Claudia Spencer, 98 years young, is a portrait of good health to the amazement of many, including her physician of the last 10 years, Dr. Barbara Hannah, of Women’s Center Healthcare Physicians in Lincoln Park.
Spencer, born in Atlanta and raised in Indianapolis, is a retired medical assistant. She is the mother of two sons, ages 74 and 63, as well as several grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Although her family and neighbors check in on her, Spencer enjoys being independent and healthy.
At 98, she still drives her Cadillac and proudly shares that she’s never been in an accident. Spencer, whose friends call her Audrey, recently took some time to share some of her secrets to a long, healthy and happy life.
What do you attribute your healthy longevity to?
Spencer: We were taught you eat three meals a day and don’t eat anything in between unless you are going to eat fruit or juice. An old fashioned way of living, I guess. (Spencer is a vegetarian who has never eaten meat. She’s never drank nor smoked.)
Do you take any medicine?
Spencer: I take 80 milligrams of aspirin. I take Tylenol for arthritis pain. Other than that just a few herbal supplements such as garlic and turmeric. I’ve never had surgery or been in the hospital, other than to deliver my sons.
Do you have a life philosophy?
Spencer: I’d rather give than receive. I’m not envious of anything. I’m happy when people get what they want. I’m satisfied with what I have. We were taught to be humble and gracious and kind and considerate.
Are there others in your family that have lived a long life?
Spencer: My mother lived to be 80. My siblings were all in their late 80s and 90s when they passed. There were eight of us.
What are some of your daily habits that you think have helped you stay healthy all these years?
Spencer: I used to walk (about four miles) every day. Sometimes I go out in the backyard and walk back and forth and take 10 deep breaths. I sleep with the window cracked open because I love the fresh air, no matter what season it is. I just enjoy life and I love people.
What are some of your hobbies?
Spencer: The only TV that I really watch is Channel 56, “Animal Planet” and nature shows. I don’t really watch the news other than for the weather because its just too negative. I go to church regularly. I used to sing in the choir and feed the homeless. I clean my own house and I love to knit and read.
What advice do you give to younger people?
Spencer: Stay out of trouble and enjoy life. Life is so short, isn’t it?
(Dr. Barbara Hannah is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist. For more information about the Women’s Center Healthcare Physicians in Lincoln Park, go to www.drhannahswomenscenter.com.)