“Live, Love and Laughter” says Helen Kroesser when people ask her what is her secret to remain active and healthy at 101, soon to be 102! According to Helen, she couldn’t come up with something, a secret, so she started saying “Live, Love and laughter” and this seemed to make people happy, so that was good enough. But although Helen may not know her secret to aging as graciously as she has, after spending only few hours with her I lived through her stories, felt the love of her heart and laughed at her jokes.
“I have just been busy all my life, I never had time to think about myself and be sorry for my plate,” states Helen. No, Helen is not one to worry about herself she is more focused on helping others. Besides running the house, caring for her family and working, Helen managed to get involved with local organizations with a mission to help those in need. “I have always been a volunteer. When I was 81 years-old, a woman came to me and said, we have to do something about being 80, and we started a group called 80 Plus. I took over the organization, and after all these years, the club is still running.
One of Helen’s most memorable accomplishments during her time at 80 plus, is when she wrote to John Rohan, Director of Recreation at the Village Community Development District to discuss the absence of transportation programs in The Villages for older individuals who could no longer drive. Helen was determined to find drivers to help transport some of her friends. Well surely enough, Helen’s determination paid off when Mr. Rohan connected her with “Cici” at the Single Baby Boomers club. A meeting was arranged and shortly after the 80 plus club members were being helped by The Single Baby Boomers!
Most recently, through The Santiago, a women’s group in The Villages, Helen had the opportunity to help restore Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary School, “This is a fascinating story” says Helen, who loves to help those in need, especially children as she feels “magnetized” to them. Helen had been asking Marilyn, her daughter, to take her to the school to see how the renovations were moving along and when they arrived, Helen was given a brush and paint to help paint! “I stood for one hour and painted an umbrella” Helen states “I didn’t dare to sit down because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand up again, but I did it.”
At 101, Helen stays connected and communicates via e-mail. She uses e-mail to send messages to family and friends, though she admits struggling a little bit with the new e-mail account she signed on to. I had to change e-mail providers, says Helen, because I got tired of all the advertisements that kept popping-up in my account. I thought the change was going to be a simple, but the new system is entirely different, and I lost my address book during the process.
However, Helen is not one to give up, and she continues to learn how to navigate her new e-mail account. She also uses FaceTime to talk with her children and grandchildren and in some occasions she checks her Facebook page. My granddaughter, one day, came in and told me “Mimi, you have to be on Face something” and sometimes my family will put something about me and my picture will come up. But I am trying to stay alive on e-mail let alone using Facebook.”
Listening to her stories and reading her poetry you can feel the love she has for her friends, family and humanity. As a published author her poetry books are filled with love, appreciation and compassion for everyone who has been a part of her life. In her book “Memories (of this and that)” there’s a poem that exemplifies her love titled “Everyone Wants To Be Loved”.
Laughter is the best medicine and during the interview I laughed multiple times with Helen. Her stories and poetry open your heart, lift your spirits, place a smile on your face and make your side hurt from laughing.
So, what is the secret to aging gracefully?
Well for Helen the secret eludes her, but let her life be an example of living, loving, laughing and taking care of her health. “If I had something wrong, I had it taken care of.” Helen follows her doctor’s instructions and takes her medications as prescribed.
And although she admits she did not exercise much throughout her life, she kept herself extremely active leading a family, helping others and having fun and laughing with those around her. Often we fail to realize just how much exercise we get from living a busy life of going here and there and having a list of things to do.
It is also important to point out that hugging and kissing increases human bonding, physical and emotional pleasure, decreases stress, reduces weight gain while lowering common heart ailments including heart disease.
Let’s also review some health benefits that prove laughter is indeed the best medicine. Laughing improves mood, prevents heart disease, lowers stress hormones, burns calories, lowers blood sugar, strengthens the immune system, provides a physical and emotional release and is anti aging.
So, maybe we have found the secret to aging “Living, Loving, Laughing and Taking Care of our Health".
Thank You… Helen Kroesser for your life example of aging gracefully!