Fifty years ago, only 1 person in every 67,000 reached the century mark and became centenarians. Today, approximately 1 person in 6,000 reaches their 100th birthday. In fact, they are the fastest growing segment of the worldwide population.
People in general are living longer. For example, the 2010 census showed a strong increase in the number of people aged 90-94 (up 30.2%) and those aged 95 to 99 (up 29.5%).
All of these trends are likely related to the changes in health care, changes as simple as caffeine used to delay Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as sophisticated technology to track vitals, exercise, and diet strategies. The positive aging trends are growing alongside wider and deeper medical needs. The longer people live, their need for care increases.
Here at Providence Life Services, we are honored to have 22 centenarians living throughout our various communities, and we’re honored to play even a small role in the life of this unique group of seniors. Wisdom, humor, history, and perseverance are just some of the gifts that these seniors can offer those of use blessed to know them.
For example, Margaret Simmons, who is 103, came with her family to the United States after enduring WWII in England. Her husband served in the British Air Force, and she took care of their 3 children. Her daughter Sheila Binghman recounted her mother’s plight.
“My twin brother and I were born during the war—we were actually born in my grandma’s house. And back then at night time, they had to pull the shades down because of the planes going over and bombs dropping.
“The air raid sirens would go off and she would have to pick up all 3 kids and run to the shelter,” says Sheila, daughter of 103-year-old Catherine, one of the Providence centenarians.
“The air raid sirens would go off and she would have to pick up all 3 kids and run to the shelter. She had it rough, with all the rationing and other challenges.”
But then her father moved them to Canada before getting to the United States, and once they were here, they continued to have a full life together.
“My dad got a job in Chicago and he got us an apartment in Harvey. Then they moved to Oak Forest. My mother was very outgoing – everybody liked her.”
Sheila thinks fondly of her parent’s marriage. “My dad was good to her. She got everything she wanted. The way he looked at it, she was deprived of so much in England and everything that happened over there, that anything she wanted, he was going to make sure she got.
“She liked to go to Florida. She loves the ocean. They went all over. They would go back to England every second or third year and stay for over a month.”
Another centenarian, Catherine Tarczon, was actually unaffected by the war. She doesn’t remember it having a big impact on her life, but she does have a lot of memories accumulated in her 101 years. One thing that she is extremely proud of is raising a happy family.
“Be good! Be honest. That’s what counts. You get further in life.” Advice from Caroline, one of our Providence centenarians.
“We had a girl’s baseball team and my husband was on the men’s baseball team and we were playing against each other. That’s how I met him. Then we had 3 children. Now I’ve got 9 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.”
Her favorite memories take place during Christmas time.
“We had a nice basement, so it was like a hall. We really had a Santa Claus come! He came and the children, they’d run!” she laughed at the thought.
Her favorite hobby is to play pinochle with her friends at the Saratoga Grove community, and to read the books her family gives her as gifts. She loves it when her son and daughter-in-law come to visit twice a week.
“Boy, was I lucky I had him. He’s the one who takes care of me. His wife washes my clothes for me. I’ve got the best daughter-in-law out there. She is.”
Some pieces of advice that Caroline offers:
“Be good! Be honest. That’s what counts. You get further in life.”
And she looks back at her life with satisfaction. “We were a good family, I was lucky. I love my life. I can’t complain.”
These are just two of our centenarians. We’re privileged to share a part in their story. We believe that our quality of care should match their longevity – from the short term to lifelong care, and from the minimal to extensive assistance.
If you’d like to hear more about our programs, and how we believe in enhancing the quality of life for all ages of our residents, we’d love to help. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out our communities here.