July 4, 2014, was more than a patriotic day for Goldie, a resident of senior hotel Holiday Villa East (HVE) in Santa Monica, Calif. This splendid holiday was also Goldie’s 100th birthday. Goldie joined the prestigious ranks of centurions—people who have lived to or beyond 100 years.
A delicious barbecue at HVE featured traditional hot dogs, hamburgers and spicy chicken wings. A mariachi band played while residents, guests and caregivers danced. But the highlight of the celebration occurred when Goldie stood, party-goers applauded and the band serenaded Goldie with “Happy Birthday to You.” As Goldie basked in the beauty of the moment, 104-year-old Jack applauded from a nearby table. Jack is on his way to becoming a supercentenarian—one who has lived to or beyond 110 years.
Welcome, Joan’s Journeyers. Here’s a bit of centenarian trivia. In 2012, the United Nations estimated there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide. Only 33 people worldwide have indisputably reached 115 years.
John W. Santrock, author of “A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development,” identifies seven factors most important to becoming a centenarian:
- Heredity and family history;
- Health, weight and diet;
- History of past or current smoking;
- Amount of exercise;
- Educational level;
- Personality; and
Santrock notes the largest groups of centenarians are women who have never been married and people who have been through traumatic life events and learned to cope. Moreover, centenarian lifestyles often include:
- Nourishment rich in grains, fish, and vegetables;
- Food plan light in meats, eggs, and dairy products;
- Low stress;
- Caring community where seniors are not isolated;
- Proper health care and personal care;
- Emphasis on activities like walking and gardening; and
- Spirituality, where a sense of purpose comes from involvement and prayer eases the mind.
Joan’s Journeyers, why in a blog series about senior living residences am I presenting a mini-geriatrics seminar? Perhaps it’s obvious from my lead. Our centenarians, Goldie and Jack, magnificently represent folks living the lifestyles described by Santrock. Goldie, Jack and I live in a senior living community that exemplifies centurions.
In the last Joan’s Journey, I described three key words that spell “CAT.” “C” represents changes occurring in my daily life at HVE. “A” stands for the necessary acceptance of new, different and potentially negative situations that may occur. “T” relates to the permission of time I’ve given myself to become comfortable with the changes. In upcoming blogs, I will discuss life as a resident of HVE and how I accept and cope with CAT and a centurion lifestyle.
Journeyers, have you encountered CAT at senior living or along life’s Journey? SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to share your experiences below. Until the next Joan’s Journey, enjoy the trip, day by day.
Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle correspondent and noted magazine writer/editor, now specializes in freelance writing/editing of issues relating to seniors. London moved to a senior community in Southern California, where she has enhanced her quality of life and is close to her children and grandchildren. Follow all of Joan’s Journey at SeniorHomes.com.