Can positive thinking help Healthy Aging?

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Plain Talk by Al Neuharth, USA TODAY founder

September is Healthy Aging Month. No matter your age, if you are reading this, you are growing older.

The definition of “old” has changed. The biblical “three score and 10” (70) for one’s lifetime is outdated. At birth now, the average life expectancy in the USA is 74.9 for males, 80.7 for females.

More and more are beating that average. A year ago there were 63,474 centenarians (100 or older) in the USA. Now there are 76,597.

One who turned 100 this month is Ruth Stafford Peale. She is noted for her many professional partnerships with her late husband, Norman Vincent Peale.

He wrote the best seller The Power of Positive Thinking more than 50 years ago. Together he and she helped build the Horatio Alger Association, which annually honors distinguished men and women who made it from rags to riches. They also developed Guideposts, a magazine with stories of hope and inspiration that has a circulation of 2.5 million.

Peale died in 1993 at age 95. But her work didn’t stop. She recounted her approach to life in 2001 in her own book, A Lifetime of Positive Thinking. (Guideposts $12.95).

She’ll be the toast of the Big Apple on Saturday night when she celebrates her 100th (which actually was Sept. 10) with lots of big names and famous faces. Not bad for someone born in Fonda, Iowa, population 588.

I asked her this week how she did it.

“It’s all about thinking positive,” she said simply and enthusiastically. “Norman and I always were positive about everything, in our marriage, our work and our whole lives.”

Sounds like a formula worth trying. Healthy Aging Month might be a good time to start.

Feedback: Other views on aging
“Keep smiling. I’ve always tried to look at things in as happy a way as possible. There certainly are tragedies in this world, especially now, but I would certainly encourage positive thinking.”

“” Edward Rondthaler, 101 years old, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

“Positive thinking helps positive aging. So does walking, remaining active, preventing disease and staying engaged. AARP encourages you to get moving during Healthy Aging Month.”

“” Bill Novelli, CEO, AARP

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