Longevity Archives | Seacrest at Home


Blue Zones

One of the greatest aspects of my job is that I get the opportunity to meet individuals that are living well beyond average life expectancy. In fact, many of these folks are physically, cognitively and emotionally dong exceptionally well. When I meet these people in their 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s, I am always extremely curious as to the “secret” to their healthy long life. Luck, desserts, exercise, vegetables, laughter, love, friends, reading and good genes are just a few of the common answers I hear. However, the casual way in which I have been collecting data will never lead to any firm conclusions on what we can attribute to long life.

Therefore, my search to find the answer to longevity, led me to the book, The Blue Zones, written by explorer/author Dan Buettner. In his book, Buettner travels the world to find what he calls hot spots or “Blue Zones,”-communities of people that live an exceedingly longer life than the rest of the world. Once he discovered these “Blue Zones,” he would then study the people in these communities and their lifestyle to see what was attributing to their impressive longevity. Mr. Buettner found 5 distinct “Blue Zones” or places throughout the world that had populations of people that had substantially longer lives than other through the world. The 5 locations of extreme longevity are:

· Ikaria, Greece

· Loma Linda, California

· Nicoya, Costa Rica

· Okinawa, Japan

· Sardinia, Italy

While each location had their own story and reason for longevity, Dan Buettner was able to compile 9 overlapping common tendencies. Below is a list of the 9 themes he suggests we all live by. I was particularly impressed/excited about #8 as we, Seacrest at Home, strives to help keep people in their own home!

  1. Move Naturally 
 The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.
  2. Purpose  The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy
  3. Down Shift
  Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease.  What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.
  4. 80% Rule 
 “Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.  People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
  5. Plant Slant
 Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.  Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of deck or cards.
  6. Wine @ 5 
 People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all weekend and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
  7. Belong
  All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.
  8. Loved Ones First 
 Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).
  9. Right Tribe 
 The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.

I find these 9 principles of life to be very simple and possible for all of us to employ. Clearly, one’s adherence to this template will not guarantee that one lives a long and healthy life. However, it is hard to ignore that living by these principles has been proven successful for many all over the world.

If you are interested in learning more about the author or his book please see additional references below:



Seacrest Village-Yom HaShoah

​​​​​​​I was born in the right place. I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood with an abundance of safety and tolerance. My parents were never afraid to hang up our Mezuzah. I was proud and unafraid to tell my classmates that I am Jewish. I had many of my non-Jewish friends attend my Bar Mitzvah. In my adult life, I truly cannot remember a time that I have felt uneasy or a lack of opportunity because I am Jewish. My story is unfortunately not the norm for our Jewish people. In fact, the persecution that my ancestors faced, in late 1800’s during the Russian pogroms, initiated their immigration to America. Their immigration ultimately helped pave the way for me to be born in this “right place.”

These thoughts came about during the moving service we had at Seacrest Village on the Day of Holocaust Remembrance, Yom HaShoah. Warren Odenheimer, the keynote speaker of the service, started his story by telling the audience, “I was born in the wrong place.” Born in Germany shortly before Nazi rule, Warren and his family began to feel significant oppression and anti-Semitism. Fortunately, Warren and his family were able to leave Germany shortly after Kristallnacht. As a young man, Warren and his family were uprooted from their home in Germany. The Odenheimers migrated through Russia and then spent time in the Orient.

With only $8 dollars to their name, the family was granted visas to come to America, where they settled in San Francisco. In 1941, he enlisted in service and is a WWII Veteran. He has spoken to other groups about his story to help us ensure that we will not forget.

A moment at the Seacrest Village Yom HaShoah service, that I hope to never forget, occurred when Rabbi Patti asked all of our Holocaust survivors to stand up and light a candle. The candles symbolize and honor the 6 million Jews that were murdered. I was overwhelmed to see 22 survivors, our residents, proudly light these candles. (We have an additional 5 survivors at Seacrest Village Rancho Bernardo) As time goes on, the ability to see the faces and hear the stories of people who lived through this horrific time in history will become more and more of a rarity. Once these survivors are gone, how will we carry on their memory, legacy and message? How will we ensure that future generations grow up in the “right place” like I did?

We still have an incredible resource of people living and articulating their story and message. It is our responsibility to listen and never forget, so we can pass their teachings down to future generations to ensure that this will never happen again. It is an honor to work with and live amongst a group of people that inspire us to make the world a more tolerant and loving place.
Jon Schwartz


By Heather Siegel of the Siegel Sidebar
Posted December 13, 2015


This holiday season will mark the 8th year that I gave up driving. Not in golf but on the road. There are only two types of people in the world: those who drive and those who don’t. You always know which camp you are in.

Kids can’t wait to get a driver’s license. Seniors feel assassinated when they have to give up their privilege. Some drivers don’t have whiskers when they start. Most of us would cut our throats before we give it up.

For most of us former drivers, it is a medical condition that has short-circuited our lives. There are many reasons listed on death certificates but I doubt that giving up one’s driver’s license is a legitimate cause. Ours is a slow death that culminates in a loss of self-esteem, lack of mobility, and a sense of daily frustration.

Every time I enter a grocery store to shop, I am asked if I need help out to my car. I am sure the statement is meant well. It is possible to have a license without a car. But when I gave up my car, I gave up my standard of living. You see, I no longer can come and go as I please. That is an activity of daily living that I miss the most.

Perhaps that is why the Home Shopping Network has become so appealing lately. HSN gives me a full presentation in color, directly in my home. I press buttons on my phone to make an order. The landlady calls me when the package comes in. And I can schedule my trip to the Post Office to send back my returns.

I can leave my house, I have learned begrudgingly. It’s just that I am dependent upon someone else to drive my car or to navigate the bus. I am wisely careful about who I ask to have the job of being my tour guide. Sitting in the passenger seat has given me a new perspective on my career choices. Ask anyone who has driven for me. I am a closet driving instructor. Turn on your turn signal. Make only right turns. Don’t run through the yellow light. Keep your eyes on the road.

My drivers complain with a degree of compassion, that driving Miss Daisy is an experience extra. No one gives more directions than I do. Perhaps a film director can be in my league. It’s not that I never got a ticket when I was a driver. It’s that no one driving me around is going to get one while I am in the vehicle.

You are the same person with or without a car, was the first piece of wisdom that my shrink shared with me. You gotta be kidding, was my response. In eight years, my opinion has not changed.

When my dear mother Ruth G. passed, she left me her car which almost four years later is still being maintained and insured. I appreciate the support that my brothers gave me to keep it running. Both the car and I are now Senior Citizens.

Today is Sunday. I could be at Church, Temple or at a Pot Luck. Everyone else is doing something so no one is around to drive me around. I called the bus service today to reserve a seat on the handicapped bus to take me to important meeting in La Jolla tomorrow. I would like to join a health club to participate in water therapy but you see, I don’t have a car so there’s no way to get there.

It’s not that I feel sorry for myself but it is hard to make a big splash without a car. It’s sort of like telling yourself that you are on a diet while eating pizza. As long as the pizza delivery man has a vehicle, though, there is a connection to the outside world. Unless he has a broken windshield, he’ll still be able to deliver.

Written on the 8th day of Chanukah and the 8th anniversary of my Adult Bar Mitzvah as I approach my 8th year of not driving a car. I still see the same shrink.

Background about the author:
Heather Siegel is a current client of Seacrest at Home. Originally from Chicago, now living in San Diego North County Inland, Heather is a Second-Generation Holocaust Survivor.  Heather and her mother Ruth G. Siegel, of blessed memory, are members of Temple Adat Shalom in Poway, CA.  A graduate of the University of Illinois and San Diego State University, Heather would like to continue her education at Palomar College and participate in the water therapy programs at Tri-City Wellness Center.  Heather is the proud mother of a Jane Russell Terrier, Miss Ruby Tuesday. You can reach Heather Siegel at heatheresiegel@cox.net.

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