They're active, healthy and they're over the age of 60.
More and more seniors are living longer these days. Some are defying the odds by challenging their bodies and minds, to attempt things many of us never thought were possible at their age.
CBS47's Steve McCarron reveals secrets from active Valley seniors about how to live long, healthy lives.
It's a beautiful winter morning at China Peak Mountain Resort. The sun is shining. You can feel the crisp in the air. Dr. Jim, as he's known to regulars, is getting ready to teach this beginning skier a few basics.
Dr. Jim, who’s real name is Jim Walters, knows these mountains like the back of his hand. He started teaching lessons there back in the spring of 1970 with only five years of skiing under his belt.
Outside of his medical practice in Madera, skiing has become a passion for Dr. Jim, and he has no plans of slowing down, even at 74-years-old. “I work out a lot. The focus being... I want to be in shape for skiing. I want to be a better skier,” said Jim.
It's not hard to find other seniors in the Valley, just like Dr. Jim, who refuse to let their age define them.
Mary Bergman's love for music began 82 years ago at the age of 4-years-old. To this day, she still refers to the black and white keys as "foo-bar.” Now at 86-years-old, Mary says, “It speaks to me. It really speaks.”
Bergman says the secret to staying young is to find something you love.
86-year-old Ed Marouk would agree with Mary. The former trial attorney took a sculpting class at the Fresno Art Museum 35 years ago as a way to relieve stress from his exhausting job. “I put my hands in the clay and my gawd, it was like magic,” said Ed.
Every night, Ed works on his hobby in a small studio inside his apartment. One piece can take him months to finish. “I tried everything… tennis, golf, whatever... but nothing ever gelled,” said Ed.
By 2050, the number of Americans 65-years or older is expected to more than double nationwide to more than 88 million. The health care implications are enormous.
CBS47 medical expert Dr. Giatri Dave say genetics play a big role in how long we live but there are steps you can take early on to help prevent future problems. “The sooner you're on a healthy lifestyle, doing it on your own or with your doctor's help, the earlier you can detect problems and keep your body healthy for the long run,” said Dr. Dave.
Tips to live longer and healthier:
Diet and Exercise
Staying up-to-date on yearly health care screenings and exams
If you smoke, quit
Watch your alcohol intake
Because exercise is so important, senior living communities like Fairwinds Woodward Park purposely offers plenty of options to keep seniors active.
Jessica McCune with Fairwinds said, “When you first start working here, you have an expectation of what you think older people do. And they just blow you out of the water.”
To combat mounting medical problems, 61-year-old Dee Zimmerman decided two-and-a-half years ago to make exercise a priority. These days, most of the people in her adult classes at Swim America are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. “I can not tell you the difference it makes. It's been a life changer for me,” said Dee.
57-year-old Mark Haymond likes his exercise to be off the ground. He stops by Metal Mark Climbing and Fitness just about every week to tackle their 45 foot wall. Often times, you'll find his buddy Paul Martzen just a few steps away. Both men are conscious of how their bodies have changed since the early 70s. “We see how many arbitrary and unnecessary heel hooks can we do. We throw our leg up and we hook with it and it's just a game with it. But it gets us moving in a different way,” said Mark.
Back at China Peak, Dr. Jim says his goal is to keep moving out on the slopes for at least another 10 years. If he keeps going the way he is now, you'll likely hear his voice still calling out commands on the mountain… at the age of 85.