Walt Kaczmarek started getting tattoos when he was 80 years old. Four years later, he has dozens of illustrations on his body.

Kaczmarek first got ink to memorialize his late wife, Carolyn. Now he gets tattoos to mark special occasions.

He’s planning on adding to his canvas this summer for his grandchildren’s weddings and college graduations.

This exuberance for life is supported by Kaczmarek’s home, St. Joseph’s John Knox Village. Kaczmarek moved into the village’s independent living facility a year ago. John Knox also has assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

Kaczmarek participates in a “brain fit” program, in addition to fitness classes. He loves being able to safely walk outside and borrow books from the library. In addition, the 84-year-old loves the adventurous opportunities available. John Knox residents have gone indoor skydiving, on a hot air balloon ride and in a biplane. They take field trips and play Wii bowling. John Knox even has an on-site aviary.

This active aging is important. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health advocates say that during aging people should remain – or become – physically, socially and mentally active to boost their quality of life. “The word ‘active’ refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labor force,” WHO explains, in part.

George King lives an active life. He’s lived at John Knox for more than three years. “There are many activities … In addition to the library and things like that, I like to shoot pool,” King said.

Luella Rockway is proof that staying busy is beneficial. Rockway is 96 years old. She likes to start her days in the chapel and then see what activities are available in the afternoon.

“It’s one of the things that really make you feel better,” she said. “You look forward to doing things.”