I have a dear friend, Irma, who celebrated her 101 birthday this summer. Irma lives in her own home in a retirement community, does not use a walker or a hearing aid and drives over to her friends’ homes and library on her golf cart. Her mind is so sharp that UC Irvine gerontology has been studying her. One of seven children born to a family in the Midwest, only she and a younger sister survive. A frail child, Irma grew up on a farm in Kansas. Farm chores, she says, made her strong.
After college a friend suggested she come on out to California. Interested in business, Irma enrolled in UCLA and received an MBA. She taught business courses till her ’60′s and then became a stockbroker. While teaching business, she took sabiticals and traveled round the world. When she retired, she moved to Laguna Woods Village in Orange County. One of the first residents, she raised funds for the hospital and the library and was the director of the library some 20 years. An ardent hiker, gardener and birder, she also founded the local chapter of the Audubon chapter.
When asked what she attributes her remarkable health to, she replies: “a sensible diet and a positive attitude.” I would add one other factor: her curiosity about people, places and current events. It’s her curiosity that engages her in life and makes her so vibrant.
My recommendation to parents is to stimulate your child’s innate curiosity. Yes, there are wonderful nature shows on tv but take your child to the natural history museums and other places of interest in your city. Teach them to love nature. Explore the outdoors and vacation at one of our great national parks. Yosemite is a favorite of mine. Life is an adventure. Instill this in your child from a early age. Develop interests and share these with your child. Teach them to live life with passion as my friend Irma has.