Wendy is 72 and works as a nurse twice a week. She says it keeps her sharp as she continues to get older. “I thought about retiring a few times, but I love seeing the patients.”
Wendy is 72 and works as a nurse twice a week. She says it keeps her sharp as she continues to get older. “I thought about retiring a few times, but I love seeing the patients.”

Wendy is 72 and grew up in Queens, New York and as she grew older she started moving further out into Long Island, where she lives now.

All her life she has worked as a nurse and mentioned that helping people was something she knew she was going to do from a very young age. To this day, Wendy is still working as a nurse. She goes in twice a week and loves it.

Growing up I always remembered Wendy. She is one of my grandma’s best friends and was always such a positive force whenever she was around our family. I don’t remember too much of the conversations we had when I was little, but her infectious and understanding energy has always stuck with me.

I did ask her if she was thinking of retiring and she mentioned she had thought about it a few times. But what really keeps her there is her love of helping patients plus her experience during the start of COVID-19. “I stayed home for a month and I was going crazy... how much can you read and crochet? I said this is a taste of retirement? I don’t think I can do this!”, she recalled recently.

This project was an excuse for us to chat and learn more about each other, which was something I didn’t realize I would enjoy so much. After our sessions I would leave her house feeling lighter. She told me how I didn’t need to have all of the answers yet and how things take time. But most importantly she said to not waste my time on people I don’t need. “I will say one thing aging has done for me, I used to be a people pleaser. Life is short, be with people you want to be with and don’t waste time on someone you don’t want to be around.”

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How does it feel to be 72?

"At this age, I can’t retrieve all the words as rapidly as before. No matter how many crosswords I do. But I like what I do, I am a nurse and that keeps my brain going and keeps me on my toes. I find that people who retire, who do not keep busy, have issues with memory and cognition."

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What do you look forward to?

"I look forward to seeing the patients, I love hearing their stories. You find helping them and being there for them extremely rewarding. I am also really looking forward to maintaining my health and to traveling more. Ever since COVID-19 started it's been harder to get out and see the world."

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What is your biggest concern?

“I feel fulfilled, I am not done yet. I’m hoping that my health continues to stay well. I really try to take care of myself. My mom died very young from a heart attack, but stuff happens. You don’t know when your number is up, so I say to people, ‘Spend your money and live your life. Your money is not helping you in the bank!’”

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Life expectancy 2023

79.74
years
United States

About the photographer

Laura Oliverio

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Laura Oliverio is photo editor and photographer based in New York. In her personal projects, she blends documentary with art photography and focuses on themes of family and psychology.

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