of 122 years and 164 days. And you guessed it, she was a self-confessed chocolate lover, whose mornings began at 6:45am with a milky cup of coffee.
Jeanne’s love of chocolates and coffee powered a lifestyle that included fencing, cycling, tennis, swimming, roller-skating and mountaineering. Jeanne cycled right up until her hundredth birthday, although it’s not known if her last rides were to the local chocolatier!
So, is chocolate the answer? Well, it’s no coincidence that in neighbouring Switzerland you will find both the world’s highest chocolate consumption and the highest life expectancy for men.
However, as much as we’d like an extra nibble of chocolate to be the key to everything, the Swiss take exercise, leisure time and having a healthy work-life balance seriously; There are 41,135 miles of hiking trails in Switzerland, and almost half (44%) of Swiss between the ages of 15–74 identify themselves as active hikers.
The longest life expectancies in the world
Longer lives are not just confined to the West. In Japan, the average life expectancy is 83.7 with the highest female life expectancy in the world (86.8). Last year there were an impressive 65,692 people in Japan over the age of 100, compared to just 14,570 in the UK.
The secret? The Japanese diet is rich in fresh fish with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and is low in calories and saturated fats, meaning illnesses connected to processed foods like heart disease, diabetes and cancer are less of a concern than in the UK.
Japan also actively promotes positive well-being and prevents the elderly and less well-off from the damage of alienation. For example, in Japan many seniors take up volunteer work after retiring and there is good access to stress-relieving cultural activities.
Live longer in peace
Singapore, meanwhile has the third highest overall life expectancy of 83 years, 1 month and second highest female life expectancy of 86 years and one month. Their national flag features 5 stars, which represent the country’s ideals; democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality. Respect for different religions and personal beliefs is something they take seriously as a nation. Proving how health and harmony can go hand in hand.
So perhaps there’s no one secret trick to a long life and whilst we can’t control how long we live, we can control how well we live, how we are remembered and what happens when we’re gone.
If you’re planning a healthy, active lifestyle, no doubt you’ll want to make sure you’ve put plans in place to support you and your family. Which is why we created our unique Over 50s Life Insurance with Cash In Option policy to provide a financial helping hand for your loved ones when you're no longer around.