Sisters who are well into their 100s share how they stay sharp

These sisters are aging on their terms

Sisters Shirley Hodes and Ruth Sweedler are both sharp as tacks even as they’re well into their 100s. The pair attribute their long lives to some simple activities.

Shirley Hodes, 106, and Ruth Sweedler, 103, are sharp as tacks and contribute their long living to simple activities.

Hodes, 106, lives in an independent living facility in North Carolina and says she doesn’t feel old, despite her age.

“I don’t feel old, that’s the truth,” she told CNBC. “I never did crossword puzzles, but I always did a lot of reading. That’s the best thing for your mind.”

Her sister, Ruth Sweedler, lives about 800 miles away in Connecticut, and proudly recounts how impressed her doctor is by her continued ability to be focused and present.

“My doctor loves to talk to me,” Sweedler said. “He’d say, ‘You’re amazing.’ And I’d say, ‘Because I’m old?’ And he’d say, ‘No! Because you’re sophisticated.’”

The lively sisters shared four tips to help maintain their sharp wits and brain activities by working, connecting with loved ones, continuing to learn and appreciating things around them. While the tips seem simple enough, there’s science to back up the sister’s advice.

“In nostalgia, older adults navigate the future by reflecting on the past. By doing so, they find safety in sources such as familiar patterns and coherence, continuity in the sense of self or relationships, and affectionate, close bonds,” explained Arizona PBS.

There are plenty of ways to keep your brain sharp as you age, and, as Sweedler noted, you don’t have to do crossword puzzles to achieve healthy brain activity. shares other ways to help improve memory and mental health as you age:

  • Trivia Nights
  • Volunteering
  • Art & Crafts: creating cards, poems, etc.
  • Learning a new language
  • Thinking games like chess and bingo
  • Going out with friends/social events
  • Reading
  • Video games

“There may not be one secret to living to 100 years old, but there are small, incremental changes you can make throughout life that impact your long-term health,” said Cybele Pacheco, MD, a Geisinger family medicine physician.