A South Australian great-grandmother who is believed to be Australia’s oldest living person has shared her secrets to a long, happy life ahead of her 111th birthday this week.
Catherina van der Linden, who lives in Southern Cross Care’s West Beach Residential Care in Adelaide, will reach the incredible milestone on Saturday, August 26.
Last year, on her 110th birthday, the van der Linden family received an email that their matriarch was Australia’s newest, oldest living person after the death of the former titleholder 110 year-old Frank Mawer.
Ahead of her 111th birthday celebrations this weekend, Mrs van der Linden has shared the secret to her longevity is keeping active, which she does by taking part in gym sessions and long walks – much to the amazement of staff at the residential care home.
“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,” Mrs van der Linden said, The Advertiser reports.
“I still go on the bike, sometimes for 10 minutes and that is a long time to spend on the bike.”
West Beach Residential Care manager Catherine Willoughby said Mrs van der Linden was an “amazing” model of healthy ageing and had actually inspired some residents at the home to follow her routine.
“Catherina is an inspiration to all of us, she’s still doing regular walks around the facility … we’ve actually got a couple of other new residents that have started doing the same routine,” Ms Willoughby said.
“She loves the gym, she goes to the gym two or three times a week.
“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.”
Mrs van der Linden was born in 1912 in the Netherlands and is also believed to be the oldest-known Dutch person in the world.
She migrated to Australia with her husband and young family in 1955, and held various jobs throughout her life, including working as a grape picker, nursing assistant and typist, and clerical assistant.
She has four children, 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grand children.
Mrs van der Linden’s oldest daughter Mariella Hocking said living past 100 was not entirely uncommon in the family, but her mother was a standout in her immediate family.
“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,” Mrs Hocking said.
Since retiring, Mrs van der Linden says she likes to spend time with family over a “simple meal” and socialise with friends.
As well as keeping active, she said the other key to a long life was to “be happy with yourself and be content with what life gives you”.
“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,” she said.
And, she added, “keep moving, don’t sit still.”