Recently I visited with a lady from my home town in Michigan who was one of the most beloved teachers at my elementary school. To my surprise she had moved into a long term care home about a year ago. When I arrived at the home she was on the move with her rolling walker and she was dressed as if she were on her way out for a special date. She told me that she was “106!” No one would ever guess her age if you were to meet her. Her spark was contagious, as she talked and laughed with us. It was obvious that everyone at the home enjoyed being with her. We never did sit down to talk because she had places to go and things to do!

I did a little research about this amazing woman and I found an article written by a local newspaper in 2008 when she was 99. The headlines read “Sturgis Woman 99, Golfs Three Times a Week.” They quoted her as saying “I don’t get my clubs out of the car for nine holes. That’s only half a game!” She attributes her long life to exercise and a loving family, and she has no intention of giving up golf, “until I can’t!”

It is hard not to focus on how people age when I work in the senior industry. I am surrounded by people who have aged prematurely due to health concerns and yet others who are still very healthy like Julia Finlay at age 106. It is clear that some people may have the genetic make up to have longevity. Others are predisposed to age more quickly. I am convinced that people have a choice at a younger age to decide if their glass if half empty or half full.

If we focus on all of the things that we have lost or can no longer do, we will age more quickly. The documentary “Alive Inside” clearly shows that people who grow more inward when they do not have stimulation, become the “living dead.”

We all have gifts to give at every age, it is when we no longer share our gift’s with other’s that we no longer have a sense of purpose. Having a sense of purpose in life is the key to growing old. There are leaders of large corporations who stay involved because they do not want to retire and become idle. They enjoy their work and they understand that they must have a sense of purpose every day.

Julia is my role model for aging gracefully and I hope that I can continue to count my blessings and try to always remember that my glass is half full!