We have been told in the past that the key to living to a ripe old age is a healthy diet and plenty of exercise – but it seems the sheer determination to carry on could also keep us alive.
Researchers from the University of Rome and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) studied 29 people aged between 91 and 101, who were unsurprisingly found to have worse physical health than their family members aged 51 to 75.
But when it came to mental health, the oldest inhabitants of nine villages in Cilento, southern Italy, were found to be in better shape than their younger relatives.
The main themes that emerged from the study, which appeared to be associated with the better mental health of the rural population, were positivity, work ethic, stubborness and a strong bond with family, religion and land.
This paradox of ageing supports the notion that well-being and wisdom increase with ageing even though physical health is failing.
With acknowledgement to The Independent on Saturday, 16 December 2017.