Increasingly, the scientific community is shifting its focus to this elite group, these "successful agers" who seem to be doing a better job of getting old than the rest of us.
And what they're finding isn't what you'd expect.
Some of the reasons people age well are obvious. For years we've been told that the best way to stay healthy is to eat the right foods, maintain a healthy weight, exercise -- and hope you have good genes. While all of that is true, a voluminous body of aging research shows that some of the most significant enemies of old age are far more insidious than a penchant for fried food or a couch-potato lifestyle. Instead, how well we age may be intrinsically tied to our most basic personality traits, the social relationships we have formed and -- perhaps most important -- our ability to cope with stress.