Older Americans Share The Secret To A Long, Happy Life

Ocean County seniors ages 95 to 102 came out to Community Medical Center for a celebratory lunch in their honor. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

TOMS RIVER – Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live to see 101 years? Well, you can ask Dominica Manto, one of Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey’s (CVCJ) care receivers who plans to celebrate her 101st birthday on June 1, 2018.

When asked what her plans were for the big day she said “I already celebrated last year,” when she reached the incredible milestone of turning 100 years old. So, it seems 101 is no big deal to Dominica.

However, CVCJ, RWJBarnabas Health, and Community Medical Center think otherwise. To the hosts of the luncheon for Older Americans Month, the large senior citizen population of Ocean County is important and deserves to be celebrated.

The luncheon, held at Community Medical Center on May 14, had nearly 40 Ocean County residents ages 95 to 102 in attendance to celebrate their lives and support Community Medical Center’s commitment to keeping people healthy and active through every stage of life.

Ocean County seniors ages 95 to 102 came out to Community Medical Center for a celebratory lunch in their honor. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

“It was reported that people over the age of 95 represent only .1 percent of the population,” said Jean Flaherty of Community Medical Center. “You’re a member of a very exclusive club and we’re really happy that you came today,” she said to the attendees.

“Older Americans Month is a fairly new month of recognition established by a presidential proclamation in 2015, to celebrate the accomplishments and sacrifices of our elders,” said Michael Mimoso, President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Medical Center. “Among our special guests, there are more than 2,000 years of life experiences in this room; you’ve been a part of historic moments and seen the world change and accomplished incredible things.”

Mimoso also emphasized that it is Community Medical Center’s mission to keep seniors healthy and out of the hospital.

Lynette Whiteman, MS, Executive Director of Caregivers said, “All of us at (Caregivers) consider it such an honor to be a part of your life…you have inspired us and shared with your volunteers your wisdom and your advice.”

Caregivers is “an interfaith nonprofit agency dedicated to providing free supportive services to the frail elderly and the homebound, enabling them to live independently and with dignity in their own homes,” according to their website.

Whiteman remarked that some research led her to discover that three particular factors contribute to a long life: good nutrition, exercise, and staying connected to others. She said that she finds this to be true in many of Caregivers’ senior members.

Michael Mimoso, President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Medical Center said a few words in honor of the afternoon’s guests. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

So, what is the secret to a long life?

For Dominica, it is keeping active and busy, according to her Caregivers volunteer Joann. Dominica said she loves to bake, cook, and clean. Joann takes her to her doctor’s appointments, to the store, and even accompanies her to family events.

Dominica is native to New Jersey, born in Elizabeth. Her parents came over to the States from Italy. Dominica said that she also speaks Italian. “I had to, my parents didn’t speak English.”

For Art Edler, the secret is keeping himself surrounded with people. Art used to be a volunteer for Caregivers, where he volunteered to drive care receivers where they needed to go. He is now a Caregivers care receiver. “I run the whole gamut,” he joked.

Art is a lively 95-year old who is active in church and is also a member of an “OB” group, short for “Old Bachelor’s.” Art loves people and is a friend to everybody, which has been a contributing factor to his wonderfully long life thus far, according to his volunteer.

Also continuing to stay active is 96-year old Anita Maynard, who has been volunteering at Community Medical Center since 1988. She has provided over 7,300 hours of service and still drives herself to and from the hospital.

Jean Flaherty of Community Medical Center was the emcee at the event. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

Anita still volunteers every once and a while at the hospital gift shop, noting that it keeps her busy and she meets some interesting people there. She also swims every day, doing exercise water aerobics that helps to keep her young. “I don’t feel pain,” she said.

Anita is from Poland with a slight Polish accent, and still feels very strongly about her heritage after all these years. She noted that she comes from the eastern part of Poland that is now considered the Ukraine but still thinks of it as home. Anita lived through World War II before she came over to the states nearly 70 years ago.

The room was full of not just senior citizens but also deep and varied histories. According to Community Medical Center, our senior citizen population in Ocean County is the largest in the state of NJ.

“We hope to see all of you back next year,” said Flaherty to attendees.