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Lessons from My 100 Year-Old Grandpa

When I first learned about our new Ageing Challenge, I immediately thought about my grandpa and wanted to share his story.

Photo of Ashley Jablow
14 19

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My grandpa was born in 1912, which makes him 100 years old. When you think about the changes he's seen and experienced – from politics to technology to culture and more – it's really incredible.

In early 2013, my son was born – which puts great grandpa and great grandson exactly 100 years and 3 months apart. When I think about what grandpa has seen in the world, and what my son will see as he grows up, I get goosebumps! 

Grandpa is, in my mind, a model example of an older person aging with dignity, grace and humor. He still lives in his own home and receives care formally from a home health care worker, and informally from my mom and her siblings who live close by and are very involved in his life.

I plan to interview Grandpa for this challenge (in fact, I also interviewed him for our Accessible Voting Challenge!) – but for now I wanted to share some of my observations on how he approaches aging.

Grandpa was one of the original employees at Hewlett Packard and he worked there for 5 or 6 decades in total. The story goes that each time someone in the company approached him about retiring, grandpa said: "if I can run X number of miles, I'm not going to retire now." And he didn't. In fact, he worked for HP until he was 90. I think he's just always been an avid learner, very curious and explorative – and that has served him well in life, at work, and as he ages. Now, this appetite for learning is demonstrated by his voracious need to read – the newspaper (online!), books, magazines, you name it. In fact, every time I see him we talk about what he's been reading lately.

Grandpa has also always been very active physically – from running and lifting weights when he was younger, to now walking around the block with his walker everyday. In fact he and I used to go running every Sunday when I was in high school. Even though he moves very slowly now, he still gets fresh air and exercise every day.

Finally, I think the way he eats is especially interesting because it sheds light on his approach to aging. For as long as I can remember, grandpa has eaten the same thing for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks: lots of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fat and lots of fiber. And he always has a glass of white wine when he watches the news at night and some ice cream for dessert. I believe, as does he, that a big part of why he's aged so well is that he eats right, he eats a good variety of foods, and also indulges moderately in foods that he enjoys.

Overall my grandpa is a true role model for me – not just for how he's aging but for how he has lived and now lives his life. I'm a very lucky granddaughter!
I'm going to see him soon so I'll interview him next. Do you want to conduct an interview? Use this Interview Toolkit we've created to get started.


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Photo of Katie Clark


Photo of Ashley Jablow

ha, thanks Katie!

Photo of Alejandro Rios

Ashley, your comment about the difference of time between your grandpa and son (103 years) is something I also wonder about many times, for example, I wonder how my son will be when he is 20 yo and I'm 50, will I still remember things I've done and felt? how can I save memories and learnings to share with him, maybe even if I already passed away. All this are very interesting questions to explore on this challenge I think

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