Sheffield centenarians

Sheffield centenarians share their secrets to a happy and healthy life at celebration dinner dance

We recently invited two hundred of Sheffield’s centenarians, their families and friends, and local dignitaries to an afternoon tea party and dinner dance to celebrate 100 years of Westfield Health. The event was organised by Kathy Markwick for both ourselves and Sheffield Age UK, and was held at the Crowne Plaza Royal Victoria Hotel.

Each year we donate to Sheffield Age UK to support the vital work they carry out within communities across the city, offering support, services, advice and information for elderly people.

This year, we co-hosted the special event to say thank you to guests in their 80s, 90s and 100s who have supported us throughout the century. The event was a great success, with many memories shared along with aspirations for the future.

The centenarians also had a lot to say on living a long, healthy and happy life, and were willing to share some of their secrets with us:

1. Everything in moderation

Hilda Houdmont is 99 and turns 100 in January. She says having everything in moderation is her secret, including treating yourself now and again.

She’s onto something, as research shows a healthy balanced diet is important for our overall health, and it’s not just about eating the right foods but also the right amounts. It’s all about knowing what’s healthy and getting the balance right. Experimenting and finding foods we like is key, as it’s a lot easier to stick to when we’re eating things we like.

2. Smile

Tony Foulds, 83, says he’s been smiling all his life. He goes by an old saying “smile and the world smiles with you”.

The science backs him up–smiling is contagious and can elevate our mood and the mood of those around us. Smiling isn’t just an involuntary response to things that bring us joy or laughter, it can be as much a voluntary response as a powerful and conscious choice.

Smiling relaxes our bodies so that our immune systems can react quicker and more effectively against infection. A study by London University College says that happy, cheerful people are 35% more likely to live longer.

3. Stay active

Ernest celebrated his 101st birthday at the event and attributes his longevity to being active and simply continuing with daily activities. He enjoyed digging in his allotment and continued to drive until he was 96.

Research shows that remaining active and taking part in gentle exercise can help to improve lost mobility, which often declines as we age. It’s important to stay active as being unable to carry out day-to-day activities can cause many older people to feel isolated from society, which can lead to other issues such as depression and anxiety.

Keeping moving can also help to alleviate pain from conditions such as arthritis. Exercise can be as simple as a swim in the pool, a short daily workout or half an hour in the garden. Keeping active also keeps our minds sharp, offers a sense of purpose and helps combat loneliness and isolation.

4. Dance

During the dinner dance, 101 year old Ernest shared stories of his earlier years, where he danced regularly with his wife. He attributes this to keeping fit, and he’s not wrong–dancing is a great way to stay healthy, and is often referred to as ‘exercise in disguise’.

Anybody at any age or stage in life can learn to dance. As an aerobic exercise, dancing can improve heart health as well as having weight loss benefits and the ability to treat depression and anxiety. Social dancing has also been linked to acting against dementia and cognitive decline.

In our centenary year, we want to thank our customers and partners for their ongoing commitment and support. It’s been an exciting – and sometimes challenging – journey since we were founded in 1919.

View our interactive timeline to learn more about how we became the wellbeing provider we are today and what the future holds.

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