How to Live Forever

This is the title of a documentary I recently borrowed from the library. Written and directed by Mark Wexler, this film explores the subject of aging with a very wide lens. Wexler travels all over the planet, investigating therapies and cutting-edge technologies designed to help us live longer. He also interviews those who are living well into their nineties and over one hundred years to learn about what makes for a long and happy life.

(My mom celebrating her 86th birthday.)

Some of Wexler's discoveries are what you might expect. For example, the people of Okinawa, Japan are notorious for living over 100 years. He investigates their traditional diet (untouched by the Western influence of fast food, refined carbs, trans fats, etc.) and their way of life. The elderly here are active, pursuing the same work and leisure activities they've been doing all their lives. They continue to fish, swim, garden, dance, cook, and clean. Their lives continue to be full and filled with meaning.

But something you might NOT expect is the Japanese couple creating ELDER PORN. Yes, this senior couple makes explicit videos for commercial consumption. The short excerpts included in this documentary were But not quite as odd as the robot therapy offered in nursing homes: elderly patients are offered robots--instead of pets--to cuddle.

Another very strange anomaly is the aging British rockstar, a former member of the Zimmers, who washes taxicabs for a living now that he is in his mid-nineties. He needs the cash for pints of ale and the cigarettes he's been smoking since he turned seven years old. He recently decided to run a marathon (!!!) so he hired a personal trainer and successfully completed the 26.2 mile race. He took 5 breaks, but drank NO WATER, only had a pint of ale and a smoke at each rest stop. (WARNING! This training method is NOT recommended by this blogger!)

Wexler spends time with Jack LaLanne (this documentary was made before his death) and learns about the benefits of exercise. He investigates criogenics and learns how much it might cost to preserve your entire body or just your brain in an enormous vat of liquid nitrogen. (Both expensive.) He visits Loma Linda, the home of the Seventh Day Adventists who often live into their nineties and beyond. He talks to scientists who are researching life extension through methods such as calorie restriction. Did you know this is one of the only proven methods of extending lifespan? Can you imagine eating approximately 30% fewer calories each day? You can also fast for certain days or hours of each day to achieve similar benefits.

Check it out at your local library. I would recommend this documentary to anyone interested in aging well. Or anyone looking to have a good laugh.