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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

Love.

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Photo of Ashley Jablow

ha, thanks Katie!

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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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