Donna Jenkins knows how to throw a good party. In fact, her birthday celebration last year was attended by every single member of her extended family along with friends from far and near.
While their attendance was certainly because of their love and admiration for her, it might also be because she was turning 100 years old, an age less than 0.02 percent of Americans achieve, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Jenkins is a spry centenarian. Now 101, she loves to study genealogy, write the history of her life and visit with family — which includes three children, six grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Like most of us, she also likes to sleep.
When asked about her secret to a long and healthy life, she laughs and says, “Just keep breathing.” She does admit to doing her physical therapy exercises, but only because she’s told to, not because she wants to.
Her daughter, Kathy Manaole, however, will say that clean living — Jenkins abstained from alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes her entire life — may have played a role in her longevity. Her great attitude and joy for life couldn’t have hurt, either.
A lifelong devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jenkins was a secretary at the church headquarters and sang with the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir for several years, performing around the country.
She served her mission — a practice common in the Mormon Church when members dedicate a period of time to sharing their faith with others — in the Eastern states, acting as secretary for the mission president and performing in a musical broadcast show on Pennsylvania radio. She moved from her home state of Utah to San Diego in 1947 after marrying her late husband, Loskiel.
“We have at least five patients of 100 years old or more,” says Sharon Rudnick, manager of Sharp Senior Health Centers. “Donna, like the others in this group, is a delight to know and so full of positive spirit, knowledge and experience. She is an inspiration.”
Jenkins has been seeing Dr. Brian First at the Sharp Senior Health Center in Clairemont for over a year. The team at the center is dedicated to providing the specialized care to meet the unique needs of seniors like Donna. Their comprehensive outpatient program offers both medical and behavioral care as well as social services to ensure that patients can continue to live the healthy, independent lifestyles they enjoy.
“The centenarians like Donna who we have the honor of working with are such joys,” says Rudnick. “If you’re going to live to be 100 years old, you certainly want to be like them!”
Learn more about Sharp Senior Health Centers, located in downtown and Clairemont.