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Living a good life way into the 90s

April 17, 2016
Chuck Hunt - Register Editor (chunt@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

It is always fun for us to do one of our Senior Sections here at the Register.

After all, it is interesting to hear someone tell you their life history, and then go to work turning that biographical information into a wonderful story for you, our readers.

I enjoy talking to old folks.

And, yes, I can almost hear the snickering of some of my young co-workers when they read that last sentence and say, "That's because you are one!"

All kidding aside, many older senior citizens have led interesting lives and love to tell about it.

Some are even quite witty.

One of the reporters who worked here at the Register called older couples "cute."

But, doing these stories always gets me thinking about getting old. (Please, no more snickering.)

After having done dozens of interviews with people who are getting way up there in years, I wonder why some are doing better than others.

When we hear about people who are 95 to 100 years old, we automatically assume they are in a wheelchair in a nursing home somewhere and are suffering from dementia. And, it is true, some are.

But, I keep running into ones who are a long ways from that.

My favorite example of an old person in good shape was Ike Enderson. After all, at the age of 102, Ike was still living in his own home, still driving his car all around town, and he had a younger girl friend, who was 'only' 85.

Ike was still going strong at 106, even after he had to move into the nursing home because of bad knees.

There are many other examples of this phenomenon as well. Our story this week about 99-year-old Harriet Heppner of Delavan, is another person who is doing well as she approaches the centenarian mark.

She has some good advice for living to an old age and still be in good shape. She keeps fit both physically and mentally by walking and reading.

I am trying to do that, too.

I have a couple of personal examples of living to a ripe old age, and both involve aunts of mine.

My aunt Alice is 93 and still living in her own home in Winona.

She still does all her own household chores like cooking, cleaning and laundry. She walks several blocks to the grocery story to do her shopping each week.

She also mows her lawn, has a large garden in the backyard and shovels her sidewalk in the winter.

Aunt Alice grew up on a farm, then raised her own family on a farm before she and her husband retired and moved to a house in town, the one where she still lives.

She knows how to work hard, even at the age of 93.

And, she does all this while being legally blind. Yes, blind. She can see just enough to get by.

My wife, Pam's, aunt Dode (short for Dorothy) is a young 94.

She, too, lives by herself in her own apartment in a senior living cooperative in Rochester.

It is sort of funny when I tell people I am going to visit my 94-year-old aunt in Rochester and they assume she is ill and at the Mayo Clinic.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Like Alice, Dode still cooks and cleans and shops. She still has her car and drives around town. She doesn't use a cane or a walker.

Dode has a busy social schedule and gets dressed up and goes out to events and lunch often pretty much every day. That includes trips to plays and concerts in the Twin Cities. And, church every Sunday.

At the age of 90 she was still golfing a couple times a week and still going camping along the Whitewater River. She has slowed down on those types of physical activities a little. But just a little.

She is so active that it is difficult for many people to keep up with her. Not just those folks her own age, but people who are much younger than she is.

Like me.

Her secret to a long life is to stay very active and have a whiskey cocktail every afternoon for 'Happy Hour.' Maybe two.

So, why do some folks not only live a long life, but also enjoy a 'good' long life? And others wind up in the nursing home in a wheelchair?

I don't know for sure. I think it is both genetic and the things you do to keep fit physically and mentally. And, of course, you need to somehow avoid getting a serious disease like cancer.

My friends and I all agree, though. If we live to be 100, we want to be "with it," and able to think and still be active.

We want to be like Ike, Harriet, Alice and Dode.

 
 

 

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