March 31, 2008

USA: Longevity - Life After 100

Centenarians Keep Youthful and Enjoy the Years Ahead


ABC News
March 31, 2008

Centenarians are living history. They were born when Teddy Roosevelt was president, air conditioning and telephones were luxuries, and the movies cost just five cents without sound. In 1908, Henry Ford started the first assembly line for his Model T, but most people still got around by horse and buggy.

On "Live to Be 150 ... Can You Do It?" with Barbara Walters, five centenarians share the secrets of their remarkable longevity. This dynamic group is living proof that there are many misconceptions about life at 100. Their attitudes and wisdom just might calm your fears about getting old.

Elsa Hoffman, 100, lives in south Florida where she still runs her business of remodeling apartments, and where she continues to have an active social life.

"For some people, the golden years aren't as good as they should be," says Hoffman, "but mine are like sparkling diamonds."

Age certainly doesn't slow her down. For her first three-digit birthday, she bought a brand new purple Lincoln sports car. "When people look at my driver's license they say, 'It can't be.' "

Rosie Ross also keeps socially active as a lifelong musician, who still supports himself with his trumpet. At 102 years old, he is an institution at The Pine Cone Inn outside of Phoenix, Ariz., where he's been playing most Friday nights for the last 50 years.

"As long as you want to hear Clyde McCoy's 'Sugar Blues,' I'll live to play it for you," replies Ross when asked how he lives to be so old. For his first trip to New York for the interview, he bought a brand new $2,000 trumpet and a hip, black leather jacket to match.

Dorothy Young of Ocean Grove, N.J., is also no stranger to the stage. At 18, she landed a job as an assistant to legendary illusionist Harry Houdini for years. Houdini may have passed away decades ago, but she still keeps her promise not to reveal any of his secrets.

At 100, Young also shows that fun and romance is still possible when you reach triple digits. She and Stan Mader, her 94-year-old boyfriend, have been together for 10 years. They see each other two to three times a week for breakfast and dinner — jokingly, they claim that all that happens in the hours between is a friendly game of bridge.

Relationships like Young and Mader's are important because life can be very lonely for seniors — making it past 100 takes real courage. Most centenarians have outlived lifelong friends, almost always husbands and wives, and often their children.

Lillian Cox, 101, spent her entire life in Tallahassee, Fla. Until recently, she took care of her 80-year-old daughter who was recovering from cancer. Often, it's the other way around, where children take care of the parents.

That commitment to family is a big reason these centenarians are still living. The group interviewed for the show has a total of 9 children, 16 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren, and they all continue to lead active, purposeful lives.

Sadly, just two weeks ago, Cox's daughter, Carolyn, passed away.

She lives alone but continues to be quite active. She jokes that when she bought her house, she was in the country, and now with all the development that has happened over the decades, she is in the middle of downtown. For 28 years, she ran a successful dress shop before retiring to see the world.

"I have traveled to Europe six or seven times. And Hawaii several times. You name it, [and] I have been there. I didn't dream I would live to be 80, much less 100 years old, so I just spent my money and had a good time."

Cox prides herself on not having a maid and caring for her four bedroom house on her own — she even does her own gardening.

"Bending down is OK, getting up is a problem," Cox jokingly admits. Redefining society's perception of centenarians is a mission for Lynn Peters Adler, the founder of the National Centenarian Awareness project which she runs from her home in Phoenix, Ariz.

Adler, author of "Centenarians: The Bonus Years," accompanied the centenarians on their trip to New York for Walters' special. In her 22 years of experience, Adler had developed what she calls "the centenarian spirit," which are the characteristics that she has found in people who live to be 100 and older.

These qualities include a love of life, a strong spiritual belief, and the ability to be adaptable. When asked what advice they would give about living a long and happy life, several offered comments.

Lynn Adler celebrates the birthdays of good friends Lenore Schaeffer, 102, on the left, and Merle McEathron, 103, on the right, in 1999. Lenore and Merle were presented proclamations from the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona
(Lynn Peters Adler/ National Centenarian Awareness Project)

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you treat others the way you would like to be treated ... it has a lot to do with living," advises Hoffman. "Because happiness and good health, I think, almost go hand in hand."

"If I'm having a bad day, I'll call a centenarian friend and they will just put it in perspective," says Adler. "All my best friends are 100 and over. They're wonderful ... I think that younger people think there's an age limit on fun. And that's just not true."

The group of centenarians is not indicative of centenarians everywhere, yet, as Adler points out, they can serve as role models to people at any age.

"Centenarians have the most marvelous spirit and it's something that we can all learn from, because centenarians show us that they've raised the bar for all of us who follow."

All of the centenarians interviewed by Walters were proud of their age, claiming they were all at a very good point in their lives. Perhaps Ross summed up the group's feelings best when he proudly stated, "Life begins at 80 and gets better when you reach 90. And when you reach 100, oh boy!"

For more information about living to 100 and beyond, visit the National Centenarian Awareness Project.

Aging Gracefully: At the Peak of Beauty and Fame

Actor Paul Newman and Model Carmen Dell'Orefice Share Their Secrets for Living Longer With Barbara Walters


In the modeling business where 30 is considered old, you'd think there would be no place for someone old enough to collect Social Security.

Seventy year old Carmen dell'Orefice models an example of Red Carpet evening dresses from the Hardy Amies collection celebrating the design house's 60th anniversary hosted by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
(EMPICS /Landov)

But Carmen Dell'Orefice, 76, has been working steadily for the last six decades.

Although she shot her first Vogue cover at age 16, in 1947, Dell'Orefice hasn't let age slow her down.

She's not shy about admitting her age or about revealing her secrets to looking and feeling young.

"I think it all starts with thought and attitude," said Dell'Orefice, who is known as Carmen in the world of modeling.

Her attitude helped make her a supermodel, before the term was even coined. A staple in top fashion magazines for half a century, her looks have only gotten better with age and with her now trademark silver hair.

Several years ago she wrote a book and divulged that sex was a key element in maintaining her youth and it seems that nothing has changed.

"It's part of it, life has to be a balance, and I've figured out the balance for myself. Sex always," she said with a laugh.

Another major component in Dell'Orefice's life is exercise.

"I exercise every day. I don't get up and have a cup of coffee anymore, I get up and move to get blood to my brain," Dell'Orefice said. She says that it's the energy that keeps her going.

"Training like an athlete, get enough sleep, not too much booze [and] I never smoke."

And another secret that keeps her looking and feeling young? She uses lard as face cream to keep the moisture in at night.

It's been written before that Dell'Orefice's regimen sounded like the routine of keeping a classic limousine in running order and she agrees with that.

"It's like, if you have a Rolls Royce you have to keep, you know [you're] looking after the parts," she said with a laugh.

Racing Through the Years

At 82, Paul Newman prefers a race car to a Rolls Royce. He spends a lot of his weekends zooming around Limerock Racetrack in Lakeville, Conn.

"There's something exhilarating about it," he said. "I don't plan to be winning a lot of races, but it's fun to just get in the car, and it's very relaxing actually."

Newman's remarkable acting career spans more than five decades, but his last major movie role was in 2002's "The Road to Perdition." Even though he was nominated for an Academy Award at the age of 77, you may not be seeing much more of him on the silver screen.

Barbara Walters shares a moment with actor Paul Newman before buckling into his race car.
(Donna Svennevik/ABC)

"I simply cannot remember lines, and maybe it's become psychological, or whatever," Newman told Barbara Walters. "Doesn't make any difference. Because once your confidence goes, you're working at maybe 50 percent of your potential."

With acting now behind him, what keeps Paul Newman going? Maybe it's his 50-year marriage to Joanne Woodward that's still going strong, or maybe it's one of his other interests.

He created Newman's Own food products 26 years ago, just so he could donate the money to charity and the business is still expanding with new products and an organic line. He has given all the proceeds from the sale of his salad dressing, popcorn and spaghetti sauce to charity.

To date, he's given away more than $240 million. And his Hole in the Wall camps give recreational and therapeutic camping experiences to children facing life-threatening diseases. There are now 15 camps around the world. But what really keeps Newman young is his passion for racing. And, he says, he has no plans to leave the track anytime soon.

Newman's not concerned about getting older and he gives all the credit to the longevity to his genes.

"My mother on her deathbed said, 'Paul, you have to excuse me, I've been lying all these years, I'm not 83, I'm 87.' And when we took her back to Cleveland, to be buried next to my father, her sister was there."

"And I said, 'you know, mother said that she had been lying all these years, and that she wasn't 83, that she was 87.' And her sister said, 'Baloney, she was 93,' " Newman said.

Apparently, Newman still has a long way to go.

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