Happy seniors on a mountain

By Jan Matheny, ICP volunteer, age 82

Jan MathenyAccording to Northwestern Medicine*, a Super-Ager is someone in their 80s or older who exhibits cognitive function that is comparable to that of an average middle-aged individual. They identified common habits of Super-Agers, including living an active lifestyle, continuing to challenge themselves, and being social butterflies. Jan, an active and vibrant ICP volunteer at 82, truly embodies a lifestyle that supports super aging!

If being a Super-Ager means taking advantage of opportunities to do things that I enjoy, then that’s me! In the La Grange community, I have served as a volunteer driver for Interfaith Community Partners since 2005. It is a pleasure to meet new clients and get to know them. Often friendships develop that continue for years! I have also served as a coordinator for the La Grange/Western Springs CROP Hunger Walk each October. At First United Methodist Church in La Grange, I am active in our adult Sunday School class, United Women of Faith, and Church Women United, as well as serving on several committees and maintaining the church library.

My husband Don and I moved to Plymouth Place Senior Living in 2019. We wanted to downsize while we were still able to enjoy all that our new residence has to offer. I jumped right in by volunteering in the wonderful library, working in the Marketplace gift shop, and tutoring employees in English as a Second Language classes. At the risk of sounding like a plug for senior retirement communities, I must say that living in ours provides many choices. Being free of the maintenance chores that a house requires leaves plenty of time to participate in a wide range of activities. I have joined discussion groups, such as Great Decisions, dealing with important global concerns such as climate migration and the war in Ukraine. I attend a variety of programs including musical, art, history, and current events. There is always something new to learn!

Making new friends has been wonderful, leading to times of fellowship, support for and by others when needed, and the discovery of many common interests and experiences that we share. We are looking forward to a Plymouth Place trip to Ireland in September with other residents.

Of course, we still spend time with friends that we have known and loved for the many years we have lived in this area – since 1962! And we are grateful for the special times we can share with family members who also live in La Grange. Each summer we drive to Portland, Oregon to visit family. We camp in our tent in state parks for four days along the way, and again on the way back home.

My husband and I have been blessed with healthy bodies enabling us to enjoy many outdoor activities. In good weather, we play golf at least twice a week. We enjoy long hikes in town and in many of the forest preserves in the area. Snowy winter days find us cross-country skiing on nearby trails in Cook and Du Page counties. And at Plymouth Place, we play bocce ball, cornhole, and use the putting green.

I have found that embracing change and exploring new possibilities energizes my life and helps me maintain a positive attitude. I am grateful for all the blessings I enjoy!

*Source: 4 Habits of “SuperAgers” | Northwestern Medicine