Lessons on Having a Long, Fulfilling Life as Told by Century-Old Sisters

If you’ve grown up as an only child, having siblings was no doubt a thought you’ve pondered on and off again. Having someone to play with growing up would have been nice, but you’d also have to deal with petty arguments.

Having more company at home would have been a welcome change, that is until you have to share a room and drop the concept of privacy entirely. There’s also the chance you could end up with an antagonizing sibling, as well, which is where the idea becomes far less desirable.

Some of the most important years, however, are when siblings become adults and go their separate ways. They’re no longer forced to share a home and socialize. It’s them that have to decide whether their relationship with one another will be close, or downright estranged.

For one pair of siblings, they’ve found a way to both keep and touch and stay close despite an entire century of history between them, containing memories of the good and the bad. Shirley Hodes and Ruth Sweedler both live in assisted living housing 800 miles apart, and yet they make sure to call each other three times a week. They make an effort to see each other when they can, and by all outward perspectives, seem happy and fulfilled with their lives.

So that begs the question: what’s their secret? Thankfully, the sisters were more than willing to share what they’ve learned from 100 years of experience.


Keep in touch

friends talking at a table in a pub

This might seem obvious, as keeping a nice circle of friends and family is imperative to one’s happiness. With Shirley and Ruth, it goes deeper than that, given their age. It’s very rare that people live up to their age, which means that their generation is dwindling. It has to be difficult finding someone who can relate to your experiences and share fond memories with. This requires forgiveness, and the ability to work through your problems, because in the end, sometimes they’re all you have. Sweedler, for example, lost her two daughters young, and so her sister is one of the only close contacts she has. We’re glad the sisters are able to have that connection.

As Hodes stated, “There were a lot of things we had to put up with, but we were better people for that.”




To feel regrets from choices you’ve made in the past is something we all do, but it’s especially hard for the elderly. Shirley and Ruth have shared how they regret some missed opportunities or mistakes they have made. We’re all familiar with these thoughts, but as we sit with them, the years tick by, and suddenly, you no longer have the capability to pursue them. According to the sisters, however, you can’t spend the rest of your life dwelling on these mistakes. Eventually, you have to let go to live a happy life.

“Not all people appreciate what’s in their life,” Hodes said, “they  take it for granted. I’m not like that. I like to analyze situations, and I feel like I’ve been blessed.”


Read a Few Books

reading books

Hodes phrased it best when she said, “Read, so you can keep developing your mind.”

Keeping your brain sharp is fairly imperative to a mentally healthy life. There have been studies that detailed how avid readers were less at risk for dementia. At such a fine age, just reading a few pages each day could do your mind wonders. Plus, it staves off boredom and passes the time.


Moderate Diet and Exercise


This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Diet and exercise are the core tenants of living a healthy lifestyle, and the sisters follow the path to achieve their happy lives. In fact, when asked the question “what’s the secret to a long life?” Sweedler said, “You don’t ever smoke and you don’t ever drink.” They both keep themselves active through frequent walks, with Hodes even doing five-mile walks every morning.

Diet and exercise may seem obvious, but it just goes to show how some restraint and a few steps outside every day can really work towards your health.


In Conclusion:

That’s all there is to it. You might look at some of this advice and find it to be common sense, and that’s because Shirley and Ruth are just normal everyday people. They follow simple rules to a healthy life, and for that, they’ve come to live quite the storied tale. It’s one that they’re happy to share with the world, and aee savoring each other’s company now more than ever.

Shirley Hodes says it best:

“Family is very important to us. Close relationships are very important. They keep you going.”


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