Most folks would hardly guess that there are over 70,000 people age100 years and older in the United States, a number expected to hit over 800,000 in the next four decades, according to Census Bureau estimates last year.
Is it a state of mind, is it genetic, is it diet, or all three?
At 92 years old, Mary “Mother Harvin” is on her way; she doesn't worry about anything, least of all where or how to get wherever she’s going. All she needs to know is, where’s her coat?
The double amputee is a frequent flying globetrotter from Virginia to Banning, sometimes doing it all by herself. Ever since her operation, over the past few years she’s been to France to visit her daughter, made rounds to England, Germany, and had time and the energy to hit a cruise with the family.
Everyone, except her, wonders just how she does it.
She attributes her longevity to a lifelong regimen, something she does each night before bed and every morning when she wakes up.
“I thank God for trusting me all day that I did things right, if I didn't do things right, let me know,” she said. “Bless me to do the right thing, don't let me do anything wrong to no one. I love everybody if they like me or not.”
When she gets ready to fly, she said mostly it’s fun because she boards before anyone else, and the airline waits on her with whatever she wants.
“I sit down and enjoy myself and look at the movie or look out the window,” she said. “Why should I complain?”
Martha High, a name given her by James Brown when she was his backup singer, said her mother had always been active throughout her life, ready to roll at a moment’s notice and she wondered if there might be a negative fallout from the surgery. But, that never happened. Martha describes her mother as having more energy than people half her age, even despite her amputation.
“I was expecting her to be really sad, but mother was still her normal self,” she said.
Over at the 5th Street Senior Center in San Bernardino, Aaliyah Harkley said that kind of attitude is a time-tested recipe that works.
Ms. Harkley, Human Services Program Manager for the city’s Senior Services, has watched seniors for several years, and sees just how resilient they can be if they just give themselves a chance to get up and go.
Her center offers several free and low-cost tours or getaways that many seniors, especially for African Americans, who are not strong participants. The change of scenery would do them good. Socialization, exercise and fresh air all play a big role in staying healthy.
Last year, the center served 65,000 nutritious meals, with a nurse on site one day a month to monitor members. With severe budget cuts over the years, Harkley admits that times are tight, but she is actively seeking donations and grants.
“There’s more I would like to do, our city has a lot of need. My approach is to deal with it holistically. A family is more than just seniors, I like programs that include the whole family,” she said.
Lately, she's been looking to get exercise equipment into the center's quad area. Weekly, she holds several exercise classes, including yoga, Tai Chi classes, and dances.
Soon, with some money she has stashed away for repairs, she is looking to repair the billiards, and buy a new 60-inch flat screen with a Wii exercise program. She’s excited and said the seniors love the newer technology, like X-Box.
“I know that people live longer when they don’t pay attention to all 'Oh you’re very sick and you’re not going to live long’ -- and all that mess,” Harkley said.
Her son is far from being elderly, but she thinks that everyone can take a lesson from his experience. Now 32, he was told by doctors that he was going to die at 12 years old.
“He looked at cancer as being something to overcome. If you believe that whatever you’re going through you can overcome, you can live longer,” she said.
For more information on Westside senior programs, call (909) 384-5430.
Written by: Precinct Reporter Group
Friday, 28 October 2011 06:54