Scientists have uncovered the secrets of the psyche the most long-lived people on Earth

© Fotolia / Gabriele RohdeПожилой people looking at the picturesScientists have uncovered the secrets of the psyche the most long-lived people on Earth© Fotolia / Gabriele Rohde

Italian researchers have found unusual common features of the psyche of the elderly people in Italy living in «the hearth of longevity» to the South of the country, whose study may help to reveal the secrets of their longevity, according to a paper published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics.

«There are many studies on long lived people, but in fact they all relate to their genetics, not mental health and personality. We have shown that this group of centenarians there is a unique common features of the psyche such as perseverance, a positive attitude towards life and strong ties with family, land and faith,» said the Dzhest Dilip (Dilip Jeste) from the University of California at San Diego (USA).

The Geste and a number of other gerontologists and biologists under the leadership of Salvatore di Somma (Salvatore di Somma) from the University La Sapienza in Rome (Italy) for several years studying the so-called «longevity center» in the area called Cilento, where they live extremely elderly and healthy people.

The average life expectancy in the Cilento for women is a record of 92 years, and 85 years for men, almost 10 years longer than the average for Italy. There are several such regions on Earth, including Okinawa, Sardinia, Ikaria, and each of them always attracted the attention of scientists wishing to unlock the secrets to long life and health in old age.

The science team Di Somme, through his personal connections in the region, was able to enlist the support of three dozen very elderly residents of Cilento at the age of 90+ years, living in the village of Acciaroli, and about six dozen of their younger relatives. Two years ago, they helped scientists to discover certain genes and proteins of longevity, and now gerontologists interested in how features of their psyche can be associated with a long life.

To do this, scientists conducted a series of surveys among older people and their younger relatives, assessing the level of their mental and physical health. These surveys revealed some interesting details that are typical for the Champions, but not for their grandchildren, children and great-grandchildren.

For example, all older people, despite the rather poor state of health, much less suffered from depression, anxiety and other mental health problems than their younger relatives, and also had a high level of optimism and «workaholism». In addition, they were unusually strongly tied to the land and to the family, on whose territory and in whose company they lived.

«It is possible that the love for the land, a common feature of all these older people, is the secret of their longevity. Most of them continued to work at home, and on their fields. They may think, «this is my life, my land, and I’m just not giving it up,» concludes Anna Scelzo (Anna Scelzo), a colleague of Di Somme.