“Cutting the lawn and growing tomatoes.”
This was the response of a dapper nonagenarian, Howard, when asked what being an active senior meant to him. At age 90, he still lives with his wife Ellen (87) in their own White Rock home.
Ellen, an elegant woman, proffered “being involved in your community which keeps your mind active. And having a sense of humour!”
“And staying in your own home,” Howard added with a twinkle in his eye and an engaging smile.
I had the pleasure of meeting them both at the birthday bash of a much younger gal who is technically not a senior yet. Her name is the City of White Rock and she just turned 60 on the Easter weekend.
And what a celebration it was!
The venue was packed with seniors of all ages who had one thing in common. They know the importance of social connection and having fun as being vital to healthy aging.
The sun was shining outside and inside the laughter and joy was palpable as they enjoyed a nutritious lunch and music provided by Nearly Neil (Diamond), who is an active senior himself, still on the entertainment circuit. (Not to be outdone by his Zoomer contemporaries Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger!)
It’s fun to be a senior. Especially an active senior.
According to the Government of British Columbia’s website, by 2031, almost one in four people in B.C. (that’s more than 1.3 million people) will be over the age of 65.
Active aging is about more than physical activity. Active aging also means being involved in your community and making healthy lifestyle choices.
And on this commemorative afternoon, there was no recitation of the litany of aches and pains which usually accompany old age.
No moaning or groaning about the plethora of losses experienced as we become older.
No wallowing in self pity as gravity defies us as the malevolent mirror would have us do.
Instead the room was filled with an attitude of gratitude.
“I’m grateful I’m able to continue living,”says Nancy (74), a busy senior who lives in South Surrey. “I appreciate the fact that I can feel. I have emotions which means I’m alive!”
She shares this appreciation with others in the room including Denis (70) and his wife Carmelle (69).
I’m on the right side of the grass!” exudes Denis, whose positive attitude “inspires him to help others.”
For Carmelle, this optimistic attitude is contagious and inspires her to “walk, exercise, keep busy and enjoy life.” And that includes Zumba and the gym twice a week!
One of White Rock City councilors, Helen Fathers, although not a senior herself, gets it. She says the reason there are so many active seniors in White Rock and the peninsula is due to the “walkability of the area with lots of sunlight.”
She added there are “so many people young at heart and full of spirit.”
She also stressed the sense of community as was observed in the outpouring of community spirit during the last two fires in the City.
Denice (69), an Executive Board volunteer with the White Rock Surrey chapter of CARP – A New Vision of Aging for Canada – sums it up nicely.
For her, being an active senior is all about “getting out and being social, making new friends, having fun and making a contribution.”
And dancing as many did to the upbeat tempo of Nearly Neil’s Cracklin’ Rosie.
This birthday celebration exemplified what research has told us about healthy aging. The three main ingredients are diet and exercise, social connection and having a purpose in life.
I know Howard and Ellen would agree as their lives incorporate all the aspects of a healthy, active lifestyle.
And if the sun continues to make an appearance, Howard will be out there mowing the lawn and planting his tomatoes.
With Ellen by his side.
No time to get old as these two have too much active living to do.