Saturday, November 28, 2015         

Young at Heart

Racquet master still driving to be all that he can be
At 61, Joe Lee has a lean and muscular build. He looks half his age. With his solid 6-foot-3, 183-pound frame, he still seems capable of competing with high-school athletes in basketball and football, just as he did more than 40 years ago in rural Statesboro, Ga., 55 miles northwest of Savannah. Story »
Chris Morita proves the old adage that it's never too late to try new things. As a youngster she avoided all physical activity and described herself as an introverted bookworm. She volunteered in the school office to avoid taking PE class.

The sun is just coming up, and Mary Ann Knerr is already in the ocean off Lanikai Beach, ready to paddle. Or, depending on the day, she might be at the YMCA doing aerobics, Pilates or Zumba, or perhaps tai chi at Kailua Beach Park.

A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at age 28 didn't dissuade Sister Mary Edward Sugioka from an active life. For 14 years she taught at St. Joseph School in Hilo before she moved to Syracuse, N.Y., to continue teaching elementary school students.

If you are near or over the age of 50, then you already know that as a person ages, the body functions differently from when you were 20. Genetic "weak links" begin to appear, and eating a diet that is short on essential nutrients can accelerate aging.

Cosette Harms, 67, is an avid waterwoman at home with a kayak, outrigger canoe or stand-up paddleboard. "Anything in the water, on the water, underwater," she said. Last summer she paddled the Na Pali Coast in a kayak. Two years ago it was white-water rafting on the Colorado River.

Sharing the Japanese culture comes naturally to 90-year-old Lillian Yajima. She grew up with a deep sense of gratitude for the first Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii. "I saw pictures of the shacks that they had to live in. ... The work that they had to do must have been unbearable," she said.

Katie Ibaraki was 7 or 8 when she barely escaped her Waipahu home, as floodwaters from a sudden downpour rose over her head. Muddy water filled her eyes, ears and mouth. "I could barely breathe," she said, clearly remembering the thunder and lightning that intensified the trauma nearly 60 years ago.

What makes us uniquely ourselves? Certainly, memories play a key role in shaping our uniqueness. We are clearly shaped by our past experiences, and the memories of these experiences strongly influence how we relate to the world.

Fitness spans all ages
Seniors in their 70s, 80s and 90s climb ropes 16 to 18 feet high. They jump on the trampoline and do acrobatics or flips in a belt. Some practice safe falling, tumbling or do other gymnastics. Story »
Most authors obsessively write, write, write and dream, dream, dream of the day they get a credit line. Helen Nakano, on the other hand, is an "accidental author," as she puts it.

Robert "Bobby" Oshiro always hits a home run as head cook for his senior softball league. The 70-year-old Hawaii Kai resident, who plays in two "makule" (elderly) leagues, is known for his sharp culinary skills, organic green thumb and, most of all, his generosity toward his teammates and elderly in the community.

The afternoon school bell rings. Alika Raneses calls out to a moon-faced third-grader, exchanging greetings and good-natured teasing. The 69-year-old Ala Wai Elementary School part-time Hawaiiana teacher — "Uncle Alika" to the kids — grins when the boy says he's taking an after-school hula class.

Paris, Cairo, Sydney, Denpasar, Beijing — disabled travelers are traveling the world thanks to knowledgeable resources, state-of-the-art technology, and extra planning and foresight.

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