100 years old is the new 90

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The centenarians . . . Yvette Williams Retirement Village residents (front, from left) Prof Alan Horsman (99), Monica Wilson (100), Thelma Snow (100), Mary Cochrane (100), and (rear, from left) Nance Orr (102) with Minister of Health Dr David Clark. PHOTO: JOHN LEWIS

Fifty years ago, celebrating someone’s 100th birthday was as rare as hen’s teeth.

Now it is becoming as common as false teeth, especially at the Yvette Williams Retirement Village which has four residents over the age of 100 and another about to turn 100 next week.

Village activity co-ordinator Rosa Korneliussen said she had been working in elderly care facilities for about 15 years and she had never come across so many centenarians living in one place at the same time.

“We usually have one or two a year, but this is the most we’ve ever had. It’s just getting bigger and bigger.

“It says a lot about the quality of care here. Improvements in medical care and medication have also played a significant part,” she said.

“People are living to much older ages now, and reaching 100 will become commonplace in the years to come.”

Resident Nance Orr, who turns 103 in November, credited her longevity simply to eating healthy food and walking everywhere.

She recalled her childhood, when the first motor cars started driving around the streets of Dunedin, and marvelled at their speed as she walked to school.

She said her father would take the family on long walks at the weekends, which would usually end at a tearoom somewhere in the city.

Regular walking was a habit she had continued until recent years, she said.

Health Minister Dr David Clark visited Mrs Orr and the other centenarians at the Yvette Williams Retirement Village last Friday, to personally meet and congratulate them.