You’re only as young as you feel, and no one knows this better than Seattle resident Albertha Dorsey. Albertha is 93-years young and living proof that how we perceive age can have a profound impact on how we actually grow old.
“I don’t feel old,” Albertha explains as she crosses her apartment, wearing four-inch high heels. “You’re as old as you think. If you think old, you’ll be old. People retire, then they do nothing. You have to keep going. I get up at eight, I do stretch class, then Tai Chi, then yoga, weight lifting, and aqua aerobics.” Throughout her life, Albertha has always been committed to an active lifestyle. She attributes her incredible health and youthful nature to exercise. When it comes to the art of aging gracefully, Albertha has mastered it. In fact, every year Albertha takes a fitness test to track her skills and was recently told she has the body of a 60-year-old.
It’s not just a strong fitness regimen that gives Albertha her age-defying looks and energy. Researchers often analyze inspiring older adults like Albertha to identify common behaviors that lead to longevity. Many researchers have noted that centenarians – people that live to be 100 – often report having a sense of purpose or a goal when they wake up in the morning. Albertha confesses that she has a love of people and is driven everyday by a need to help others. For the past five years, Albertha has resided at Skyline, a continuing care retirement community where she finds plenty of opportunities to live out her passion to help others. She volunteers her time with the residents of the community whom receive health services, offering companionship and including them in her family brunches. Albertha notes that she legally adopted two adults who were family friends but considered Albertha their “mother.” She spearheads a girl’s-night-out and has been known to stay out until midnight.
“Age is only a number; it’s just in your head,” says Albertha. “I’m 93 and the only time I have been hospitalized was to have babies.” Albertha’s unyielding optimism is also a likely contributor to her fountain of youth. Born and raised in New Orleans, Albertha grew up walking three miles to school while white students took the bus. She married her husband Edwin at 18 and together they started several businesses and raised five daughters and one son. When Edwin died suddenly, Albertha’s neighborhood support and faith prevailed and she began a long and successful career working for Nordstrom. At 70 she tried to retire from her role at Nordstrom as the mailing department manager, but the company refused to let her leave. Albertha finally retired at the age of 80 and proudly shares that for her retirement party, company officials authorized for the corporate jet to fly in far-away employees for the celebration.
March 22 is national You-are-as young-as-you-feel-Day, encouraging us all to remember that our perceptions of age have a profound impact on who we become. Just ask Albertha, who does not credit her thriving longevity to genetics. In fact, Albetha says that her parents both passed away in their early 70s. Albertha’s optimism, sense of purpose, strong spiritual rooting, warm family connections and affinity for physical fitness are her secret sauce. So it’s no surprise that at age 93, going on 21, Albertha shakes a finger and says, “Honey, I’m not old.”