With 210 years of living between them, Weary Dunlop Retirement Village’s two Joans have seen a lot in their lifetimes.
Born in Britain in 1912 just two days before the Titanic sank, and two years after King George V took the throne, 108-year-old Joan Bush is one of the oldest people in Victoria.
Her fellow Weary Dunlop resident, 102-year-old Joan Winum (pictured above), was born in Melbourne just weeks after the armistice was signed ending WWI in 1918.
For the Joans, International Day of Older Persons is like any other day.
But for those of us who have not yet gained the depth of wisdom and perspective that only comes with many decades of life experience, the day is an opportunity to ensure the voices of older people are heard and valued.
The secret to longevity is yet to be cracked, but listening to both women, the adage ‘laughter is the best medicine’ comes to mind.
Joan Bush has a simple answer for what brings her joy in life.
Thinking of her late husband.
“He was a charming young man,” she says with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye.
In the 1930s Joan spent three years living in India where her uncle was in charge of the British army base in Lucknow, south east of Delhi.
She met her late husband during WWII.
Joan’s son Richard says after his mother immigrated to Australia in 1946 she raised her family as well as volunteering with Meals on Wheels to offer food and compassion to older and vulnerable people.
Joan was a competent French speaker and taught herself how to play golf so she could join her husband, a “golf fanatic”, on the green, Richard says.
“She was a very generous lady.
“She has looked after her family and loved her children and grandchildren and she is now a great-grandmother to six great-grandchildren.”
Having travelled back to England every five years for most of her life, Joan says she would love to be able to visit her homeland again.
When told her ability to read without wearing glasses was “amazing”, Joan gave another wise chuckle.
“Joan’s remarkable age is a tribute to good health and good fortune,” Richard says.
"A sherry every night with her husband no doubt contributed to her good health."
Two years ago Joan Winum took us for a spin to mark her 100th birthday.
Having survived Diphtheria when she was four years old, Joan Winum says treating people with care is the greatest piece of advice she can offer to younger people.
“Be honest and caring, not only to one’s self, but to whatever family and close friends are about, you want to be able to converse with them,” she says.
“There used to be an epidemic every now and again of Diphtheria and I was the lucky one.
“There weren’t just magic medications then, it was good luck and goodnight I suppose.”
A life-long car enthusiast, Joan says the advancements of automatic transmission and travel have been the greatest technological developments she has witnessed in her lifetime.
“When I was a little girl if a little old puff, puff aeroplane went by the children would go mad. But now, well, what is an aeroplane?” she says.
“My father had a car when I was really young and that was really something. All of my friends’ fathers didn’t have a car, whereas now, nobody is without a car.”
Joan says she continues to learn new things all the time, including from COVID-19.
The pandemic has taught her not to take for granted “good health and the life we live”.
“I’m fortunate in living as long as I have.”