Professor Maeve Rea, Consultant Physician and Senior Lecturer in Geriatric Medicine at Queen's University Belfast spoke to the Club Monday 26 February about her research with 4 study teams from UK and Europe (Belfast, Bologna, Tampere and Warsaw) into Ageing well – Genes or Lifestyle identifying factors that may contribute to 'successful ageing'. Her presentation was very interesting and thought provoking.
She stressed that understanding how to age longer and age well is a priority for us all: personally, people and populations and policy for Governments. Lack of exercise and foods are changing our genes over time. She emphasised that we must encourage people to make lifestyle changes; we can't change our genes but we can have some control over our ageing - it is never too late to change behaviour - optimism, exercise and fitness are key as is eating prepared not processed foods.
She advised that the EU-funded study interviewed 3200 pairs of siblings aged 90+ across Europe asking structured questions such as "What do you think makes you a survivor?" and highlighted some of the personal stories and survival secrets they heard. She summarised the key findings from the nonagenarians as: maintain good mental and physical interests and activities; eat properly; enjoy good social networks and family life; develop a resilient, adaptive, optimistic personality; choose parents who have long-lived relatives.
Professor Rea had copies of her, and her daughter Susan’s, book Super Vivere- Reflections on Long Life and Ageing Well for sale with proceeds going to The Silver Line Charity.