Life Lessons

Breaking senior stereotypes

These seniors want to make sure they enjoy as much life as they can

Life Lessons: Breaking senior stereotypes

We can't live forever, but these athletes want to make sure they enjoy as much life as they can while they're still here.

Weightlifting is grueling, but 94-year-old powerlifter Edith Traina wouldn't have it any other way.

"The stereotype is, 'Oh well 90, she can't do this or he can't do that.' Well, yes you can," Traina said.

Traina is pushing to get other 90-somethings sweating. If you have any doubts, just try and keep up with what these women have to say.

"I still drive," 90-year-old Evalia Cunningham said. "Everybody says, 'You still drive?' Sure I drive."

And of course we had to ask - what's the secret?
"Rum and coke," said 93-year-old Cleotha Beckles.

That's right. Beckles' secret: rum and coke. Cunningham's answer is a tad more standard.

"I go to the senior center every day," Cunningham said. "We play cards and talk to people."

Clara Allen, 95, said, "I was raised on organic food, so maybe that has something to do with it."

"I eat what I enjoy," Traina said. "I know what my body can handle."

Walking to the mailbox, pushing the grocery cart, Tai Chi and tone and stretch classes all keep these women moving.

"When I wake up in the morning, I have to have something to look forward to do besides housework," Traina said. "Nobody wants housework."

"They all come from different backgrounds, but they are driven folks who want to stay active," said Tina Marnotes, recreation program supervisor at Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation in Tampa, Florida.

"If you're 70, you'll get to be 80. If you're 80, you'll get to be 90. And I'm looking toward my centennial at this point," Traina said. "I still have six years to go but I expect to make it."

And so do Allen, Cunningham and Beckles. They make each day count instead of just counting the days.

These women live by themselves, drive, participate in events at their senior center almost every day and compete in their hometown's "Senior Games" every year. They didn't mention vitamins, super foods or non-genetically modified organisms and some of them were smokers for years before they quit.


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