The Keys to Growing Old Well

30 May 2023

The Keys to Growing Old Well
Mrs Patricia Segal


Across the globe, people are fascinated and intrigued by centenarians – the group of incredible human beings that defy the odds and live to 100 and beyond.  Over the last 20 years, the number of Australians who were living to over 85 years of age has risen by 110%; an extraordinary increase and begs the question as to whether this trajectory will continue.

Sydney near-centenarian Mrs Patricia Segal is the hallmark of positive ageing. She is a participant in CHeBA’s Sydney Centenarian Study which explores the genetic and environmental determinants of extreme longevity and will be a guest panel member at Vivid Sydney’s special panel event – How to Grow Old Well and Try Not to Die.

Patricia is independent and lives in her own home. She considers herself a consistently happy person, enjoys seeing the lighter side of life and cooks her own meals. 

“I enjoy preparing my own meals. As far as I’m aware I’m the only one amongst any similar aged friends to do so.” With lunch regularly a smoked salmon and avocado sandwich, and dinner incorporating meat with red cabbage and sauerkraut, it is clear that Patricia maintains a very healthy diet. 

Patricia is also a very talented artist; a hobby she only took up in her 90s and something she has become very passionate about. 

On how other people view her age she is amused.  “I do find it funny,” she says. “People are always very surprised by my age. The most common thing I hear is ‘Amazing’! I would have said you were 75!”

I do view myself as a positive ager but I also just consider myself lucky. I sleep well, I don’t stress the small stuff and I’ve always kept myself healthy.

Mrs Patricia Segal

Co-Director of CHeBA, Professor Perminder Sachdev, says that older Australians are the fastest growing proportion of our population. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it is expected that there will be 50,000 centenarians by 2050 – a growth from just 4,279 in 2015. Worldwide it is anticipated that the number of centenarians will increase 15-fold to 2.2 million by 2050. 
Clearly, this is an exciting time to understand the parameters of exceptional longevity, and query what we can do within our own lives to push the envelope for ourselves and extend the lifespan beyond what is currently considered possible? 

On this query, Patricia is more thoughtful, and highly conscious of the fact that she wishes to never be a burden to her children.  

Recently for the first time I am becoming less functional in my legs. Lack of mobility is definitely something that concerns me about living to 100 and beyond

Mrs Patricia Segal

She is proud to have been involved in CHeBA’s Sydney Centenarian Study since February 2020, especially given there have been only a few population-based studies of centenarians and near-centenarians internationally despite the rapid ageing of our population. 

Patricia appreciates that her involvement in the Study will help CHeBA shed light on the determinants of successful ageing, both lifestyle and genetic, as well as help the researchers understand the health requirements of centenarians – an outcome that is obviously critical given the projections of an ageing population. 

The exclusive Vivid Sydney event, of which Professor Sachdev is also a panel member, will explore both the existential and pragmatic questions around growing old. 

Hosted by psychiatrist Associate Professor Neil Jeyasingam, this night also features: geriatrician and ageism expert Dr Lisa Mitchell; Professor Perminder Sachdev AM, Co-Director of the UNSW’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, and Dr Ruth Wilson, who completed her PhD on Jane Austen at 88 years old.

Proceeds will be donated to Wisdom-Connect, a charity dedicated to reducing loneliness in older people in Aged Care facilities.