100 year old Helen Monteyne (USA) enjoying the celebrations.
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There is continuous debate around areas of society worldwide on the topics of growing old, our longevity and all-round health and wellbeing in the world we live in today and also the secrets to ageing gracefully and most importantly – being happy!
With experience most of us would expect to learn a great deal and to convey these very human insights, memories and stories for others to learn from and also appreciate. This is exactly what took place on a microcosmic level in Florida, USA recently.
Helen Thomson (108) in Florida, USA recalls countless amounts of life stories from her time on Earth… she even remembers a world before planes and cars were common modes of transportation. Her family got their first car when she was between 18 and 20 years old. Earlier this month, she thought she was attending just a regular party but was surprised to look around and see so many people from her age bracket in one place.
At 108 years old, Thomson of Oak Manor in Largo still was the oldest person in the room, but she was one of 39 other centenarians – people age 100 or older – gathering at the Suncoast Hospice centenarian birthday party in Clearwater, Florida, USA this month.
The party may have also set a new world’s first – a previous official world record is listed as 31 centenarians all in one place at the same time. Additionally, there were 23 people in their late 90s among the approximate 250 people in attendance.
“It’s the whole celebration of life, which is what our organization is about,” said Rafael Sciullo, president and CEO of Suncoast Hospice.
“We have a long-standing history of including people from the community and really celebrating what people have added to the community and also their lives as well. Everyone individually has a wonderful story and it is a wonderful opportunity to share some of those stories and to celebrate.”
On the day all the centenarians gathered, a host read out a short biography for each of the individuals present and a fun day was had by all of the over 100 year olds… filled with nostalgia, talk of great memories and lots of laughter.
One of the centenarians on the day commented about her personal advice around ageing and life in general:
“I think I’ve learned that your family means an awful lot to you and are even more precious than you realize as you’re growing up!”
Royce Ladd of Lake Seminole Square in Seminole was one of the few male centenarians. At 105, he still is quite lively and gregarious.
“I don’t feel like a minority anymore,” Ladd said with a laugh, as he looked around at all the other people his age in the room.
Ladd said a key to living a long time is to not smoke or drink and to keep healthy as best one can.
“Also, look on the bright side,” Ladd said. “There usually always is one!”
Some other centenarians also shared their secrets of longevity, citing such extra things as eating right, dancing, doing things we’re told not to do and never getting married.
A large, colorful birthday cake was the event’s grand finale and a brass band also played influencing the beautifully poetic ambience of the occasion and soundtracking the days sentiments.
We commend the Suncoast Hospice in Florida for retaining the ethos of celebration when it comes to life and in particularly ensuring the latter stages of the individuals they have contact with and their friends and families is spent as positively as can be… and quite importantly for also ensuring fun remains at the heart of their activity in the community. Something we in Guavo land would add to the list as another secret for maintaining longevity in both age and spirit… and another key aspect of this gathering that inspired and touched us a great deal.
We’d extend an overall message to everyone everywhere to offer more support to their local hospices and community groups around the world whose work is often under resourced yet a vital part of every community and for the individuals who rely on them.
The centenarian gatherings have become an annual event with the Suncoast Hospice team in USA and here is a lovely bit of video highlights from one of their previous celebrations in 2012:
To find out more about the work of Sun Coast Hospice in Florida visit:
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