The basic tenet of Sage Vita is that each person finds his or her own path to active ageing. Here are the stories, in their own words, of four seniors over the age of 80. They are among the winners of the Most Beautiful Minds in America contest sponsored by the National Center for Creative Aging and the supplement maker life’sDHA and as reported in the Huffington Post in April 2012. I want to share these stories because there is much we can learn from them.
Alvin Reid age 81
Over the years I’ve written books, humor, magazine articles and columns, had several musicals produced, taught college courses and lectured around the world. I’ve never lost my missionary zeal for turning others on to creative involvement. I love life. Take my WORD for it. Words keep me young. As an accomplished journalist, songwriter, editor and author, I listen carefully to spoken words and play with words in numerous ways — writing words, punning words, inventing word games, writing song lyrics and much more.
As a word person, I love libraries and recently joined the board of the Westchester Library System. Professionally I use words as editor of Arts Management, which I co-founded nearly 50 years ago, as a magazine and theater writer. I entered a new phase of my creative life when I completed a full-length musical about life in an over-55 community. I take exercise classes and also belong to a Hikers and Walkers club. Thanks to my wife I eat a wholesome diet and keep my weight steady.
Arthur Berger age 91
S. Berger, 91, Aventura, Florida
I use the power of mind to slow the aging process. I wrote five books between ages 67 and 75, was elected to office at 76, founded a project matching school kids with older people at 80, and wrote and acted in a play at 86. Now I advocate for others as Ombudsman for the State of Florida Department of Elder Affairs. One of the most beautiful things a mind can do is to remove the age barrier that stops older people from continuing to do beautiful things. I feel and behave as I did years before, think and believe that I am younger, and deny not my age, but that I am old. I am living proof that the power of mind exists.
The use of mind power to reverse my aging process has a significant, positive impact on my mental health. I exhibit the four dimensions of brain health. Diet: I maintain my weight and take vitamins. Physical: I exercise several times a week, practice yoga and take jazz dance classes. Social: I go to the spa and attend the theater. Mental engagement: I study Russian, play the cornet and take music lessons.
Benjamin Nickson age 86
I exhibit the four dimensions of brain health. Diet: I maintain my weight and take vitamins. Physical: I exercise several times a week, practice yoga and take jazz dance classes. Social: I go to the spa and attend the theater. Mental engagement: I study Russian, play the cornet and take music lessons.
I count calories and take supplements daily. I use a treadmill, a sitting elliptical machine, lift 5-pound weights, and do chair Tai Chi. I go to the sauna with friends for relaxation monthly. I enjoy going to the Kennedy Center, and the Quotidian and Arena Stage theaters. I read the newspaper to dissect world and economic news.
I’m learning to play jazz and standards. I saw jazz musician Wynton Marsalis backstage, and he asked me to play my cornet with him in 2012. I’m practicing hard for that now.
Mary Turner Maher age 83
Despite debilitating arthritis, three joint replacements and a reconstructed foot, I keep my mind, body and spirit strong through hard work, exercise, nutrition and education.
I earned my Ph.D. after raising five children and battling colon cancer. My professional career included working as a school psychologist, director of special education and assistant superintendent. After retirement, I continued to work with low income and culturally diverse urban charter schools as a psychologist. Now I tutor low-income children with reading difficulties.
To these individuals, age is just a number. They continue to nurture their body and mind with exercise, nutrition, lifelong learning, engagement with the world, and making a contribution.