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Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 12 September 2011

At age 95, Ida Keeling holds the world sprint running record for 90-year-olds

Who are the healthiest 90-year-olds in Portland, and what lessons can we learn from them? The Portland Clinic is holding a competition to find out. The clinic is offering cash prizes to three of the healthiest Portlanders who have attained the age of 90. The grand prize winner will win a cruise to Alaska for four.

The idea for the contest came up when the Portland Clinic itself turned 90 years old on June 1, said Mike Schwab, CEO of the private clinic.

"We thought it would be a good idea to emphasize health on our 90th birthday and see if we could identify any healthy 90-year-olds out there. And reward them for behaving themselves and living a healthy life." The Skanner News Video: Ida Keeling, sprinting at 95.

Schwab said the clinic has learned from seeing patients that good genes are just part of the recipe for staying healthy into your 90s. Diabetes and coronary heart disease, for example, are linked to a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. "It's basic things like: eating right, exercise, a good outlook on life. There are disease processes that you can't necessarily stop, but lifestyle issues play a big role in how successful we are at minimizing the risks of early death and bad health."

The world's fastest nonagenarian is 95-year-old Ida Keeling who started running when she was 67.

Contestants must have been born between Aug. 23, 1911 and Sept. 21, 1921,. And must live in Clackamas, Multnomah or Washington county Ore. Nominate the healthiest 90-year-old you know, or, if that's you, nominate yourself. You can enter the competition online at The Portland Clinic's website or the Portland Clinic's Facebook page or in person at The Portland Clinic. The downtown office is located at 800 SW 13th Avenue, Portland, OR 97205

Schwab said Americans are paying higher insurance premiums than we need to because we overuse medical services. One cure, he suggests, would be to focus more on prevention and empowering people to take more control of their health through developing healthy habits.

"I think as a nation we have to get a little more disciplined in how we live, so we don't need to access the health care system as frequently," Schwab said. "I think healthcare reform is going to in a sense shift responsibility a little bit to the patient, as far as paying some of the upfront costs. The insurance costs are outrageous right now and it's because we are overutilizers of services. Reform is going to change the way we look at things. For providers, it's going to influence us and reward us to do things differently."

Instead of just stepping in when patients become sick, Schwab said, medical centers will prioritize prevention, and efforts such as educating people on how to live a healthy lifestyle, and encouraging them to follow doctor's orders.

"It's amazing how many people do not take their medicines or do not even get their prescriptions filled – that the doctors prescribe, and that only perpetuates the problem."

The private clinic is collaborating with Kaiser Permanente to improve follow-up care and make the best use of the EPIC medical records system.

So how did the Portland Clinic stay healthy for 90 years?

"We treated our patients well and they rewarded us by keeping us in business."

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