My centenarian grandmother's longevity and lifestyle tips included keeping up with technology, a bustling social life, and gossip

  • My grandmother lived to the age of 100.

  • Her active social life and adaptability to technology played key roles in her longevity.

  • She was also adventurous and had diverse interests.

My grandmother wasn't your average centenarian. Hers was a life of many chapters: farm wife, working mom, doting grandma (and great-grandma!), world traveler, and the social butterfly of her retirement home.

Born in 1920, she witnessed incredible change over her lifetime — the Great Depression, World War II, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the internet, and even a pandemic. Through it all, she kept her humor, wit, and good health.

Here are a few things I truly believe helped her live a long and happy life, many of which might surprise you.

She kept up with technology

My grandma loved to read and was in her 70s when she made the switch from paper books to a Kindle. At 77, she embraced email and transitioned her lifelong penpal habit to the digital sphere, staying connected with her vast network of friends and loved ones on a daily basis.

Then, in her 80s, with her family scattered across the country, she became a Skype whiz even before video calls became ubiquitous. For a woman who grew up without indoor plumbing, her ability to adapt to new technology was nothing short of miraculous — and also one of the things that kept her feeling relevant and connected as she aged.

Caitlin Weaver's grandmother reading at the beach.
Caitlin Weaver's grandmother loved reading.Courtesy Caitlin Weaver

She was very social — and loved to gossip

No one loved gossip more than my grandmother. She was known for her (mostly) friendly curiosity and had no problem asking highly personal questions. If you had a problem, she also made it her problem, and she'd enlist whoever she thought might be able to help, whether you wanted her to or not.

Her genuine interest in everyone made her the social hub of her retirement home. Even the nurses and cleaning staff found their way to her room to spill the tea and get updates on who seemed down because their family hadn't visited, or who was hogging the jigsaw puzzle in the common area.

She was always learning new things and had diverse interests

Her natural curiosity about others made her a magnet for new friends, and her diverse interests made her fun to be around. She read the paper cover to cover each morning, and every few weeks, a letter from her would arrive in my mailbox, complete with a newspaper clipping and a little note: "This made me think of you."

When she moved closer to my parents, her old friends still made the hourlong trek to visit, and she quickly built a new circle of friends at her assisted living facility.

She traveled and embraced new adventures

The first half of her life revolved around raising three kids and helping run the family farm. Then a good part of the second half was dedicated to caring for my grandfather, who had polio. But after he died, she embraced new experiences with open arms. She bought her first-ever swimsuit for a trip to Hawaii and even ventured overseas to Europe for the first time. She also made her very first best friend at the sprightly age of 92, something she confessed she never had time for before among all her caregiving duties.

Caitlin Weaver's grandmother in Mexico.
Caitlin Weaver's grandmother loved traveling.Courtesy Caitlin Weaver

When the time came to celebrate her 100th birthday she was so popular we had to limit the guest list. Then, several months later, she passed peacefully in her sleep, having sent me an email just days before — a testament to her constant connection and engagement. Even though it's now been over three years, she remains my daily inspiration for a life well-lived.

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