In a recent conversation here at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging, we asked Andres Magaoay about his secrets to successful aging. "You have to accept that your body might fail you at some point as you age. But your mind can still be resilient," said Mr. Magaoay.
At ninety-five, he is still living independently in his house in National City, California, keeping in touch with his loved ones—his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Mr. Magaoay tries not to look at aging negatively; instead, he looks at it in terms of what you can gain: more time for your family and wisdom. "Even as we experience adversity or loss as we age and our physical health declines, it is important to remember that we continue to develop in terms of how we view the world and that the mind can lead the body," said Mr. Magaoay.
Born in the '20s in the Philippines, the second youngest of seven siblings, Mr. Magaoay attended college in Manilla and graduated with a bachelor of arts. After receiving his diploma, he embarked on a career as a public-school teacher. He was devoted to his students sharing with them his knowledge of history, arithmetic, and arts. Busy at school during the days, Mr. Magaoay reserved evenings and nights for continuing his education—he was studying to become a dentist. After graduating with his doctorate in dentistry, he married the love of his life and had six kids. For years, he kept his professional routine that consisted of teaching during the day and seeing patients in his private clinic in the evenings.
The family immigrated to the United States and settled in San Diego in 1971. Even though this move changed a lot, the priorities have never changed for Mr. Magaoay. He again has chosen to contribute to the society and public health and enjoyed a seventeen-year career as a health counselor with the San Diego County working in the area of addiction. He was always active in his community and has been awarded several awards for his public service in National City.
Since retiring, Mr. Magaoay has pursued a wide variety of interests that keep him busy. One of the main advantages of being retired for Mr. Magaoay was that he had all day to spend in his garden weeding flowerbeds, and watering and tending to a large collection of beautiful plants. Gardening was not only rewarding him with better physical health, fresh flowers, and a sense of connection to nature, but also was very beneficial to his family. Mr. Magaoay has taken care of his children's gardens from designing the landscape to maintenance and replanting. Some flowers and plants would travel from one of his children's gardens to another, and many of them started as a seed in their family house in National City.
Mr. Magaoay credits his successful aging to his genes but also following certain routines. He exercises regularly, walks every day, and is settled into a healthy and balanced diet that increases his energy and quality of life. He has never smoked or drank alcohol, and only started to drink wine socially three years ago with his grandchildren. He stays socially active being in touch with his family and prides himself on attending all their activities.
A firm believer in the power of learning and education, he makes it a point to remind all of his family to pursue more education, which is evident in his living room collection of all his kids' and grandkids' diplomas, certificates, and recognitions. The collection takes up entire walls and keeps growing.
And if he has some free time in his busy schedule, you will find him at a Padres baseball game with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren!