Rachel Mabel Agnes Hill turned 100 years old last October 28, 2010. In today’s world, that’s old but not that unusual. The U.S. Census estimates there were 70,490 centenarians as of September 1, 2010 (wow!).
In This Living Up To 100 Article:
Meeting A Centenarian
So how does a 100-year health lady really feel?
Who is Rachel the centenarian?
What does a 100 year old lady do all day?
More about Centenarians
Do You Still Want To Live To Be 100?
I met Rachel Mabel Agnes, the day we both had our routine check-up with Dr. Huong Duong, an internal medicine specialist in Tustin, California. Because it was just a few days before her 100th birthday, the staff gathered, sang “Happy Birthday,” and presented her with a cake. That’s when I found out Rachel is probably healthier than I am.
At 100 years old, Rachel has survived breast cancer and has a slight propensity to diabetes, Dr. Duong says. But that didn’t stop Dr. Duong from giving Rachel a birthday cake wrapped in a frosting ribbon.
According to Rachel’s for her 100th birthday, relatives came from Florida, Alabama, and Washington. But then when all her relatives went home, Rachel felt awfully lonesome as she is living alone.
I asked Rachel how she really feels about her life. “Pretty good, overall,” she says. “Except I get a backache when I stand up too long.” And she adds, almost apologetically, “Of course, I never knew anyone who lived to be 100 years old.”
“I must say I’m not unhappy,” Rachel says. “But I’m not real happy either.
“I made up my mind I was not going to worry or complain in my life. That’s all my mother did. If I think I’m trying to work up a lot of sympathy—well, I just think of other things.”
Rachel’s one sadness was losing her husband, Kenneth, 17 years ago. “We were married for 59 years,” Rachel says. “It was a very good and happy marriage.” Rachel and Kenneth were married in 1934 in Santa Ana, California. He was drafted during World War II but didn’t serve long, she says. “He was not an athletic type, and they took them on 5-mile hikes and had them slogging around in the mud and stuff.” Her husband developed pleurisy and was eventually discharged. He got better, Rachel says. “He lived to be 81. He was a good man, and he had a long life, although not as long as mine.”
Rachel Mabel Agnes Hill is legally blind, a childless widow who lives alone in a mobile home in Tustin, California. Jennie Martinez, also a resident of the park, comes around four times a day to feed and walk the dog and check on Rachel.
Another friend brings Rachel seven Kentucky Fried Chicken mashed potato bowls every Saturday. Rachel lines them up in her refrigerator and heats up one for dinner each night. She drinks two bottles of Glucerna, a diabetes drink—one for breakfast and one for dinner.
According to Rachel, she has lost her sense of taste and smell so she doesn’t really mind eating the same thing every time. She says that fried chicken bowls are easy to warm up.
“I sit all day and listen to the radio,” says Rachel. “I love baseball games. I don’t turn on the television because I can’t see it.”
As for Rachel’s daily routine, she is up around 10 a.m. and in bed around midnight. “I’m not a good sleeper.” adds Rachel. The centenarian plays with her dog, Julie, her 10th Boston terrier every day.
Most centenarians are optimistic, says Dr. Thomas Perls is the founding director of the New England Centenarian Study and is the author of the online Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator.
Because most centenarians have avoided some of the debilitating illnesses that come with age, centenarians have a positive attitude, he says.
Dr. Thomas Perls has been studying the oldest of the old since 1994, and the New England Centenarian Study he leads at Boston University has found some not-too-surprising results:
- Centenarians eat healthy.
- Centenarians exercise.
- Centenarians tend to have a positive outlook on life.
“Well, I think I’m positive,” Rachel says. “I like living alone. I use a cane, and I’m very careful because I don’t want to fall and break a hip and end up having to live with other people. But I suppose I can’t live alone forever. That’s my only worry.”
Still want to live to be 100? Then check out your chances. Go to LivingTo100.com and fill out the age calculator. The only thing missing from Dr. Perls’ calculator is how centenarians are going to pay for those extra years alone or living with others. But again, if you start to worry about the cost of growing old and living to be 100, you will lose your positive attitude. And the rest is up to nature, naturally.
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About the Author:
Jane Glenn Haas is a multi-media personality – a newspaper writer, national columnist, book author, television host, professional speaker and founder of WomanSage, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering, educating and fostering mentoring relationships among women at midlife.
Jane has been twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, she has been honored for Excellence in Aging Reporting with the Hugh Downs Award of the International Longevity Center; the American Society on Aging Media Award; the American Medical Writers Association Rose Kushner Award; the American Heart Association C. Everett Koop Award; the Alzheimer’s Association Rosemary Award, and many others.
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