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What’s the secret to a long, happy and healthy life?

Brandon Thorsness, administrator at Chippewa Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation in Chippewa Falls, doesn’t have one specific answer. In talking to the 68 manor residents who celebrated 90-and-older birthdays Friday, he has heard a lot of good ideas.

“Some people swear by a glass of alcohol a day, some say no alcohol, some say getting good sleep and some say exercise,” Thorsness said. “But we hear a lot of people say a lot of laughter.”

There was plenty of laughter to be had as residents and their families celebrated each of the residents, honoring them with a card and a carnation, and of course, birthday cake. Thorsness said based on last year’s large crowd, they ordered an extra cake this year. But they went through the extra cake pretty quickly, too.

All in all, the manor celebrated around 6,400 years of life.

Lifelong Chippewa Falls resident Elaine Fort joined the club Friday, as she celebrated her 90th birthday July 5, 2016.

‘My secret is to remain positive, enjoy your family and stay active,” Fort said.

As long as she could, Fort was an active swimmer, did yoga and walked wherever she could. She also credits spending her winters in Florida as helping her age well.

Her daughter, Linda Salow, added one other piece of advice: “You have to adapt to change.”

It’s true, Fort has seen a lot change in the last 90 years. She worked as assistant deputy county clerk for the courthouse for 20 years, and recalls using the first computer they ever had.

She’s learned how to work a dial telephone and a cell phone, and seen technology change quicker than she aged. But the people surrounding her Friday afternoon had stayed almost the same.

“I went all the way through high school and graduated with a lot of these people whose names they called off,” Fort said.

Salow said she was excited to be part of her mother and friends’ special day, and it was a constant reminder of how proud she is of the woman who raised her.

“Part of the reason she feels she’s been here is because she’s friendly and helps others,” Salow said. “If I can be just as compassionate as my mom, I’ll be happy.”

Across the manor’s filled dining room, another daughter celebrated her parent’s birthday.

Bill Dresdin, originally from Eau Claire, celebrated turning 100 on Jan. 11. Still a spunky and healthy man, Dresdin boasted of receiving more than 120 birthday cards and a family gathering on Jan. 7 that saw nearly 50 people.

Dresdin said his doctor gave him a little book about the secrets to a long life, which he read every day.

“You’ve gotta have your family, no stress and take everything one day at a time,” he said.

His daughter, Cathy, added his kindness and optimism probably helped.

“I feel very fortunate to still have dad as happy and healthy as he is,” she said. “A positive attitude goes a long way.”

It sure does. The Chippewa Manor celebrated over 6,400 years of life Friday afternoon, with resident Lorraine Thompson being honored as the oldest resident at 101 years old. Thompson was born Jan. 13, 1916, during the first term of the administration of President Woodrow Wilson.

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