Keeping good company for a healthy old age

The Drinnan sisters, from left, Meryl, Hazel and Eva, together represent nearly 300 years of life and experience.

When looking for advice on how to stay fit and healthy, there is perhaps no better place to start than with someone who, aged 91, is still enjoying a healthy, active life.

Meryl Wilson, nee Drinnan, has lived at Maygrove Village for the past 14 years.

She plays indoor bowls three times a week, cards and bingo, and enjoys Happy Hour.

But Meryl believes the real secret to staying well is to make sure to stay in touch with people.

“You have to make an effort to keep mixing and making new friends,” she says.

This wasn’t a problem growing up on a diary farm at Waitoki/Kaukapakapa.

“As one of 13 children – eight boys and five girls – I’ve been used to company all my life. We’d milk the cows every morning and evening, and school was a three-and-a-half mile walk along a dusty, metal road. But we always got along well together and when we weren’t helping out around the farm, we’d be climbing the old macrocarpas or fishing for eels and crabs in the creeks. They were lovely times.”

Meryl’s father also had a chain of butcher shops in Albany, Silverdale, Manly and Orewa, which her brothers worked in as they got older.

“We ate simply – porridge for breakfast, meat and veges from the garden for dinner, and always a pudding.”

She says the family has always been a close one, without quarrels or argument, and this continued when the children began to marry.

“It was wonderful to be part of such a big, happy family because it makes you content. I think being with other people whose company you enjoy is very, very important.”

Meryl says she still sees her surviving siblings regularly – brothers, Archie (88) and Brian (86), and sisters, Hazel (102) and Eva (101).

“My only other advice is not to under-estimate the benefits of walking.”


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