Having recently celebrated my own birthday, I can say that aging–and in particular, aging well–is something I think about more and more each year. Considering all of the history I’ve witnessed in my own relatively short life (so far!), I’ve come to realize that while getting older can have its down side, that is far outweighed by the amazing experiences that come with, well, experience.
I enjoy drawing inspiration from the seniors that I work with. Recently, I was told by four centenarians that aging is not something to dread. It is something to be celebrated. Each year is another milestone in the history of the world that you get to participate in.
Now, I realize that this is a bit of a Hallmark sentiment, but to hear it from folks who have broken the century mark really makes me stop and consider.
These centenarians live at Tequesta Terrace in Florida, and in the months of April and May that community will celebrate the birthdays of those 100 and older. When I think of the kind of things that George Heideman, 102, Edith Scotto, 100, Rita Yoos, 100, and Beatrice Edmunds, 101, have seen in their lives, I am astonished.
They witnessed historical events such as the Great Depression, World War II and the conflicts that followed, the Civil Rights movement, the wonders of the Space Age and so much more. Now add to that the personal events that almost all of us go through in our lives: childhood, high school, marriage, kids, work and everything else, and you start to understand how rich these folks are—in experience.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than two out of every 10,000 people are a 100 years or older, which makes having four centenarians living in one place extremely rare! In fact, four centenarians works out to approximately one one-hundredth of one percent (.01%) of the total U.S. population over 100. To put that in perspective, four baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) would account for only about five one-millionths of a percent (.000005%) of the total boomer population, a number which my calculator is happier to display using scientific notation rather than using so many zeroes.
Rita Yoos says that the secret to longevity is all about your state of mind. She suggests that if you stay positive and keep doing the things you enjoy, you will increase your life expectancy. Beatrice Edmunds continued driving, golfing every week and swimming at the beach every day until she was 99 years old. Now she keeps busy with painting and can be found enjoying time with her friends at Tequesta Terrace.
So, next time you face a birthday and want to just ignore it—don’t! Embrace your age and the time you have spent on this earth, and keep marching on!