The election of Mahathir Mohamad last week to the position of prime minister in Malaysia makes us rethink what it is to grow older.

Many of us may imagine that as we enter our 90s, we will be winding down and entering a slower phase of our life.

But there is a growing number of high-profile leaders that are maintaining, and even taking on, leadership roles as they approach 100 – making us rethink our assumptions about old age, and what we can expect to achieve as we grow older.

The Queen is 91 years old, and still performing an impressive range of duties. Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia’s president, is 91.

Dr Mahathir became the prime minister of Malaysia at the age of 92, making him the oldest head of government in the world, but he is perfectly able to keep up with other world leaders.

By comparison Xi jing Ping is only 64, and Donald Trump is 71.

These leaders are role models, who reveal that age doesn’t have to be a barrier to living a successful, happy, and full life.

Of course, good health and some luck are involved in living a long and healthy life.

Dr Mahathir, who was already Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, holding the office between 1981 and 2003, has retained his terrific wit, and is mentally as sharp as ever. He told Singapore’s Straits Times, that he attributes his longevity to not eating too much, and some say other world leaders would be well advised to follow his regime.

“Never overeat,” he said. “Once you become fat, it’s very difficult to become thin again.”

Trained as a doctor, Dr Mahathir said this advice came from his mother, but he also said his theory has a medical foundation.

Dr Mahathir, who has had two heart bypasses, said he has not tried stem cell treatments, despite rumours to the contrary.

Dr Mahathir said a love of reading and learning, developed in childhood, has helped him stay mentally sharp.

Dr Mahathir’s wife, Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, is also in extremely good health, and living an extremely full life at the age of 91. No doubt resuming her role as the wife of the prime minister will keep her busy, but she also plays the violin, and was the chancellor of the Multimedia University of Malaysia.

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