On August 26 2023 South Australian woman, Catherina van der Linden, will turn 111. As Australia’s oldest known person, she has shared the secrets to living a long, happy and healthy life ahead of her birthday celebrations.
The spritely centenarian has four children, ten grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. Born in the Netherlands in 1912, she is also believed to be the oldest know Dutch person. She, her husband and young family migrated to Australia in 1955.
van der Linden now resides at Southern Cross Care’s West Beach Residential Care Home in Adelaide where according to staff she is a positive influence on others.
West Beach Residential Care Manager, Catherine Willoughby, described her as an amazing model of healthy ageing and an inspiration to other residents at the home who are now following her routine.
According to van der Linden one of the secrets to her reaching this significant milestone in such good heath is leading an active lifestyle.
She said taking part in gym sessions two or three times a week and going on long walks are all part of her exercise regime. She even goes ten minutes on the exercise bike which she claims to be a “long time to spend on a bike”.
And she doesn’t let the eventual onset of fatigue stand in her way.
“I push myself sometimes when I’m getting a bit tired and I think it’s about time to do something to yourself to see that you still have that energy that you had before,” she said.
Willoughby added, “I think it’s amazing that she’s 111 and the fact that she’s still so mobile and still very much alert and oriented to what’s happening around her.”
The other ingredient in van der Linden’s recipe for a long and happy life is “to be happy with yourself and content with what life gives you”.
About finding joy she said, “Sometimes it’s not very good and sometimes it’s better but you have to take the bad with the good as well and it’s possible to make living a joy.”
Mrs van der Linden has worked as a grape picker, nursing assistant, typist and clerical assistant but nowadays enjoys spending time with family and getting together with her friends.
“With my family I like to sit together and have a meal, a very simple meal together, that’s always very nice in a family atmosphere,” she said.
Her eldest daughter, Mariella Hocking, said she was pleased that her mother was enjoying keeping fit and healthy and put her mother’s incredible longevity down to a “freaky gene” in her family tree.
“Mum had one aunt who also lived to 110 but all her brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, all lived only to their 60s and early 70s, so there’s a freaky gene there somewhere in the family I think,” Hocking explained.
In addition to van der Linden’s advice to a long life, recent research revealed that interacting with others regularly may prolong the lives of older adults.
The study, which examined over 28,000 individuals, indicated that socialising on a daily basis appears to be the most advantageous for increasing longevity.
Overall, the study found that more frequent social activity was associated with longer survival. The greater the frequency of social interactions, the greater the likelihood of living longer.