Friday, 22 February 2013

104 years young

After visiting Briana & Ted in Toronto, I continued my winter vacation in Winnipeg.  February is a time for annual celebration in Derek's family as his Grandfather Jaring has his birthday on February 11. Jaring turned 104 this year.

Happy Birthday Jaring!
Derek & Jaring
To say that Jaring is a remarkable man would be a huge understatement.  The first time I met Jaring he was 98 and I thought for sure someone had made a mistake - he was fitter, stronger, and sharper than most 80 year olds I've met!  He was working on a Saturday edition of the New York Times Crossword puzzle!  In my line of work, I see a full spectrum of people of all shapes, sizes and ages, and I'm telling you - Jaring is truly amazing!  How many 104 year old swimming champions do you know?  Jaring holds multiple master's swimming world records, even though he didn't start swimming competitively until he was 78!

 In the master's, you compete against historical records, and when he turned 100, he was eligible to swim for the 100-104 records.  In 2009 we went out to Winnipeg to cheer him on.

Pre-race visualization.  Look at that focus!
I felt very lucky to be a part of the birthday celebration & the swim competition.  Much of Derek's family lives in Winnipeg & it was fantastic to meet them all & to see how much everyone draws strength & inspiration from Jaring.

On the starting block at Pan-Am Pool.  

Swimming for the record

That weekend he swam to world record times in 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke.  3 world records in 1 day!

Other than Jaring, I have met a small number of centenarians through work.  Whenever we have a patient in their late 90s or over 100 come in to the office or hospital, nurses and doctors alike say the same things: "Can you believe this woman is 104 and she is so with it?", "Can you believe that this 98 year old man lives independently?", "I can't believe this patient is 100 years old and takes no medications!!!"  I don't believe that these are coincidences at all - whether its genes, healthy lifestyle or a combination - you don't get to your 90s & 100s unless you are healthy, both mentally & physically.

Jaring has developed an acronym to share the secret of his longevity: GEDS.   GEDS stands for Genes, Exercise, Diet and Spirit.  Well, we can't do much about the genetic lot we are given, but having a healthy lifestyle with good exercise, balanced diet and positive spirit is something that we all can and should do.  At work I am often sitting across from patients who are looking for prescriptions as easy solutions to their problems, when what they really need is a change in lifestyle.  It sounds simple, but when we look after our minds and our bodies with healthy choices, we reduce our risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, depression, anxiety and we live longer, happier lives.  It sounds simple, because at the root of it, it is simple!!  We may not live to see 104, but every small choice we make about the way we treat our body has enormous impact on our health and longevity.

It doesn't mean you can't have a giant piece of delicious ice cream cake on your birthday....

Mmmm.... birthday cake!

Jaring at his 100th Birthday, sharing the secret of GEDS with us

I am inspired by Jaring and think most people who meet him feel the same way.  I wish I could bottle up some of the joie de vivre that he inspires and use it to motivate positive change in some of my patients.  For now, I will just hope that sharing his story & trying to keep healthy myself will help!

Happy 104th Birthday, Jaring, and we can't wait to see you back in the pool going for the 105+ records!

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