Nashoba Park Centenarians Share Their Tips for a Long, Happy Life

Barbara Eliades, 102, resides at Nashoba Park Assisted Living in Ayer.

AYER, MA – It’s the question we’re always asking: what’s the secret to living a long (and happy) life? Experts all agree on the basics, such as eating well and staying active, but what is the key to truly thriving in late adulthood? Recently, three charming centenarians who live at Nashoba Park Assisted Living in Ayer shared their thoughts on life, happiness, and how to feel young.

For Barbara Eliades, who celebrated her 102nd birthday in November, the secret to a long, happy life has been to surround herself with loved ones and keep busy at every age. A devoted wife and mother, Barbara enjoyed working on her family farm and has knit more than 125 sweaters.  She will happily tell you that the most memorable moment of her life was meeting her husband at the fair. “I liked him the minute we met,” she says with a smile. “When he offered to give me a ride home, I gave him the wrong address so we could be in the car longer.” 

When asked what advice she would give her younger self, Barbara wanted to stress the importance of always working hard and caring for others. She believes that one of the best ways to feel young is to spend time with those younger than you and listen to their perspectives and stories. 

Genevieve Kacmarczyk, who celebrated her 104th birthday this past December surrounded by her nieces and nephews and all of her friends at Nashoba Park, offered very practical advice for living past 100: “Don’t smoke, don’t drink, be good to everyone, and do the best you can while God is keeping you.”

A graduate of the University of Vermont, accomplished chemist, and former Funeral Home Director in Shirley, Genevieve is an inspiring woman who has hand-written seven journals detailing her family history to gift to her nieces. When asked about a moment of her own history she would like to share, Genevieve recounts the very first time she saw a car.

 “I didn’t know what kind of machine it was,” she says of the vehicle, which her father bought as a surprise. “That was the first car I had ever seen and I had never gotten in one. I think I got in backwards!” Her family’s first ride in the car wasn’t up the block, either. “We were going to surprise my uncle in Detroit,” Genevieve recalls.

Genevieve also has a special connection to her current home that she enjoys sharing. Nashoba Park is a renovation of the former Community Memorial Hospital, built in 1928, where Genevive worked for many years running the laboratory. When asked how she feels about living in the building where she used to work, Genevieve smiles. “I love it here,” she says.

Constance Valley, or “Connie” as she’s known to her family and friends, celebrated her 101st birthday in June. Having grown up on a farm, Connie values hard work and family. She worked as a cashier and bookkeeper for the Canteen Corporation of America before her retirement. 

Her advice to living a long, happy life is simple: “take walks and get your work done so that you can play.”

Nashoba Park Assisted Living is a non-profit Volunteers of America Massachusetts Senior Community located in Ayer, MA. For more information on Nashoba Park, please visit