Inspiring Elders News Articles
Amazing Elders Show What's Possible
The amazing stories of the incredibly inspiring elders below show us what's possible in our elder years.
Can you believe that a 99-year-old woman is still teaching yoga and a 92-year-old woman completed a 26.2 mile marathon?
If we do our best to take good care of our bodies, we are much more likely to be able to fully enjoy the latter decades of our lives.
Tao Porchon-Lynch is 99 years old, and she’s still practices – and teaches! – yoga regularly. So what’s her secret to staying happy and active? “Every morning I wake up and say this is going to be the best day of my life – and it is,” Porchon-Lynch tells Well and Good. “My life is my meditation.” Porchon-Lynch abides by three simple tips to stay upbeat. The first is to not get fixated on bad things that may or may not happen. “Your mind gets in the way. It plagues you with all of the things that can go wrong,” she says. “I don’t let it get in my way.” Secondly, she says to stop judging others. “Don’t look down on anyone,” she says. “Know that you can learn from everyone.” Finally, Porchon-Lynch says to begin each day feeling happy. “Wake up with a smile on your face!” Porchon-Lynch has been practicing yoga for over 70 years, and has been teaching it for 45. She encourages people of all ages to try yoga, and says it’s never too late to start. “Don’t give up and think, ‘I’ve done it. Now I can sit back,’ ” she [said]. “You haven’t seen enough of this earth and there is a lot more to see that is beautiful.”
Note: For more on this amazing woman, see this Newsweek article.
Gymnast Johanna Quaas, 86, displays a grace and agility that belies her years as she takes to the parallel bars in a pre-Olympics German gymnastics event. Quaas performed an impressive parallel bar and floor demonstration after finals concluded at Germany's Cottbus Challenger Cup. Displaying balance, strength and flexibility that would be the envy of someone a quarter her age, Quaas's floor routine included a handstand forward roll, cartwheel, backward roll and headstand while on the bars she performed a full planche, holding her body taught and parallel to the ground. A multiple time senior champion of artistic gymnastics in Germany, Quaas, from Halle in Saxony only took up gymnastics when she was 30, putting paid to the belief that the sport is the preserve of the young.
Note: Don't miss the amazing video of this highly inspiring woman at the link above. And this Washington Post article shows she's still going at age 91.
Harriette Thompson, the irrepressible nonagenarian who in 2015 became the oldest woman to finish a marathon, died Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was 94. A two-time cancer survivor, Thompson was a regular at the San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, running with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She started running the marathon in San Diego in 1999, and ran the race every year through 2015, except for 2003, when she was undergoing treatment for cancer. She raised more than $115,000 for cancer research through her efforts. In 2015, at 92 years and 93 days, she finished the marathon in 7:24:36, breaking the record for oldest woman to run a marathon previously held by Gladys Burrill, who at 92 years and 19 days ran 9:53 at the Honolulu Marathon in 2010. Thompson was slowed by many admirers who sought pictures with her during races. “Since I’m so old, everybody wants to have their picture taken with me,” Thompson told Runner’s World in 2015. “Brenny says, ‘Don’t stop her, just take a selfie,’ rather than stop and take pictures all the time, because I’d never get to the end. But it’s funny, all you need to do is get to be 90-something and you get lots of attention.” In June, at age 94, Thompson completed the half marathon at San Diego in 3:42:56, also a record for oldest woman to complete the 13.1-mile distance. “I never thought of myself as an athlete, but I feel like running is just something we all do naturally,” Thompson said.
The most impressive performance at a Toronto marathon Sunday was turned in by the man who came in last place - and is 100 years old. Fauja Singh completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in approximately eight hours, making him the oldest person ever to finish one of the 26.2-mile races. It was the eighth marathon for Singh, who was born India in 1911 and did not start running marathons until he was 89, after he moved to England following the death of his wife and son. He says not smoking or drinking alcohol throughout his life, combined with a vegetarian diet and up to 10 miles of walking or running per day are the secrets to his health. The Association of Road Racing Statistician already had Singh as the oldest person to complete a marathon, for one he ran seven years ago. But the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Dimitrion Yordanidis, 98, who ran in Athens in 1976. Singh recently set eight world records for his age group in one day at a special invitational meet in Toronto. He ran the 100 meters in 23.14, 200 meters in 52.23, the 400 meters in 2:13.48, the 800 meters in 5:32.18, the 1500 meters in 11:27.81, the mile in 11:53.45, the 3000 meters in 24:52.47 and the 5000 meters in 49:57.39. "I have said it before: that I will carry on running, as it is keeping me alive," Singh told the marathon website.
Note: Does anyone still believe vegetarianism can't be healthy?
Larry Lewis began his 105th year Wednesday with his usual morning regimen — a 6.7 mile run through [San Francisco's] Golden Gate Park. Then he ran an extra mile to the St. Francis Hotel, where he works as a waiter, for celebrating birthday No. 104. Lewis was followed by puffing newsmen, soma a quarter his age, as he trotted the last mile to show them "how to do it." Lewis, a waiter at the St. Francis for 24 years, was reared on the Navajo indian reservation. He said he joined the P.T. Barnum circus at 15, was an assistant to magician Harry Houdini for 33 years, and charged up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War — ahead of Theodore Roosevelt. Lewis, who doesn't have an ounce of fat in the 136 pounds he carries on his 5-foot-9 frame, still works up to 13 hours a day at the hotel. He is considered a medical miracle by this doctor – who pays Lewis to let him examine him. "He has more kinetic energy than most of us have ever known," the doctor said. "Larry did a lot of it himself," the physician said, "but he does not abuse his body by smoking, drinking, or keeping late and irregular hours. [He also] eats the right foods – foods low in low in fat, lots of fruit, and abstained from dessert." Lewis' wife of 19 years Bessie, 73, attended the party that featured what Lewis calls his "fountain of youth," an elixir of fresh mountain valley water. "I drink three gallons of it a day, he said." In addition to his daily runs through Golden Gate Park, Lewis said he also keeps fit with "a little boxing at the Olympic club and some hand ball."
Note: For more along these lines, explore the excellent resources provided in our Inspiration Center.
Many people worry that they’ll end up slowing down as they get older. But that doesn’t seem to be concern for 84-year-old Flo Meiler. In fact, this grandmother is just hitting her stride. Meiler, of Shelburne, Vermont, is a regular at the state’s senior games each year. There, she competes in all of the events, from the hurdles to the pole vaulting. Meiler was a late bloomer to track and field. A sales rep for 30 years, she hit the track for the first time at age 60. Five years later, she tried pole vaulting. Why? It simply seemed like fun, she believed. So she bought herself a “How to pole vault” video and essentially taught herself the skills she needed to compete. With roughly 750 medals under her belt so far for her age group and senior games victories, Meiler has no plans of stopping. She wants to continue going after records, many of which she already owns. One notable one is her six-foot pole vaulting clearance when she was 80, a world record. So if you’re ever feeling insecure about your ability to start something new or reach a goal, just think about Meiler: That 84-year-old is still pole vaulting in Vermont. What’s your excuse?
Note: Watch an inspiring 4-minute BBC video on this amazing woman.
Ninety-two times the Frenchman raced around the velodrome, a curved indoor bicyclist track, at an average speed of 14 mph. That speed would be impressive for just about anyone on two wheels, but it was probably particularly satisfying for Robert Marchand. Mostly because, when he was young, one of his coaches told him to give up the sport. It’s even more impressive when one considers Marchand is 105 years old. As the clock signaled that he’d been riding for one hour, the crowd of hundreds in Le Vélodrome National de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, near Paris, chanted his name, but it’s likely no one wondered whether he had captured a new world record. Of course he had — the category was created by the International Cycling Union specifically for him. And now it has been set: the record for longest official distance ridden in an hour in the newly minted older-than-105 class is 22.5 kilometers (14 miles). “I’m now waiting for a rival,” Marchand told the AP. Still, he said he could have gone faster, if he had not run into a little trouble on the track. “I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,” he told the Guardian. “Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Sister Madonna Buder stood on the shore of People’s Pond at Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park on Saturday morning. She made the sign of the cross and said a small prayer just before diving in head first. Her journey sent her through one mile of water, 24 miles on a bike and six miles on foot. But this was not new to her. The Ellensburg Olympic Triathlon was not her first race. Buder ... did not develop a passion for running until she was 48 years old. By then she was heavily involved in the Catholic church after becoming a nun at the age of 23. Since she started training, she has competed in many events including the 1982 Boston Marathon and her first triathlon in Banbridge, Ireland. In 2006 she was the oldest woman ever to complete the Hawaiian Ironman and in 2014 was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. Having raced more than 325 triathlons, people are still amazed at her accomplishments. “She is an extraordinary accomplished person in general fitness,” said fellow Olympic Triathlon participant Vince Nethery. “She finished and was able to take care of business.” Buder has not only seen victories but also had to climb over some obstacles during her career. Over her 39 years of competing she has fractured her pelvis, torn her meniscus and broke her femur. Buder just celebrated her birthday on Sunday, and although she completed one more triathlon, she still wonders how she is still completing triathlons. “I don’t know,” Buder said. “You’ll have to ask God.”
One of the world’s oldest female body builders, Ernestine Shepherd, just gained another year in what she’s called her “long happy journey” of life. Now 80, the fitness trainer, model, competitive body builder, and new author celebrated her June 16 birthday with a Facebook post declaring her continued determination, dedication, and discipline. “I am 80 years young today and I thank God for bringing me this far. I’m still determined, I’m still dedicated and I’m still disciplined to be fit!” Shepherd wrote. After being named the oldest female body builder by the Guinness Book of World Records in both 2010 and 2011, Shepherd began to publicly share the story of how she came to live a life of tenacity and perseverance beginning at the age of 56. What started as a modest curiosity about working out turned into a life-changing route to happiness once her sister died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. In an attempt to fulfill the fitness goals Shepherd had created with her late sister, she developed a following and a legacy admired by people of all ages. Shepherd celebrated her current success with the release of her book The “Ageless” Journey of Ernestine Shepherd in which she writes about the secrets to her health and well-being. The book ... details the keys to her motivation, including: “Age is nothing but a number.” In addition to her mantra, “Determined, dedicated, disciplined to be fit,” Shepherd believes that “being out of shape as we age truly is merely an option – NOT a mandate!”
Russian photojournalist [Vladimir Yakovlev] started his Age of Happiness project in 2011, documenting people around the world who defy our expectations of ageing. Yakovlev has just published a book based on his project. Called How I Would Like To Be When I Am 70?, it features 30 people who refuse to age appropriately, including a 75-year-old surfer, a 103-year-old marathon runner and a 79-year-old porn star. “It started as a very personal project,” says Yakovlev. “I was over fifty, I wanted to find out what can I expect in the future and most importantly to what extent I can affect whatever will be happening to me.” Duan Tzinfu changed the way he lived when he spotted a group of people exercising in a Beijing park. “These were people much older than him who did the splits with ease. Duan couldn't even bend over without a big sigh,” says Yakovlev, who photographed him in July 2011, at the age of 73. “After 50 years of working at a glass factory ... Duan could barely walk.” But Duan joined the group, practising stretching and breathing exercises ... and now, aged 76, can perform moves that would challenge much younger people. Yakovlev has travelled to nine countries for his project, including France, Italy and India. Yakovlev describes the attitude that seems to link many of his subjects. “Pat Moorehead, a skydiver, celebrated his 80th birthday by making 80 skydives in a row, non-stop. He says: ‘Happiness is just a choice, a life-style. I think that is true – about happiness ... and about staying young as well.”
Note: Don't miss the beautiful photos from this incredible project at the link above. These elders will astonish and inspire you.
Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, 80, reached the top of Mount Everest [on May 23], becoming the oldest man to scale the world's highest mountain. The climb marks the third time Miura has summited Everest, a successful feat in itself, but even more remarkable considering his age and his medical history. Discussing the hurdles of climbing at such an old age, the octogenarian said, it was to challenge his "ultimate limit." "It is to honor the great Mother Nature," he said on a statement posted on his website. "Hoping to raise even an inch of human possibility." Miura didn't attempt his first climb to the top of Everest until 2003, when he was 70 years old. He made that trek with his son, a former Olympian, and set a world record as the oldest climber to successfully scale the mountain. Five years later, he returned again -- at 75 years old -- to set another record. Yuichiro Miura has spent a lifetime defying the odds. In his younger years, he skied down Mount Everest's South Col, an adventure that was documented in the 1975 Academy Award winning documentary, "The Man Who Skied Down Everest." Not satisfied, Miura summited and skied down all seven summits of the world, by his 50s. Miura has already discussed his next venture -- skiing down the Himalayan mountain of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. He hopes to take on that challenge five years from now when he is 85 years old.
At 93, Dr Charles Eugster cuts a dapper figure in his navy suit and matching silk handkerchief and tie. But he looks just as good in the Lycra gym suit he has on underneath, ready to spring into action like a nonagenarian superhero. This former dentist took up bodybuilding just six years ago, aged 87, yet looks very at home surrounded by the whirring fitness machines. His reasons for picking up weights in his 80s are simple. "The idea is to turn the heads of the sexy young 70-year-old girls on the beach," he says. He now works out three to four times a week, often for two hours at a time, with his regime varying depending on his goals. Sometimes this involves a "heavy session of muscle building or rowing on the lake". And his vigorous training has clearly paid off. At a recent championship he achieved 57 dips, 61 chin-ups, 50 push-ups and 48 abdominal crunches, each in 45 seconds. Dr Eugster is no stranger to competitions. Since starting his bodybuilding training he has won several world titles for fitness and picked up many rowing medals. For 30 years while working long hours as a dentist he didn't manage to exercise regularly and began to realise his body wasn't what he wished it to be. "I'm extremely vain and I noticed I was getting fat," he said. "In my opinion anybody can do it. But obviously it is like trading in your old car for a new one. Ageing has become something for me, an enormous pleasure, a delight, a joy."
Note: For two amazing one-minute videos of a highly inspiring 86-year-old gymnast, click here.
The last weekend of June every year for 37 years has been given over to the running of the Western States 100 Mile Trail Run, the premier endurance running race in the world. It starts [in] Squaw Valley and ends ... in Auburn, California, 100 miles distant with a cumulative altitude gain of 15,000 feet and a 22,000 foot descent. The lead runners take about 16 hours to finish. In comparison running a marathon is trivial. Thirty seven years ago my wife Ruth Anne and I created prizes for the oldest male and female finishers as a celebration of the human potential. 3500 masochists apply, 350 gain a lottery start, 280 finish, the ultimate goal is to finish under 24 hours which is rewarded by a silver buckle, the second prize is finishing under 30 hours and a bronze buckle. Last year, 2015, was Ruth Anne’s last hurrah. Her Alzheimer’s disease was brutal, she scarcely knew what was going. She died three weeks later, but she was there to join in the ecstasy as Gunhild Swanson became the first woman over 70 years of age to win a buckle. This year the joint was jumping as 72-year-old Wally Hesseltine hoped to be the oldest ever finisher. He made the finish in thirty hours and one minute. I presented our awards to the oldest female and male as usual. But I gave an extra shout out to Bruce Labelle, 60 years of age who finished nobly just as he had 35 years before. Any youngster can do the 100 mile race and keep it up once or twice, but for a 60-year-old to keep it up for 35 years should be celebrated and emulated.
Note: Watch a 12-minute video of 72-year-old Wally Hesseltine's attempt to complete 100 miles in 30 hours. Wow!!!
Jeanne Daprano wants the world to know something: She's not leaving anything behind. No regrets, no fear. At 81 years old, she's still pushing her body to the limit. She's still running competitive races, breaking world records and taking on new challenges. "The thing I'm learning about aging is, it's inevitable," Daprano said. "I'm not going to escape it. There are two ways to go: You can either press on or give up. Do I want to go back to 50, 40? No. Because I think the best is yet to come." As an elementary school teacher, she began running in order to keep up with her students. "I was known as the running teacher," she said. It might have started there, but Daprano's life as a runner took off in ways she never could have predicted. She began running competitively with 5K and 10K road races before moving to the track. She is now the world record holder in the women's 70-year-old age group mile and the women's 75-year-old age group 400 meters and 800 meters. And she's not done. In February, Daprano took on a new challenge: her first indoor rowing competition. In classic fashion, she broke the world record in the 80-to-84 age group, rowing 2,000 meters in 9:23.7. For those hoping to either start getting in shape or stay in shape for a long time, she offers this advice: "Listen to your body. What are you passionate about? Don't look ahead or compare yourself to somebody else. I'm still doing it, and I probably have a greater passion now than ever, because I'm understanding who I am."
Note: Read more on this amazing woman and her routine.
Just two days after Norma’s husband of 67 years passed away, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Doctors gave her the options of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. She decided she would forgo any treatment, telling the doctors, “I’m 90 years old, I’m hitting the road.” Norma’s son, Tim, and daughter-in-law, Ramie, are full-time RVers. Since Norma couldn’t live at home alone without her husband, they invited her to join them on the road. Six months later, the three of them, along with their poodle Ringo, are enjoying the trip of a lifetime. Ramie, who spoke for the family, said that Norma is a set of fresh eyes on this indefinite road trip. “She’s very quiet and humble, and then she has this streak of adventure that surprises us.” Adventure is right. After leaving Northern Michigan in August, their first big stop was Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. From there, they traveled to Yellowstone National Park and then onto the Rocky Mountains. All the while, they've been documenting their adventure on the Driving Miss Norma Facebook page. Norma’s favorite activity was riding in a hot air balloon in Florida, a Christmas gift from Tim and Ramie. Ramie told ABC News that Norma is feeling better than ever. “She continues to surprise us on this trip," she said. "She’s getting healthier, I think, from eating well and being outside a lot. She’s breathing fresh air and getting to see new things all the time. The trio hopes that Norma’s story will help other families to start conversations about end-of-life plans.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A 101-year-old California heart surgeon who retired just five years ago may be the epitome of “you are what you eat.” Dr. Ellsworth Wareham credits his vegan lifestyle with being his fountain of youth. He says it’s why he is still sharp-minded, enjoys good balance and drives. “I don’t have any trouble with my joints, my hands are steady, my balance is good, I don’t have to walk with a cane,” he [said]. Wareham lives in Loma Linda, California, which is one of five so-called Blue Zones, so named by longevity researcher Dan Buettner because people tend to live longer, healthier lives within them. Residents of Loma Linda, many of whom like Wareham are Seventh Day Adventists, have a life expectancy that’s nine to 11 years greater than that of other Americans. Seventh Day Adventists avoid smoking and alcohol, include exercise in their lifestyle and follow a vegetarian diet. The city of Loma Linda ... has several community programs in place that support its older residents. Loma Linda men in particular live six to seven years longer than the average American man. As for Dr. Wareham, he said he has “never cared for animal products,” so maintaining a vegan lifestyle was “a very easy thing” for him to do. But while what you eat certainly impacts your health, even Buettner has noted that the Blue Zones have other longevity-increasing factors.
We all know that physical activity is beneficial in countless ways, but even so, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was startled to discover that exercise kept a strain of mice from becoming gray prematurely. In heartening new research published last week ... exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace. The mice that Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used lacked the primary mitochondrial repair mechanism, so they developed malfunctioning mitochondria early in their lives, as early as 3 months of age, the human equivalent of age 20. By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. All were dead before reaching a year of age. Except the mice that exercised. At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. At 1 year, none of the exercising mice had died. The researchers were surprised by the magnitude of the impact that exercise had on the animals’ aging process. They had not expected that it would affect every tissue and bodily system studied. Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said.
Note: For a treasure trove of other inspiring articles published in the major media, click here.
Anthony Mancinelli shook out a barber towel and welcomed the next customer to his chair in Fantastic Cuts, a cheery hair salon in a nondescript strip mall. “Hey, paisan - same as usual,” said John O’Rourke to Mr. Mancinelli, who began layering Mr. O’Rourke’s hair with his steady, snipping scissors. “I don’t let anyone else touch my hair,” said Mr. O’Rourke. “The guy’s been cutting hair for a century.” Mr. Mancinelli is 107 and still working full time, cutting hair five days a week from noon to 8 p.m. He has been working in barbershops since he was 11. In 2007, at a mere 96 years old, he was recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest working barber. Since then, the commendations have rolled in - from local civic groups, elected officials and barbering companies - all congratulating him: 100 years, 101, 102, and so on. Mr. Mancinelli just keeps outdating the awards. As hairstyles have changed over the decades, Mr. Mancinelli has adapted. “I cut them all,” he said, “long hair, short hair, whatever was in style - the shag, the Buster Brown, straight bangs, permanents.” Some customers have been coming to him for well over 50 years, having gotten hundreds of haircuts. “I have some customers, I cut their father, grandfather and great-grandfather - four generations,” said Mr. Mancinelli, who has six great-great-grandchildren. His son, Bob Mancinelli, said: “Some of his older customers, he helps them. He’ll say to an 80-year-old guy, ‘Listen, when you get to be my age. ...’ They love hearing that.”
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