On Tuesday, April 3, Dr. Ellen Ryan joined us to talked about longevity and factors that contribute to a longer life…and a shorter life. Ellen stated that a maximum lifespan can be up to 120yrs. 

Aging well depends on community wellbeing. Naomi Wingfield lived in Westdale and died at the age of 101. Naomi was Ellen’s mentor. Naomi described Youth as “a flying horse” she said getting old relates to “walking on sand” we slow down and feel every step feeling the sea Shells beneath of feet. 

Dr. Ryan says some key elements to resilient aging include: Engage with life, minimize risk and disability, maximize physical and mental capacity. Volunteering is great for successful aging. 

Connectedness and interdependence – Dr. Ryan says there is a lot of loneliness in our society. As we age we all wonder how our spouses and families will take care of us. Isolation leads to loneliness and loneliness kills. There are illnesses associated with loneliness. A solution to promote healthy aging in our community can include mutual support networks, and innovative housing alternatives. Dr. Ryan points to the village model…there are 200 plus in north America. These communities are self-directed by seniors, include a small membership fees, and include member volunteers. Also, home sharing has been done naturally in the past within families. Now seniors can share their homes (ie: McMaster has a program matching graduate students with community seniors). Other programs are available that match seniors who are looking to share accommodations. 

Lessons learned from the supercentarians… Jerry Friedman (author of wisdom of the worlds oldest people) - sidestepping adversity, optimism, resilience, strong family ties, hard working, faith and humor are keys to a long life.