Joan Rafferty, who is 102 years young, knows some of the secrets to a long and happy life: “It’s the stairs – I don’t know whether to commend them or condemn them!” she quips.

She still enjoys living in the sunny Lane Cove apartment which has been home for 46 years.

“I’ve been independent all my life,” says Joan, “So I’m trying not to change that now.”

Joan says she’s blessed to have help from “a wonderful lot of nieces and nephews” and enjoys Meals on Wheels  dinners delivered by Sydney Community Services volunteers most nights of the week.  At times she has also called on the SCS visiting podiatry service and community nurses who have tended to an injury after a fall.

“The community nurses who come here are so good – very gentle and kind,” she told me.

Luckily Joan has not had to rely on SCS nurses very often. It’s the younger generation of relatives who help her manage life’s paperwork such as bills and also her entertainment – audiobooks  they download onto Joan’s Kindle reader or recordings of her favourite TV programs. A stack of audiobooks, delivered by Lane Cove Library, add to her choices. Lately she has been hooked on the audio version of The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society.  Joan keeps up to the minute with current affairs by watching at least one nightly news bulletin plus ABC’s Q&A and SBS’s Insight program.

Originally from near Collarenebri, NSW, the Rafferty family moved to Moree for education for their seven children. Joan then studied nursing including midwifery, and nursed for many years in the country around Moree and at Royal North Shore but never married.

“The girls – my nieces – say that’s the other secret:  not having a husband!”