A nursing facility in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, recently held a party for three women who are over the age of 100, to celebrate their long lives. The women were asked their secret to longevity, and each one had a different response. Sophia Smith says she’s lived to 101 because she eats lots of chicken soup. Lucille Price (100) says she has no secret, and doesn’t eat anything special. Grace-Marie Baker, who is 102, attributes her long life to God looking out for her.

If you ask Emma Morano, the oldest woman in the world at 117, the secret to long life is eating nothing but eggs and cookies! She can’t eat much else because she has so few teeth.

It doesn’t seem like there is one answer to the question: “How to live a long life?” In nursing facilities, the challenge is even greater, since patients arrive with diseases and can easily contract new infections. Nurses and nursing assistants can help prevent spread of disease with preventative medicine.

Regular exercise

Prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and arthritis starts with regular exercise. 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week should do the trick. Even immobile patients can do light exercises in their beds, and others can exercise sitting down or standing up.

Healthy eating

Patients who are eating well and keeping their weight down are less likely to contract diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis. Nursing facilities have set menus, but nurses and CNAs can ensure that patients are eating the right amount and that they’re not sneaking food that could be detrimental. They can also model healthy eating and talk about the importance of nutrition with their patients.

Managing Existing Diseases

No matter how healthy the food and how much fitness takes place, there will still be disease in a nursing facility. Managing existing diseases with medication and changes in behavior can help minimize the symptoms of the disease and stop it from spreading to other patients.

A Big Smile

The secret to a long life may very well be to live a happy one. CNAs who bring cheer to their patients by walking around with a big smile on their faces may in fact be lengthening their patients’ lives. The greatest thing about a smile is that it costs you nothing – no time, no effort and no energy. Just paste a smile on your face as you go about your business, and your patients will feel happier instantly!