Today is World Health Day

Aqua exercise

Happy World Health Day! The 7th April is a day dedicated to health by the World Health Organsation (WHO), and every year the theme changes. This year the topic is active ageing and healthy living in later years.

The WHO has some fantastic case studies to help dispel the myths and stereotypes older people all over the world have to overcome. We wanted to share some of them today.

Helmut Wirz, retired pharmacist © Karsten Thormaehlen

Helmut Wirz, retired pharmacist © Karsten Thormaehlen

Helmut Wirz, retired pharmacist

Jumping head first from high altitudes is 87-year old Helmut Wirz’s passion. The former pharmacist discovered bungee-jumping at the age of 75. “When I’m standing up there,
I feel completely calm“, he says, despite the fact that he is only secured by a rubber band fixed to his legs. Helmut held the record as the oldest bungee jumper in the world for many years and is not planning to switch to playing chess or bowling any time soon.


© Karsten Thormaehlen

Nordet dancing with her grandson. © Karsten Thormaehlen

Mirtha Nordet, retired ophthalmologist

Mirtha Nordet and her teenage grandson Damian are very close. When his 69-year-old grandmother offered to teach him his first salsa steps, Damian immediately said yes.  “I want my grandchildren to learn as much as possible about the culture and traditions of my home country Cuba,” says the retired ophthalmologist, who goes dancing several times a month. “Salsa is a kind of liberation for me. It gives me energy and I stop thinking,” she enthuses. Despite some recent back problems, Mirtha hopes to go on dancing long into the future.


© HelpAge International/Antonio Olmos

Maximiliana, shepherd © HelpAge International/Antonio Olmos

Maximiliana, shepherd

Maximiliana has been herding sheep and goats since she was a small child. But much has changed in the past 60 years. When she was young, grass was plentiful. Now she has to walk 15 kilometers across the parched pastures of the high Peruvian Andes to find enough grazing for her animals. Maximiliana and her husband recently joined a senior citizens’ club where they help to work communal fields. This supplements their diet and income. “I still love walking in the mountains with the animals”, 65-year old Maximiliana says, “but I’ll need to find some other way to earn money because I won’t be able to keep doing this forever.”

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