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article imageThe secret to longevity shared by 87-year-old Portland ‘star’ Special

By Carol Forsloff     Jun 18, 2011 in Lifestyle
Portland - Life expectancy is decreasing in the United States with the average life span approximately 78 years , according to recent reports. But there are folks who defy the odds, living joyously beyond that age.
What are the secrets of long life? Some recent observations and interview with a woman of a certain age reveals how some people are able to encapsulate the best in their lives and use it to age gracefully and with purpose.
Helen Lynn Raymond literally sang and danced her way into the heart of a journalist who watched her perform at a senior citizens center in Beaverton, Oregon this last week. It was just two weeks since the journalist had quietly succumbed to the understanding that the adjective “senior” added to “citizen” was an appropriate definition for one who enjoys activity, variety and change and looks forward to remaining young at heart for years. For anyone anticipating age to be a crisis, Helen Raymond, age 87, holds the answers to what long life is all about.
She sang with gusto to an audience that rose several times, all cheering, her strong and soaring voice touching ears and hearts and minds with words and tunes familiar to the folks. Raymond sang the standards, the show tunes and familiar music people like to hear. Her accompanist, a woman also of “a certain age” played sensitively, professionally behind the white-haired entertainer front and center on the stage.
Raymond hit the high notes, not quite perfect, with the strain of age when sometimes a voice no longer has the timbre that can polish notes up top. But the strength of Raymond’s delivery, the stamina and style, brought thunderous applause, as Raymond sang with rhythm and with feeling in a manner that made those years just fall away.
But music isn’t the only thing that keeps this senior young. “I believe in being happy, staying happy and surrounding myself with happy people, which I think has a lot to do with how to stay young and alive.” Raymond’s voice is crisp and clear, her eyes bright and full of life. She has the mind of youth, and proudly volunteered, “I have a Twitter account, so we can correspond. I’m also on Facebook where I interact with lots of friends and family everywhere. But my ambition is to be interviewed by Piers Morgan, because he is bright, and I think he and I can exchange ideas on his show and just have lots of fun. I try to keep up with things that are going on in the world, in entertainment, life, and politics.” She then went on to describe several interviews she had seen on television with Piers Morgan and his guests, with great detail and captivating style, never faltering to grasp for words, ideas that seem to plague most people as they age.
“The secret to long life is attitude,” she said, with the conviction of someone who has achieved much wisdom in her life. “I have friends of every age and am not afraid to live fully every day, as if it were my last. I go dancing every week, and last year I was crowned prom queen at the senior citizen dance held at a local high school. It was fun. I think the way to stay young is how you think about yourself and how you either take charge of your life or don’t. Some people let things happen to them, others make things happen. I like to think I’m someone who lives each day with joy. Even if there is sadness in your life somewhere, there is always something to be grateful about.”
The average life span
for a child born in 2009 may be 78, but Raymond who retired more than 20 years ago and moved from California to Oregon believes that one can defy the odds by healthy living, a positive outlook and letting go of fear. “People are afraid of growing older. I remember 20 years ago when I visited this senior center, I asked myself what I was going to do with all these gray-haired folks. But then I found the richness in their lives, and shared my joy with others; and I have found as much youth and good living here at the Elsie Stuhr Center as one can find anywhere in Portland. The Center serves seniors in the Northwestern section of Portland, Beaverton and surrounding suburban areas. “We are the lucky ones who aren’t afraid to live and try new things and be happy in the little things that can make us all feel good. Sometimes like other people I get caught up in politics and negative conversation, but I promised myself this year I would surround myself with happy people and share with everyone One of the biggest problems people have is too much stress in their lives, and that can change with attitude as well. Raymond's attitude corresponds with scientific facts, as researchers on longevity wrote in 2005 how stress speeds up the aging process.
Raymond who can act, sing, dance and write stories is as up to date with the new media as people half her age. For anyone who worries about getting older, or that life expectancy is decreasing, or who feels lonely and depressed with increasing age, Raymond is a statement of victory in aging, an example to her friends and other seniors and a treat for anyone who wants to live their lives out loud.
Twittering Morgan about his interviews and guests is a favorite activity, and many of Raymond's friends believe the host is missing something if he doesn’t get a lucky break and have her on his show. For many people in Northwest Portland and surrounding areas believe Raymond is that “star is born” for sure.
More about Longevity, Life expectancy, star is born, senior centers, Piers morgan
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