Grandma knows best: Local 90-year-old shares tips for a happy, healthy life

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According to a 2013 report from the Center for Disease Control, Utah is home to some of the healthiest seniors in the nation. Utah ranks No. 9 in nationwide life expectancy and Utah seniors have an average of 15 years of healthy life beyond age 65.

For 90-year-old Ora Mae Hyatt of Orem, health and happiness go hand-in-hand. Her happiness, she says, comes from her husband and their 10 children, 54 grandchildren and 105 great-grandchildren, who she keeps track of with a chart on her fridge. And her health? She keeps it in check by doing a few simple things that keep her feeling her best every day. Here are Hyatt’s secrets to health and happiness at any age:

Ora Mae Hyatt will celebrate her 91st birthday on October 22. With 69 years of marriage, 10 children, 54 grandchildren and 105 great-grandchildren under her belt, Hyatt is wise beyond our years. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Hyatt)

Ora Mae Hyatt will celebrate her 91st birthday on October 22. With 69 years of marriage, 10 children, 54 grandchildren and 105 great-grandchildren, Hyatt is wise beyond our years. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Hyatt)

 

 1. Follow a daily routine that works for you

For Hyatt, that means starting the day by drinking two glasses of water, which she calls “taking a shower on the inside.” Then, she takes a 1-mile walk. Hyatt also spends her days taking piano lessons, (it’s never too late!) sewing and quilting. “I think it’s good to make a schedule of how you want to spend your time today, tomorrow and the rest of the week,” Hyatt said.

2. Eat healthy foods 

“I have developed a love for fruits, vegetables and grains and a dislike for carbonated drinks,” Hyatt said. She also makes sure to drink the recommended eight glasses of water every day.

3. Set goals

“I think we need to set goals both for the future and also short-term goals to help us reach the big one,” Hyatt said. When she was young, Hyatt wanted to be an air stewardess, but there was a regulation that stewardesses could not weigh more than 125 pounds. Once she made up her mind to reach her goal of becoming a stewardess, it was easy to say no to the candy bars that tempted her. “I asked myself, do I want to be a stewardess or have that sweet taste in my mouth from the candy bar which is gone in a few minutes? Anyone who wants to achieve a goal has to have self-control and work towards it,” Hyatt said. “It doesn’t just happen.”

4.  Decide to be happy

“If someone hurts your feelings, you can respond in either way you choose,” Hyatt said. “You can reply in anger, then you feel miserable, or you can ignore what hurts you and fill your mind with pleasant thoughts about those who love you. It’s your choice.”

5. Take the glass-half-full approach

“I think we need to be optimistic,” Hyatt said. “Smile at people you pass and look for the things that are beautiful. Look for the good traits in people instead of their faults.”

 

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Ora Mae Hyatt met her husband, Edmond Preston Hyatt, while serving as a nurse during World War II. The Hyatts will celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary in February. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Hyatt)

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Kim calls Utah Valley home, but she spent her high school years in Australia, where she learned to drive on the other side of the road and tolerate Vegemite. Since earning an English degree at BYU, Kimberly has worked for Covenant Communications, Utah Valley Magazine, Daily Herald and Eat My Words. When she isn't writing, Kim loves traveling, teaching Pilates, and spending time with her husband and three children. Read more from Kim at talkingwordy.com.

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