“It’s really important to listen to your curiosity and head for it, because that’s really what it’s all about.” — Craig Zobelein of Thousand Oaks, retired Hughes aerospace engineer
At 65 years old, after working as a stay-at-home mom raising three children and building a marriage of 44 years, Nina Sloan Rubin of Ventura went into business for herself for the first time, to stay busy and sustain her happiness as she continues to thrive in her golden years.
Today, the native of Queens, New York, with six grandchildren is the chapter director of a national women’s friendship group called the Blue Thong Society and the co-owner of her husband’s art business. She also works from home as a social marketer for a “live clean” company.
She believes the biggest misconception about the senior population is “that we are old,” but the truth is “you are only as old as you feel . . . I feel younger than I did decades ago.” Her current business endeavors are part of her goal toward “being financially set for the golden years, and staying healthy to enjoy them. My advice is, do not stop living just because the calendar says you are a senior. Keep moving, eating healthfully, meet with a good financial person to understand your options.” Additionally, as the owner of two rescued mixed-breed terriers: “Be a parent of a fur baby. We all need unconditional love.”
Rubin is but one shining example of older adults in Ventura County who are thriving. Craig Zobelein, for instance, pursued seven careers after he retired as a Hughes aerospace engineer. A resident of University Village in Thousand Oaks, Zobelein is one of several seniors featured in the book, A Village of Knowledge, in which Simi Valley author Virginia Gean highlights their lives.
“After a prolific career as an astrospace engineer at Hughes with a lunar surveyor that still is on the moon today resting, he retired at age 40 and proceeded to have seven additional careers such as teaching, working as a park ranger, CEO of a family business, private detective, dancing and composing music,” Gean said of Zobelein during a book signing in December at University Village, a retirement community, where several people featured in her book were in attendance to answer questions from the audience.
Gean noted that one of “the most profound” things Zobelein mentioned during her interview with him for the book was: “He knew at age 10 that he did not want any debt, no mortgage, no credit cards, by the time he would be 40 years old.”
“I was amazed at his finance acumen at such a young age,” Gean said. “He went on to explain by having no debt at age 40, he then could create a life full of careers that he could do without worrying about the debt, and how he’s going . . . to pursue his passions.”
Zobelein told the audience, “All of these careers that I had, I didn’t set out to be a successful management person at all. That wasn’t the plan in my life. I did want to be debt-free at 40 years old, which I accomplished. I was fortunate because . . . I had a tight-wad for a father. But he was wonderful in making me realize the meaning of life and what’s important.”
Zobelein emphasized that “you don’t go into your careers just for money, that’s not the point. You have something inside of you that you want to release.” In his case, “I was just excited, curious about the world and what it had to offer. That’s one of the reasons why I had so many diverse careers.” With every single career, “I left at my own accord to achieve something new, something different that I was curious about. I encourage all of you, at any age . . . It’s really important to listen to your curiosity and head for it, because that’s really what it’s all about.”
The aging population of Ventura County is expected to triple over the next 20 years, said Patricia Jones of Thousand Oaks, co-owner of Home Helpers Home Care along with her husband, George.
For more than a decade, the couple has helped more than 800 families with many conditions, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure, liver disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s and heart disease. They also help quadriplegics, stroke victims, cancer victims and fall victims.
“Getting prepared ahead of time will make the elder care process easier to navigate,” Jones said. “Don’t wait until a crisis happens to address the issue.”
“Add years lived to your life”
The biggest factor in the decline in physical capacity with age is the level of physical activity; and although many physiological factors decline with age, up to 50 percent of this decline is due to de-conditioning rather than aging, said Dr. Annthea Fenwick, former exercise physiologist and health educator at the County of Ventura, and a former exercise physiologist at the Pierpont Racquet Club in Ventura.
She noted that after the age of 50, statistically, one has a better survival rate from cancer than a fall.
“Most people would choose a fall over cancer if they had to make that horrendous choice, but statistics and research say a person is more likely to not survive the fall rather than cancer,” said Fenwick, CEO and co-founder of Achieving Fitness After 50.
“This statistic is shocking,” Dr. Fenwick emphasized. “Surviving a fall is primarily a strength factor. The stronger you are, the better your balance, coordination, and thereby minimizing major injury.”
Unfortunately, she said, exercising and being strong has decreased in the over-50 population. “Ninety-nine percent of ages 50-plus say that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important. But only 16 percent of them actually utilize fitness and exercise.”
The good news is that getting stronger and having a responsible strength-training program, individual and specific to your needs, “will literally add years lived to your life.”
“We can’t necessarily or always avoid cancer, but we can absolutely affect the chances of a fall,” said Dr. Fenwick, adding that the muscles of older men and women who have exercised for decades are indistinguishable in many ways from those of healthy 25-year-olds.
She added that “we can’t begin to change until we admit we, and no one but us, can control the quality of our own lives.”
“The calculus of aging offers us two options: We can live a shorter life with more years of disability, or we can live the longest possible life with the fewest bad years,” Dr. Fenwick said. “As centenarians have shown, the choice is largely up to us. Learn how to lift weights, make healthy choices for your nutrition, engage your mind, incorporate daily stretches and have an attitude of gratitude.”
Golden Future 50+ Senior Expo
Now in its eighth year, the Golden Future 50+ Senior Expo will feature aging seminars led by experts, live entertainment, health and wellness screenings, job and volunteer opportunities for older adults and more. The free event will take place on March 2 at the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center.
“We are the largest senior-focused event in Ventura County,” said Toyia Moore Borrelli of Thousand Oaks, event director.
Sixty vendors will be on site with a range of aging products and services, such as health care, veterans’ benefits, Medicare, social security, home health care, retirement planning and recreational activities. Additional offerings include free tote bags with goodies for attendees, bingo with cash prizes, pet adoptions and DIY arts and crafts.
Patricia and George Jones will be in attendance as vendors sharing information about Home Helpers Home Care, which provides professionally trained home care aides, allowing clients to live at home while being as independent as possible. These aides help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, medication reminders, meal preparation, personal care, transportation, shopping and running errands.
“In other words, the everyday living tasks we take for granted, our home care aides are there to make our patients lives easier,” said Patricia Jones, noting that they are the first home care company to be licensed in the region under the Home Care Consumer Protection Act in the State of California. “The law also mandates that all home care aides be registered with the state, pass a rigorous background check through the FBI and DOJ, and be thoroughly screened, trained and supervised.”
Other vendors in attendance will include Nimit Vidyalankar of Genexe Health, which offers affordable access to genetic screening services.
The genes we are born with may contribute to our risk of developing certain types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, colorectal and prostate cancer, Vidyalankar explained.
“If you have a family history of cancer, a hereditary cancer screening test can help you to understand your risk for disease,” Vidyalankar said. “Everyone has some risk of developing cancer, and in most cases the disease develops by chance. However, some people are genetically predisposed to developing certain types of cancer. These people have a higher risk of developing the disease than those in the general population.”
On March 2, Genexe Health will be educating and screening individuals who qualify. This involves no blood work or needles; rather, “a simple intake and non-invasive mouth swab.”
“The big pharma business’ best interest is not the lives of individuals, in my opinion,” Vidyalankar further emphasized. “As long as people are ill, they make money. Our vision is to ensure everyone has access affordable access to genetic screening services.”
Representatives from Club Pilates Camarillo will also be at the expo offering a free introductory class and a chance to win a free month’s membership for those who enter their raffle.
“Our instructors go through 500-plus hours of training and our focus is always on proper form and member safety,” Sheri Courtemanche said. “Whatever your lifestyle or goals, incorporating pilates into your routine will help improve your life.”
She added that Club Pilates Camarillo has members well into their 70s and 80s.
“Pilates meets you where you’re at and allows you to achieve your goals as quickly or as slowly as you want,” Courtemanche said. “It is very low impact, yet provides a full-body workout that helps strengthen your core, align and lengthen your body and promote a sense of overall well-being.”
“Aging is insidious”
For those 50 and older, Dr. Fenwick said, “If you don’t change your habits of not exercising and eating healthier, you will die and die young . . . if you are terribly out of shape, overweight to the point of obesity and on too many meds.”
Additionally, “If you are eating processed foods or making fast foods your staple diet, you will have to face it — you either make changes or your health will continue to fail . . . and it will not get any easier. Being arrogant and believing aging will never affect us is just stupid thinking.”
“Aging is insidious,” she added, meaning we are faced with a hundred small decisions every week that determine the quality of our life years from now.
“How we handle these choices determines the quality of our life, and often the length as well,” Dr. Fenwick said. “The first day you avoid the steps and choose the escalator, or move to a house with no steps, because you find steps too challenging physically, is the day you decided to accept a lower quality of life now and in the future. If you want a quality life after 50, chase what challenges you the most. Yes, it is harder. Yes, you have earned the right to decide your own life, but you also have to understand that what challenges you the most is what will keep you alive the longest.”
Those who stay active tend to fair much better as they get older, Borrelli said. Also, human interactions are important for good health, well being and happiness.
“When we are alone or isolated we can get depressed; we as humans are at our best when we can share and connect with others,” she said. At the expo, “Our goal is to help facilitate long lasting connections between Ventura County baby boomers and seniors and local businesses and resources.”
The Golden Future 50+ Senior Expo will take place on Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center, 800 Hobson Way, Oxnard. Parking and admission are free. For more information, call 805-716-3303 or visit goldenfutureseniorexpo.com.