You already know it, people are living longer. When I was a kid, most of my great aunts and uncles passed on in their 70's - after becoming immobile and somewhat irrelevant. Mom died at 79, Dad at 65.
But now, people are living into their 80's, 90's and 100's - and living with purpose while exploring new opportunities.
Last week, for instance, a news story aired about a 100 year old woman (Georgina Harwood), who celebrated her birthday by sky diving. Then, the next day, she swam with the sharks!
These stories inspire me. I'm just in my mid-sixties, but already feeling the effects of age on my body. But, aging bodies don't have to be immobile or irrelevant.
Meet active 80 year olds. They inspire us all to hope that our elder years will be filled with mental and physical activities, love, companionship, enjoyment and accomplishment.
Warren Buffet, Oracle of Omaha
Founder of Berkshire-Hathaway, Warren is one of the richest men in the world. He is 84 in 2015 and still heading up his financial kingdom. As shareholders, we hope he lives long and stays involved!
My family was excited to attend the annual shareholder meeting of Berkshire (lovingly called the Woodstock for Capitalist) last year in Omaha. Warren and his side kick Charlie Munger held the stage for hours in the huge Century Link auditorium answering questions interspersed with gentle digs and one liners. Warren gently teased Charlie that he felt younger with Charlie on stage with him (Charlie is 91 and worth only 1.3 billion).
As part of the meeting carnival, Warren challenges stockholders to throw a newspaper closer to the door of the Clayton Home porch (set up in the exhibit hall). Warren threw papers to make money in high school.
Forbes estimated that he is worth 71 billion as of 3/24/15.
John D. Rockefeller
The New York Times paints a brief and interesting picture of this business magnate
"John D. Rockefeller in his 80s was known to his business associates as a crazy old man possessed by the stubborn and ferocious will to know why the world wags and what wags it, less interested in money than in the solving of a problem in geography or corporate combination."
Liz Smith, The Grande Dame of Dish
Liz Smith is a journalist best known as a gossip columinst for the New York Daily Times (but syndicated to around 70 newspapers). She graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism in 1949 and worked her way up the ladder of success. She has appeared on television and written several books, one a best seller.
Today, in 2015, she is 92 and writes for The Huffington Post.
Paddy, at 80 years old, decided to take up Salsa dancing Here is the routine that brought the crowd to its knees on Britons Got Talent. She flips, twirls and slides her way into the crowds hearts and brings the judges to their feet in admiration. I couldn't make these moves at 20!
Sister Madonna Buder, the Iron Nun in 2012, at age 82, completed the Iron Man Triathlon. This is a 0.93 mi swim, a 25 mi bike ride, and a 6.2 mi run.
She lives in Washington and functions as an active working nun. She provides counseling to people in her community and has also earned two masters degrees.
According to the article on impower Sister Madonna Buder Sets Ironman Triathlon World Record (Again) she had a dream to become the oldest Ironman Triathlon finisher and has pursued that dream even when faced with obstacles.
German gymnst Johanna Quaas is now 89. In 2012, she was entered into the Guiness book of world records as the oldest gymnest. Here you see her doing a floor routine floor routine that includes head stands handstands and flips. She is also great on the parallel bars, doing an amazing plank hold - which requires more strength than I have at 67.
The Virginia Beach Beacon thinks that Al Newbury, at 80, is the baby of the competitive swim team he is on. Three of his five team mates are over 86. Born in 1934, he didn't take up swimming until 1995. He swims in the 80 to 84 age bracket and is pretty darn fast (200 meters - about 656 feet - in 4 minutes1 0 seconds).
Some of my exercise routines have limited kick boxing routines, so when I saw in Kansas City.com that Helen Dugan, at 80, not only has a third degree black belt in American karate, but also runs a non profit camp called Camp Achievers to teach martial arts to kids who others won't take I was impressed. I know how hard those martial arts moves are! Helen can do a spinning back kick and break boards or bones with her feet.
Climbing a mountain can't be easy (I've never tried), so when Yuichiro Miura scaled Mt. Everest at age 80, it was impressive. He currently is the oldest person to do so. The oldest woman to climb it is also Japanese and was 73 when she made the climb. According to CNN, Miura said:
"I have a dream to climb Everest at this age," he said. "If you have a dream, never give up. Dreams come true."
Have you noticed that models are getting older these days as well? As we Boomer generation women age, we want to be able to relate to what is being showcased. Its hard to do that with a 19 year old strutting down the runway.
Now Celine (a French ready to wear and leather goods luxury brand) has selected American author Joan Didon to be its 'face'. Joan published her first novel in 1963 and a best seller in 2005 (The Year of Magical Thinking). She is 80.
Laverne Everett went viral in a video of her taking a sky dive for her 80th birthday. Her harness wasn't adjusted properly and she slipped out of it and had to hang on for dear life until she (and her tandem partner) landed.
She stayed home for her 81st birthday but is already thinking about the next one. ABC News reported:
“I never have ridden in a race car,” she said.
My aunt went for a hot air balloon ride for the first time while in her early 80's. Her granddaughter went with her. The landing wasn't so smooth. The basket bumped along the ground and my Aunt had to climb a fence to get back to the truck that was waiting for them.
Bob Staher is also in his 80's, living in a retirement community in Lancaster county. He is an active bicycler and wanted to see his favorite route from the air. His first time ever hot air balloon ride was just the ticket.
Back in 2003, I had scheduled a hot air balloon ride, as it is something I've always wanted to do as well (I already did the sky diving gig back in the 1970's). Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate. Hopefully I don't have to wait until I'm 80 to get my ride! I'm working on the Grandson to go with me.
People Magazine reported that Georgia Gorringe, 86, published her first book in 2014. "No Good-Bye" is a steamy romance novel that surprised (and probably embarrassed) her daughter. Georgia self published the book too!
I've already published my first book (Choose Wealth, Be a Millionaire by Midlife), but hope to write many more!
80 year old Dorrie Jacobson, launched a Senior style blog (and got it noticed by Huffington post which is more than I've managed to accomplish with this blog)
She has been featured on Buzzfeed and is on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest with it! She is planning on a You Tube channel as well.
People aren't just one thing during their life. Most of us know Kirk Douglas (yes he still lives) as an actor, but at 98 he is still giving interviews and just completed his last (he has 10 others) book - Life Could Be Verse: Reflections on Love, Loss and What Really Matters.
When I was in my fifties, I thought it would be a waste of time and money to pursue my masters degree. Willadene Zedan got her bachelors degree at 85, in 2013, and stepped into a job at once, despite the down job market when thousands of younger graduates had trouble finding a job.
Can we all look forward to active 80's?
Of course, these folks made the news because they are exceptional. Will all of us be that active that long? Perhaps. Scientists are working on why some not only live long, but also live well. The Daily Mail reported on a study being done at Northwestern University in Chicago - calling it the Super Aging Study. The researchers (and I) are hoping that they can find factors that can be used for the rest of us.
The study has included an 80 somthing attorney, a 96 year old retired neuroscientists, a 92 year old Holocuast surviver and an 81 year old pack-a-day smoker.
The researchers are finding that the outer layer of the brain (the cortex) is thicker in these guys and inside the brain, a region important for attention (the anterior cingulate) is bigger than it is in people my age.
The participants seem to have more energy than their peers and have a positive, curious outlook.
Long, active lives do tend to run in families, so many believe there is a genetic reason, but staying positive, curious and active appears to also help.
What do you plan on tackling when you become an octogenarian? I need to get started making my plans - I've only got 13 years to figure it out! It's almost like asking what I will be when I (finally) grow up. The possibilities are endless - should I live so long and remain active.