Tuesday, June 21, 2011

100-year-old Dorothy Custer on the Leno show. Secrets for long life

A 4-H Club leader from my youth, Dorothy Custer, was on the Jay Leno Show this week sharing her secrets for long-life, handing out advice and playing her harmonica for the audience. She seemed just as I remember her from 50 years ago...energetic, talkative and clever.
Click here to view a clip of her Leno appearance.
Just 5-feet tall, Dorothy was always a fire ball. A great seamstress, she could put together anything from a wedding dress to formal dance gown. She loved to talk and still does.
Dorothy lived with her husband, Marvin, on a farm outside Twin Falls, Idaho where I grew up and near the farm where my 96-year-old mother, Helen, still lives. In fact it was my mother who called me to tell me that her old neighbor and friend, Dorothy, was going to be on the Leno show.
I mention Dorothy (and my mother) for the fact that reaching age 100 is no longer the really huge deal that it once was, especially for women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 44,202 American women were 100 years old or older in 2010, as well as 9,162 men. The total represents a 5.8 percent increase from 2000 when the last census was taken.
As we baby boomers age, the percentage of Americans 65 and older will increase from 12.9 percent (40.3 million) to 19 percent of the population in 2030.
Americans 85 and older will increase from 2.3 percent of the current population to 4.3 percent by 2030. By 2050 there will be an estimated 5.5 million women age 90 or older. I plan to be among them. I also expect to be single and on my own. Or maybe not. The Census Bureau estimates that men will continue to play a bit of catch-up to women in the life-expectancy department. By 2050, the bureau estimates there will be 57 men for every 100 women 90 and older. That's up from 39 men for every 100 women in that current age group.
What are Dorothy's secrets to long life? "Keep a positive attitude," she said with a big smile,"Exercise every day (for her that's 150 to 200 arm thrusts on an exercise machine) and some balance exercises."
Dorothy was just voted "Pioneer of the Year" in Twin Falls for its annual Western Days. I think she won because of her harmonica-playing. Last night she got through "Turkey in the Straw" for Jay in fine shape. Congratulations to Dorothy. She was a great 4-H club leader, too.

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