Sassy 100-year-old trades stocks online, still drives and gives viral life advice
She’s become a social media influencer, dishing out advice on Instagram.
A few days after she turns 100 in August, Mildred Kirschenbaum will be sailing towards Europe on a transatlantic cruise — her latest voyage to explore the world.
Life is also grand when she’s not traveling. She lives independently in a two-bedroom villa in Boca Raton, Florida — “I don’t have any bosses, yay,” she says of living on her own — still drives a car, works out in a gym, and trades stocks and options on her computer. (Her daughter calls her a “brilliant financial investor” who still manages her own portfolio.)
Kirschenbaum is also a social media influencer, dishing out viral life advice in her distinct New York accent on her daughter’s Instagram account.
“It’s attitude, attitude,” Kirschenbaum tells TODAY.com. “I enjoy every day.”
Sample tip: If you don’t like the food you ordered, get an extra dessert.
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She loves happy hour and socializing while sipping a vodka tonic with a slice of orange. When Kirschenbaum recently sat down next to “what I call a young man — 55 or so,” she simply struck up a conversation. “I said, ‘Look, I’m 99, I’m not looking to pick you up, but I like to talk to people,’” she recalls.
“She has no censor, she loves attention and she’s an extrovert. She’ll walk into the clubhouse, and it’s like the queen has arrived and this is her court,” Gayle Kirschenbaum, 68, tells TODAY.com about her mother.
“She lives life to the fullest. She is not riddled with fears.”
Gayle Kirschenbaum began posting videos of her mother’s life advice when she turned 99 and has since devoted her Instagram page entirely to their conversations after the clips went viral. She credits their appeal to her mother’s age and spunk — “She’s smart and she’s with it. She’s very inspiring.”
But their relationship was tense for many years. Gayle Kirschenbaum made it the subject of her 2015 documentary, “Look At Us Now, Mother!” and her TEDx Talk titled “No More Drama With Mama,” where she describes how she forgave her mom after decades of “relentless criticism.”
They now call each other best friends, talk several times a day and travel together. Cruising is their favorite form of vacationing.
Here are Mildred Kirschenbaum’s simple tips for healthy longevity:
When her cholesterol was a little high, she told her doctor she wanted to lower it with diet rather than with a statin and successfully reached her goal.
The only drugs she takes are blood pressure medication and a baby aspirin. Kirschenbaum says she’s never had cancer or heart disease, doesn’t have any health problems, and when she routinely goes to the doctor for a checkup, he says her blood work is better than his.
“I believe in science. I’m not anti-drugs … (but) you have to help yourself. I think that’s what keeps my inside healthier,” Kirschenbaum says.
Keep the body in good shape
Several times a week, Kirschenbaum goes to the gym and works out on a cardio machine for 20 minutes — “it keeps my legs going,” she says.
When it comes to her diet, she pretty much eats anything she wants, but has never been much of a sugar fan. She likes dark chocolate and drinks alcohol, but only socially.
Kirschenbaum expects nice things to happen to her, and they do. When she struck up that conversation with the man at the restaurant, she was surprised to find out he secretly paid for her meal when he left.
She “absolutely” enjoys people’s company and focuses on the positive despite heartbreak, such as losing her oldest son to cancer and her husband of 62 years to a stroke.
“I’m an optimist,” she says. “The world is full of pessimists.”
Kirschenbaum also advises people not to get angry at others in most situations. “It’s not worth it — they’re not worth it,” she notes. “If they’re worth my anger, then they’re worth my love. If it’s someone else, I don’t get angry. I just ignore them.”
Kirschenbaum owned a travel agency for 35 years and still loves to explore the world.
She’s shocked that some people stop trying new things when they turn 65 and retire. “They just make up their mind when they reach that age, ‘I won’t go anywhere or do anything,’” Kirschenbaum says incredulously.
“She’s a very adventurous person,” her daughter adds.
Keep up as life changes
In addition to her computer, the centenarian has an iPhone and iPad, and pays her bills online. She urges her peers to get comfortable with new technology and keep learning.
She still drives a car, “but I’m smart enough to limit it,” she says.
Pay attention to your looks
Gayle Kirschenbaum describes her mother as “quite the fashionista.”
“You have to put yourself together. That doesn’t mean you have to overdress with jewelry and things, just put yourself together,” Mildred Kirschenbaum says.
She supports people getting plastic surgery — she herself had a “mild” facelift years ago — but believes it’s now being overdone with faces pulled too tight.
For decades, the centenarian used to go to the hairdresser once a week to have her hair teased and sprayed to the point “it could withstand a hurricane,” her daughter says. The pandemic broke that habit.
“She’ll go for a haircut, but she does her own hair and she’s like a liberated woman,” Gayle Kirschenbaum notes.
“I learned how to do my own hair, and it doesn’t look as good as (at) the hairdresser, but I’m happy with it,” her mom adds.