6 gems of wisdom from Island seniors

Have you ever wondered what the recipe is to a longer, happier life?

CBC spoke with some of the Island's seniors on how to age well and live life to its fullest. 

1. Go out and see the world

Looking back, Wilfred Callaghan says travelling made him a better, smarter person.

The 86-year-old, who spent about 60 years of his life in Alberton, P.E.I., said in travelling "you learn something new every day."

Sam Juric/CBC

"You don't learn anything sitting here," he added.

As a young man, Callaghan travelled to Ireland, Hawaii and Calgary, and said those experiences made him a better person and forced him to meet new people. 

"Travel, spend [money], learn something," is his advice.

2. Get involved 

Sam Juric/CBC

"Volunteering — that will bring joy to you and to other people. And when you can bring joy to other people — you certainly bring joy to yourself," said Scott MacDonald, president of the Seniors Active Living Centre in Charlottetown. 

The more engaged you are as you grow old the better, he said.

In addition to helping others, being active in your community will also help in coping with loneliness and isolation as you age. 

3. Save early

The 71-year-old also said it's important to look ahead as a young person and anticipate what life will be like during retirement. 

"Throw as much money as you can into a retirement savings plan. You can't get enough into it."

Too many older folks on the Island live on too little, MacDonald said, and are limited in how they spend their retirement years because of it. 

4. Know how to argue 

Submitted by Scott MacDonald

Rita Perry has lived in Tignish, P.E.I., most of her 98 years.

She married her husband when she was 20 years old as the Second World War broke out.

She said learning when to apologize in a relationship was one of the most important nuggets of wisdom her mother passed down to her as a young bride. 

"Oh, that was my mother's thing. My mother said, 'Never go to bed Rita, if you had a quarrel ... without saying you're sorry.' And that was the best advice that she ever gave me."

"It makes life easier — if you don't it festers," Perry said. 

5. Narrow the generation gap

Olive Bryanton is the oldest-ever recipient of a PhD from UPEI. The 82-year-old defended her thesis and received her PhD in December. 

Sam Juric/CBC

While formal education is definitely something Bryanton thinks young people should pursue, she said it's learning from one another that's really important. 

"I think we learn a lot from each other. And the younger generations bring in the new ideas and I think we should always be open to new ideas," Bryanton said. 

Connecting and getting to know people outside your generation is important in have a broader sense of the world and yourself, she said. Having empathy for the differing experiences of older and younger people than yourself is very valuable, she said. 

"Sometimes there can be a little conflict but you need to understand from each other's perspective. Conflict can always be solved," Bryanton said. 

6. Self-care

"Each day, each person needs to have some time for themselves to realize that they can't always be doing [things] for others, that they need some down time for themselves," Bryanton said. 

Having a good relationship with yourself, she said, is built on small things like taking time to sit and read, go out and treat yourself or just taking a moment to relax during the day. 

"I think it builds up your own self-esteem and your own self-worth," Bryanton said. 

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