Cayman’s life expectancy explored

Julia Almeria Hydes, the oldest living Caymanian, celebrated her 105th birthday this year, exceeding by far the average life expectancy here.

Figures released in the Cayman Islands Compendium of Statistics 2013 show that, on average, Cayman residents live to the age of 82.

The report, conducted by the Economics and Statistics Office and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, found that the average life expectancy in Cayman is 82.3 years. Women in Cayman on average live to 84.7 years, five years longer than local males, who live to 79.8 years of age.

The World Health Organization lists Iceland as the country with the highest life expectancy for males: 81 years, and Japan with the top life expectancy for females: 87 years.

Dr. Ruthlyn Pomares, chairman of the Cayman Islands Health Practice Commission, said it is normal for women to outlive men.

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“Usually males typically engage in riskier behaviors and women tend to be more open to accessing healthcare,” she explained.

“The biblical life expectancy is threescore years and 10, which equates to 70 years. So our life expectancy is encouraging,” she added.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook lists Monaco as the country with the highest life expectancy worldwide – an average of 89 years. Macau in southeast Asia holds the second highest life expectancy with 84.48 years, followed by Japan in third place, with an average of 84.46 years. In the World Factbook listings, the Cayman Islands is ranked 24th in the world with an average life expectancy of 81.02 years.

Research conducted worldwide by Dan Buettner, Blue Zones team of scientists, and the National Geographic found that there are five “Blue Zones” in the world. These are places that have high concentrations of centenarians. According to the Blue Zones Project’s website these areas include: the interior of Sardinia, a remote peninsula in Costa Rica, a Greek island, a Japanese archipelago, and a community in southern California.

Longevity on island

In 2010, centenarian “Aunt Julia” Hydes told the Cayman Compass that the secret to a long life was “cornmeal dumplin’, fish and gravy with potatoes and grated coconut.” Ms. Hydes is only six years younger than the oldest man in the world, a New Yorker, who died at 111 in June.

She also said the most important ingredient to a long life was a relationship with one’s maker and relying on the promises in the Holy Bible.

Daisy Christian, who at the age of 107 was the oldest person in the Cayman Islands, was buried in Cayman Brac in July 2012.

A number of Cayman residents celebrated their 100th birthday recently. Brac resident Myrtle Dean Brown marked her birthday with family and friends in July, and Clara Smith, a resident of West Bay, turned 100 on Thursday.

Dr. Pomares said there are a variety of lifestyle changes people can make to improve their life expectancy, such as a healthy diet, which includes more natural foods than processed foods, physical exercise at least three times a week, and “tending to our spiritual and psychological needs.”

“In order to maintain or even increase our life expectancy, the Cayman Islands medical community needs to continue to deliver healthcare of the highest standard,” said Dr. Pomares.

“Residents [also] need to take responsibility for their well being by making lifestyle changes that promote longevity and accessing healthcare on a timely basis,” she added.

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