The secrets to aging gracefully

Written by Lungile Thamela

OurHealth spoke to three senior citizens from Mofolo North, Soweto to get their tips for staying healthy in their twilight years.

Lina Noyakhe Xukuzane, 86 years old:

As a young woman, Xukuzane worked as a university cleaner, which she says kept her busy and fit. Now retired, Xukuzane still gets physical exercise walking about two kilometeres to places within the community, like the clinic where she picks up her blood pressure medication. To stay healthy, she takes her medication, keeps her mind active and leads a healthy lifestyle.

“I do hand work, such as crocheting jerseys, and that keeps my brain working properly,” she said. “I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, and drink water.”

“I have never drunk alcohol in my life,” she adds.

Rachel Vuyelwa Mcetwya, 82 years old:

Before retiring, Mcetwya worked as an assistant nurse in a private doctor’s rooms. Even without a day job now, Mcetwya makes sure she wakes up early and keeps something of a routine.

“I still wake up early in the morning and do my housework such as cleaning, washing and cooking,” she said.  “I enjoy working as it keeps me exercising.”

Like Xukuzane, Mcetwya credits regular mental exercise – and a life-long healty lifestyle for keeping her fit in her old age.

“I sing in the church choir and I think of that as mental exercise,” she told OurHealth.  “I eat lots of vegetable and fruit, and drink water.”

“I never drink alcohol, except if it’s in medicine, and I never smoked,” Mcetwya said. “I have high blood pressure, but I take treatment for it and adhere to my treatment.”

Mofolo North senior citizen Rachel Vuyelwa Mcetywa sweeping her house.

Mofolo North senior citizen Rachel
Vuyelwa Mcetywa sweeping her house.

Foni Peter Ngwenya, 81 years old:

Ngwenya spent 60 years as a driver and continues to drive to this day, although these days he mostly just drives himself, he said. Like Xukuzane and Mcetwya, Ngwenya walks several kilometers daily around the community.

Once a smoker and now on medication to control high blood pressure, Ngwenya has quit smoking.  He makes sure to eat balanced meals and finds that working with the community’s young children helps keep him on the go.

“I eat a lot of fibre, like cooked and raw vegetables, and some fruit,” said Ngwenya, adding that he sometimes indulges in a little wine.

“At home I do a lot of housework and I participate in community activities,” he told OurHealth. “For instance, I am a part of Smile Givers, a non-profit organisation giving advice and teaching the young children – it keeps me mentally healthy.”


About the author

Lungile Thamela

Lungile Thamela is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Gauteng's Johannesburg Health District.