Young at Heart

“And if you should survive to 105,

Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive!

And here is the best part, you have a head start

If you are among the young at heart”

~ From “Young at Heart” by Frank Sinatra

Dorothy Custer of Twin Falls, Idaho says doing what is necessary and having a good time is the key to a long life. At 102, she went BASE-jumping off the Perrine Bridge. Why did she decide to jump? Dorothy replied simply, “Probably because I don’t know any better.”  Experts say Dorothy’s zest for living and pursuit of new experiences is exactly what keeps her young.

Not alone. Even when there is little to prove, seniors are “living large,” like is the case for President George H.W. Bush, who made a tandem parachute jump on his 85th birthday.

Ardell Lien, 71, a heart and kidney transplant recipient, flew around the world solo to promote organ transplants. When 91-year-old Lucille Borgen won the Woman’s 10 slalom at the Water Ski National Championships, the crowd went wild. Elsa Bailey, who is legally blind, went downhill skiing on her 100th birthday.

Pay it Forward.  Staying young isn’t just about thrill seeking. Retirees in Sun City trained with Osher Institute’s Legacy Leadership Project to be consultants for Arizona non-profits. Retirees “want meaningful engagement in the community… to utilize and build on skills they’ve developed throughout their lives,” says Diane Gruber, director of Osher. At ASU, retirees and traditional students conduct collaborative research benefiting local communities. Professor Vincent Waldron’s team studied needs and preference of senior residents, publishing an article on the process. In Waldron’s Communication and Aging class, retirees shared experiences, created podcasts, and reviewed the accuracy of films on aging.[1]

Staying Young. Though certain factors are beyond our control, try these to stay “young at heart”:

  • Volunteer, socialize, network: Personally rewarding activities are shown to provide mental and physical improvement and feelings of self-worth.
  • Take a class: Learning new skills increase brain activity, cognition, and mental awareness.
  • Get outdoors, exercise: The sun and nature enhance mood, while exercise protects against disease, improves heart health, and helps with pain management.
  • Release the inner child: Play helps distress the mind and body and connects and bonds people to one another.

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