Tuesday, April 4, 2017

110 and Counting!

 You meet a lot of interesting people in an assisted living home. My mother-in-law graced one for over five years. A lot of people think these places sad–old people everywhere.

But there is another side. Initially against the move, most folks end up enjoying life in their new home.


A major reason is social interaction. Sidelined at home because of physical problems, unable to drive, poor weather preventing the weak and unstable from venturing outdoors, seniors become bored and depressed, wallowing in aches, pains and ailments because there is nothing to do but dwell on their problems.

Not confined to what is viewed on a TV screen, a facility is often more cheerful than an isolated apartment or house. Residents become part of a community offering a variety of activities and people to communicate with, trips to local places such as the supermarket, library, and bank, restaurants, shows and tourist attractions. An outing to the beach, a short van ride, and hanging out on the boardwalk is a favorite warm weather destination at my MIL’s place.  

Residents are served three meals a day in a lovely dining room. Medical care is consistent and pro-active. Health issues are taken care of before becoming a catastrophe. I realize all homes are not high quality, but many are.

Why is this topic on my mind?

Helen Turner, a woman I got to know at my MIL’s assisted living facility, marked a special birthday, and the local newspaper highlighted her celebration and her life.

Helen turned 110 on April 1st.

Helen uses a walker and has some eye problems, but her eyesight is good enough to knit every day. And her mind is ‘all there’.

Helen and many others are living a long time nowadays. How many of my friends and family will celebrate 100 years of living?

Should I live a century, I have one-third of my life ahead of me. An overwhelming thought.

As long as I am fairly healthy – mind and body working well enough so I can take care of myself – living another three plus decades is not a bad idea. For instance I will probably never finish the constantly growing list of books I want to read. Or articles I want to write. Or places I want to visit…

Yet it is not just about the quantity of time. Quality counts. Mae West said it best:

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

The topic also brings to mind a TV series about two women of a certain age played by fabulous actresses Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The show: Grace and Frankie (Netflix). The women play young 70-ish women. In real life Jane Fonda is 79 and Lily Tomlin is 77.

Talk about role models.

On the other hand I am not into face-lifts or cosmetic surgery. I remember Jane Fonda’s exercise tapes – “feel the burn” – but not in a million years and hours of exercise would I ever have a Jane-like figure.

But I admire the spunk and energy these two women project.

I must learn to be satisfied with the me in the mirror.

Helen Turner enjoyed her life – growing up on a farm, a teaching career spanning 37 years, marriage and children, travel. 
Her slogan: Have you hugged anybody today? 
And Helen's recipe for successful aging, “Work through things. Don’t let them bother you.”

Hub and me at 103??


  1. Love this! Sharing Helen with our SPEAKING OF "OLD" group on Facebook. What an inspiration!

    1. Helen is a great lady. Old in age, but young at heart.

  2. One third of your life is left, what a great outlook!

  3. My FIL lives at the California Veteran Home and he loves it. He will be 91 this May and they keep him busy. It helps that his son (my husband) works there and our son works there and our daughter volunteers. My husband a veteran also,keeps telling me we are eligible to reside there. No No, NOT YET!!! Maybe in 15-20 years.

    1. I feel the same way - someday it might be nice to be served three meals a day and not clean or do laundry, but hopefully that time is many, many years away.

  4. My mother in law will celebrate 107 next Monday, Passover eve. She too is lucid, walks with a walker can see some, can hear less. She lives in a home like the one you described, in a kibbutz, her kibbutz that she helped found, in northern Israel. She has had a long and interesting life, starting in Pinsk then Poland, coming to Israel as a pioneer in the '30's and founding a kibbutz, losing a daughter to Diphtheria before immunizations, being extremely active both physically and mentally.

    1. She must have fascinating stories to tell. It is such a blessing to live so long and still have your faculties.

  5. Glad your MIL and other lady you mention enjoy life in Asst. Living and they can be a good setting for many people. Having spent the past thirty plus years providing rehab services in a variety of medical settings including Asst. Living i would caution they're not all as inviting as you describe. But then those of us who choose to live alone in our homes aren't all like the stereotype lonely recluse you describe either. ;-)..

    People really need to determine what sort of setting best suits them with some quite well-suited to the regimen in group housing, but others may not thrive as well there. Really does come down to the individual and what that person's needs are. How independent minded and experienced a person is has some bearing, too. The age at which someone is when they enter, how social they are, can matter. Some will pretty much isolate themselves even there as my friends father did. A 90+'relarivevwas moved by family which she agreed to after happily living in one in another state. Sensory issues with worsening hearing and now vision has made integration into new place difficult in her extremely nice upscale apt. -- residents have their friends and since didn't know her when she was more able just have little patience getting to know her. Primary activities are not what interest her as she cares about what's going on in the world. So all kinds of cultures in facilities with social cliques, factions and sects. Really need to find out all you can about a facility/community, meeting with residents if possible before moving in -- in casual gatherings some have to attract new residents. Go to these more than once so really get to form a better view.

    1. Your insights are so important; finding the right 'fit' can make all the difference. When looking for a place for my MIL the differences in everything from atmosphere, residents appearance, staff cordiality, etc. varied greatly. And unfortunately some places fall short in too many areas.