Remarkable Rand Aid residents who redefine the image of ageing

The image of seniors in rocking chairs staring day-long at the telly is as outdated as dial-up modems for connectivity and steering locks for vehicle safety.

The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2030, one in six people in the world will be aged 60 years or over

“The more candles on your birthday cake, the more likely it is for an individual to develop age-related health challenges. That does not mean that people should not continue to live life to the fullest,” says Zabeth Zühlsdorff, GM: Services and Advance Division of Rand Aid Association, which runs four retirement villages and two care centres.

“Instead, individuals must revel in not having to spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and must embrace the activities they dreamt of when their time was not their own – as best as their health allows,” she says.

“Rand Aid is committed to creating environments that promote active and healthy ageing,” says Zabeth’s colleague Ayanda Matthews, GM: Compliance & Social React Division. “We offer a lock-up-and-go lifestyle that promotes travel. Our villages and care centres offer carefully curated services, socials, outings, and activities to promote interaction as well as mental, emotional and physical well-being.”

“We embrace the World Health Organisation’s focus on healthy ageing, which is all about ‘enabling older people to remain a resource to their families, communities and economies’,” says Zabeth.

Eleven residents in Rand Aid’s four retirement villages embody the ideal of healthy ageing. These residents are all 95 years or older, still live in their own homes, and enjoy enriching activities and relationships.

“While a few need some help from carers, the majority of these inspiring individuals continue to live independent and meaningful lives,” says Ayanda.

Meet the golden ‘oldies’

Isobel Kohll (100) (ALERT: turns 101 on November 13)

For 21 years, Isobel has called Elphin Lodge home.

Turning 101 on November 13, she attributes her well-being to having diverse interests and ‘doing what I enjoy, such as painting and art’.

Isobel loves attending the gatherings of Elphin Lodge Art and Craft Group and plays a mean game of Scrabble.

Joyce Lockhart (100)

A resident of Elphin Lodge for an amazing 32 years, Joyce’s values include tolerance, kindness and consideration, traits that have contributed considerably to her well-being.

She remains active in the village church and does the odd chores when needed.

In her younger years, Joyce was a full-time mom who sewed, knitted and ferried her children around. She served on various school and community committees, which continued when she moved to Elphin Lodge, when the village was still establishing itself.

Billie Sack (99)

A resident of Inyoni Creek for 14 years, Billie walks daily and tries to complete a crossword puzzle every day and do a bit of diamond dot crafting. A bridge player for more than 80 years and a bridge teacher until the advent of Covid-19, she still plays once a week.

“Only lately, I’ve started to feel like I’m almost 100. I’m lucky, I guess. It must be good genes. I had an aunt who lived to 100.”

Billie attributes her longevity to having an active mind.

Hylda Molly Skutelsky (99)

Twenty-one years ago, at the age of 78, Hylda moved into the newly opened Thornhill Manor.

When she was in her 50s, Hylda retrained as a therapist and counsellor. She spent 21 years as a Hospice counsellor and at the age of 90 was still taking calls from ex-clients.

Her passions are bridge, music, esoterics, yoga, reading, meditation and counselling.

Unfortunately, Hylda is now wheelchair bound.

She attributes her well-being to helping others, being kind, and having family ties.

Hugh Cunningham (97)

An Inyoni Creek resident since 2008. Hugh says he enjoys a daily walk, reading non-fiction and thrillers, and playing bridge and Scrabble.

He attributes his well-being to being positive and optimistic about most things and remaining active, and says he is blessed that he has no joint pain. He has this advice for healthy ageing: “When bad things happen, they will pass. Carrying on as though you are younger.”

Masha Hackel (97)

Age: 97

An Inyoni Creek resident of nine years, Masha enjoys reading but says that because of arthritis, her knitting days are behind her. She loves television quiz programmes that test her general knowledge and enjoys cooking and baking.

“When I get up in the morning, I thank the Lord for another day, and I pray for strength so that I can do what I need to do,” she says when asked to what she attributes her well-being.

“I was born into struggle; I had to look after myself from a young age.”

Masha’s family came to South Africa from Poland in 1934.

Veronica Louisa Katherine Benecke (96)

For 23 years, Veronica has happily lived in Thornhill Manor. Her hobbies include reading and online gambling via her phone.

She says family is vitally important and that her loved ones inspire her.

Mike Britany (95)

“Moving to Inyoni Creek Retirement Village in 2011 was the best move I ever made,” says Mike.

He loves reading and gardening. “I mess around in my garden and propagate African violets,” he says. Previously known for his striking orchids, Mike says he no longer focuses on these beauties because they are ‘hard work’.

He also does chair exercises and finds them excellent for maintaining his mobility.

Mike believes in eating in moderation and the power of friendship.

Sybil Jassinowsky (95)

One of Sybil’s biggest blessings is that her family ‘live up the road’.

A resident of Inyoni Creek for 14 years, Sybil says she battles to keep up with some of the activities she used to love because she has ‘started having trouble with my eyes’. She has a close bond with her loved ones and enjoys regular visits from her friends.

Her tips for healthy ageing are controlling your temper, remaining active for as long as possible, and keeping up your appearance.

She says she married at 20 and had five children, which kept her young.

Geraldine Lonsdale (95)

The avid cook, knitter and reader moved to pretty Tarentaal village in 2015 and says she has hard work to thank for her longevity.

Elvira Neves Jorge De Caires (95)

A Tarentaal resident for nearly nine years, Elvira can often be found with a crochet needle or gardening tools in her hands. She also enjoys watching TV.

‘Hard work and eating healthy’ are her tips for healthy ageing.

These inspirational residents were honoured guests at Inyoni Creek’s monthly birthday bash on November 2, where their ‘determined spirits’ were celebrated.

Inyoni Creek resident Masha Hackel said at the event that the organisers had ‘outdone themselves’. “I thoroughly enjoyed the birthday tea.”

Photo caption: Seated around the table, from the left, are Masha Hackel (97), Billie Sack (99), Hugh Cunningham (97) and Mike Brittany (95) from Inyoni Creek; Elphin Lodge’s Isobel Kohll (100); Elvira de Caires (95) and Geraldine Lonsdale (95) from Tarentaal; carer Busi Tinta; Inyoni Creek resident Sybil Jassinowsky (95); carer Varnia Esbend; Elphin Lodge’s Joyce Lockhart (100). Absent: Hylda Skutelsky (95) and Veronica Benecke (95), both from Thornhill Manor. Standing are members of the Rand Aid management team: Zabeth Zühlsdorff, Ayanda Matthews, Helen Petrie, Debbie Beech, Laetitia Goosen, Tammy Neilson, Jenny Tonkin and carer Letwin Mahlengwe.