The conversations of life

Could you live to be 111?


It’s the age at which our oldest person, Mary Whitehurst, just passed away at in her Riddell Gardens Aged Care nursing home in Melbourne’s Sunbury.

Mary Whitehurst on her 111th birthday. Image credit: Herald Sun

Ms Whitehurst, a keen pianist and singer who still enjoyed a game of bingo, hit the historic milestone in October last year.

So what’s your chance of hitting the triple figures – or higher?

There are around 4,400 centenarians and super-centenarians (people over 110) in Australia. It doesn’t sound like much, but in the last 20 years, that number has jumped over 250 per cent according to the ABS.

Population growth during the same time was just 30 per cent.

More people living longer – and better

It fits with my own experience. When I started working in aged care 13 years ago, it was rare to meet someone who had reached a century – or older.

Today, it’s much more common – and while these centenarians may not be as physically sound as the rest of us, they are often more ‘on the ball’ than younger residents. They also seem to have a real passion for life – and living well.

Last week, we highlighted a study that showed centenarians are often in better mental – and sometimes physical – health than people 30 years younger.

It tees up with what Ms Whitehurst told the Herald Sun about the secret to her long life – having a “positive view on life”.

A good reason to put a smile on your face?

A practising aged care physiotherapist for the past 13 years, Jill has worked in more than 50 metropolitan and regional aged care homes. She has also toured care facilities across the US and Africa. She is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff that serve them.

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