Health and Old Age Places with High Longevity: Transcaucasia Part 4

About the area of Transcaucasia in the former Soviet Union which has a high level of longevity, about the possible reasons behind it, visiting and tourism.


Diagnosis. Experts have countless explanations for the Caucasians' longevity. The centenarians themselves offer additional reasons. By general consensus, diet and the invigorating climate are praised as the 2 most contributory factors. Overeating is virtually unknown, and very few fat people (apart from Russian tourists) can be seen even in the seacoast towns. One centenarian attributes his long life to the fact that he bathes each morning in a cold mountain stream; another says that he has "never taken a nap in the daytime." Several others speak of the importance of a regular and active sex life. (Abkhazian men are potent even after the age of 70 and 13.6% of the women continue to menstruate beyond the age of 55.)

However, aside from the absence of hereditary "bad genes," the most telling reason for longevity here is "spiritual." These people expect to live a long life. Their familiar toast is, "May you live to be 300!" Dr. Leaf suggests that perhaps the U.S. is "a mortality-ridden society, programming our lives to a shorter existence." In the Caucasus there is a lifelong sense of usefulness. People there do not "retire," but continue doing daily chores of some sort until the very end. Moreover, they are granted respect as they age, and are turned to for advice. "Every day is a gift when you are over a hundred," one centenarian says, but it is a gift which is purposefully kept active within the society and its norms.

Guidebook. First you must contact Intourist, preferably through an experienced travel agency such as American Express, which will know the procedures to be followed. You must describe where you want to go, exactly, giving the specific dates of your arrival into the Soviet Union and your departure from it. Intourist will approve your visa application and handle the arrangements for your visit. Prepaid vouchers for hotel accommodations and meals will be necessary, also obtainable through Intourist.

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