“I’ll meet you in the bar,’’ she said. Not an unusual place to meet someone, except that this happened to be an 80-year-old woman. And the bar was smack dab in the center of the retirement home where she lived.
Selma, at 80, gets up each day and makes her own breakfast. She volunteers three days out of the week, sometimes four. She goes to church every Sunday, and. except for the one meal a day she has in the home’s dining room, she shops, cooks and cleans for herself. She lives in a place best described as a “retirement resort.”
“It’s really an apartment,” says Selma. “But I can walk down the hall for a card game or for dinner. It’s rather like a hotel.”
Senior citizens, it seems, have come a long way. Life these days no longer ends at 60. Or even 70. Things may start slowing down a bit, but many more options are available to senior citizens now than ever before. And life? Well, it’s just beginning.
Within the last ten years nursing home facilities have made an about-face and created resort apartments for older seniors. Some, like Three Fountains, have simply turned apartment complexes into retirement villages. Others are built to be luxury retirement resorts, such as Classic Residence by Hyatt and The Forum on Park Lane. Many offer the multi-level living concept: the senior begins in an apartment unit, smaller than a home but fairly independent. As he gets older he may move into assisted living, or be placed in the medical unit if he requires skilled nursing care. Sometimes a couple may move into a multi-level residence when only one partner needs assistance.
For those on limited incomes, attractive options abound: Grace Presbyterian Village opened in Dallas ten years ago, offering the multi-level living concept. And Golden Acres Home for the Jewish Aged was one of the first locations in Dallas to offer a variety of health and social care needs for the elderly. Most “senior only” housing offers tighter security and services such as meals and housekeeping.
At 82, Toni Citelli is an inspiration. She is active, vibrant and never stops moving. She is also legally blind. Toni has won the Disabled Volunteer Award for her hours at Walnut Place Nursing Home. She works with Cambodian refugees; she’s a peer counselor at Walnut Place and a member of RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program). Toni has also worked at the Central Library, led tours at the Degoyler Estate, and worked with the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind. She lives at Gatewood, an apartment residence for senior citizens, where she does her own cooking and cleaning.
“I never thought I’d live to enjoy my grandchildren,” says Toni.
Now, besides caring for her great-grandchildren, her life revolves around her volunteer work.
“My whole life is wrapped around volunteer work,” says Toni. “Know how I want to die? I want to dance with a nice guy, and then drop dead.”
WE HAVE HALF THE NATION’S INCOME
Financial institutions have discovered that senior citizens are prime depositors, and almost every aggressive bank now offers a special package for its “55 Plus” customers. The airlines, recognizing the millions of dollars seniors pump into the travel industry every year, offer seniors a myriad of discounts and other perks. In Dallas, restaurants and movie theaters, amusement parks and museums, department stores and fitness centers, and many other businesses offer seniors a discount. Senior citizens also enjoy certain tax exemptions, and recent studies indicate the “gray market” carries enormous financial power.
“The picture is clearly not bleak,” says Tom Fair-child, associate professor and director of the Center for Studies In Aging at the University of North Texas at Demon. “Only 12 percent of the elderly are living in poverty.”
Retirement communities are betting, says Fairchild, that they can create an environment to attract the financially stable senior. Major hotel chains, like Hyatt and Marriott, are getting into the senior residence picture. A recent study by Marriott Senior Living Services revealed that creative arts programs, recreation and fitness will not draw the elderly to a retirement community, But financial stability will. Financial stability, personal security, caring staff and quality of food were the top of the list. Also important: a non-institutional setting and available emergency care.
For those who desire to remain in their own homes, the challenge is developing housing, health and social services to help them remain at home. “They need help with indoor and outdoor maintenance,” says Fair-child. “Someone to fix the screen door.” He foresees an onslaught of home-health type services similar to the information resources available from a new Dallas company called Care Resources of the Southwest, or the newest concept, day care for adults.
ADULT DAY CARE
Elizabeth Perez lost her father in 1983.
“He just gave up on life.” she says. “He was not sick. He was ft and bored to death.”
So Elizabeth, who was studying to be an R.N. at the time, made a career change. She felt certain that if her father had a reason to live, a zest for life and “life after retirement.” he might have lived longer, so she researched and put together a day care center for adults called Scenario.
“We take people who are ambulatory or who need walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, whatever. We keep them walking, we keep them busy, we keep them smiling.” says Elizabeth. “Scenario is for people who fall in between the cracks. The research 1 did showed that something affordable was needed for those people who are not wealthy, but not eligible for Medicaid.”
Scenario is just one example of the many Adult Day Care options available for Dallas’ seniors.
At 65, James McClure represents the “young” senior. His mother is still alive at age 88. James is a good example of how many retired professionals Ms age are spending their time: he just returned from the national meeting of AARP in Orlando, Florida. When he’s not teaching, taking care of his Oak Cliff home, going to meetings or helping make life better for senior citizens, he’s in California visiting his two daughters.
This math teacher, school principal and civil rights leader for the U.S. Department of Education retired in 1986. He is a national and state member of AARP, on the board of directors of Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas, active in the Dallas Retired Teachers association and the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. He also works part-time teaching math at El Centra College.
Some Local Day Care
Baylor Mult Day
Health Cart Center
3500 Gaston Ate., 4th Floor
Doctors Nursing Center
Adult Day Care
9009 White Rock Tr.
Grand Prairie Townhall
Adult Day Health
506 SW 23rd St.
Mull Day Care
1111 Rockingham Rd.
Oak Cliff Tomhall
Health Care Center
226 E. 10th St.
Scenario Mull Day
Care Health Services
VOLUNTEERISM KNOWS NO AGE
“Retirement is not the end of the line,” says Dr. Herb Shore, recently retired as the administrator of Golden Acres, the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged, and the man credited with having the most impact on improving the quality of nursing homes in the U.S. and training people to enter the field. “The only time age matters is if you’re cheese.”
It’s a myth, says Shore, that people retire and then become ill. Given the option, most people prefer to retire and still keep on working. For Shore, retirement meant having the time to do the things he didn’t have time to do during his employment years. Instead of working 80 hours a week, he now works 30 or 40.
Other seniors, like Shore, find that retirement is the time to “give back to the community” in terms of career skills and care. At Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas (S.C.G.D.), more than 3000 retirees are actively involved in volunteer work. Many senior volunteers work in hospitals and nursing homes; tutor in low income areas and DISD schools; and campaign for their political candidates.
“The seniors in Dallas are extremely active,” says Kim Landee, public education director for S.C.G.D. “Last year, our volunteers contributed more than 412,000 hours of service. Computed into dollars, if we hired people at minimum wage for these hours, the cost would be more than a million dollars. And this year, we’ll probably have even more hours.”
Dallas seniors, says Landee, regard retirement as a time to quit working for wages, but not necessarily a time to quit working.
Like Phil and Becky Fruman. Phil is 64.
“I married a child bride,1’ says Phil of his 44-year-old spouse. But both find the time and the energy to care for new infants in their home-infants who are given up for adoption. Phil and Becky take care of the infants until the legal processes are complete and the babies are placed with parents. The process usually takes about 6 weeks, but once the Frumans had an infant for 6 months.
“My wife works three days a week.” says Phil, “and I volunteer 3. maybe 4 days a week.”
Phil, a grandfather, is committed to the Meals on Wheels program, and he usually has an infant in tow. Phil, who confesses that he just loves to hug babies, also volunteers at a shelter for children of the homeless called Alcove.
“I just love to go down there and hold those babies,” he says. “Sure, the care is a lot of work. Once we had two at home at the same time. But it has given us a lot of pleasure.”
THE PRICE OF LONGEVITY
“Growing old can be fun or it can be miserable,” says Carolyn Corbin, noted author, lecturer and public speaker. “But one thing’s for sure.. . it’s not inexpensive.”
For the last 15 years Carolyn has been stressing pre-retirement financial planning in her lectures across the country. Her best-selling book, “Strategies 2000,” deals with future changes in our lives, the influence of the baby boomers and what we all need to do to survive retirement.
“This is the Golden Age of retirement,” says Dallas-based Corbin. “55 plussers in 1990 are reaping the benefits of Medicare, corporate retirement programs and the tail end of America’s golden economy of the 1960s and 70s. Back then, there wasn’t a trade deficit, homes were affordable and inflation meant what happened when you blew up a balloon.”
But times are changing.
Corbin says the baby boomers, unlike their parents, will have to provide more for themselves: retirement funds, health care resources and even keeping tabs on the person who’s doing their investing.
“The FDIC, for example will be changing its rules,” says Corbin. “Asset protection may become a once-in-a-lifetime safety net.”
The average person today has enough money saved-$25,000-to stay in a nursing home one year, says Corbin. But one year won’t go too far with care costs rising each year by 10 to 12 percent. At that rate, current nursing home care costs of $1200-$3600 per month will leap to $12,000-$36,000 per month in just ten years, when the first crop of baby boomers reaches 55.
What we may see, says Corbin, is enactment of a Filial Responsibility Act whereby the government will provide funds only after seniors and their children have run out of funds,.
Which means children may be bearing more financial responsibilities for their parents, if not outright supporting them.
In some cases, this is already happening. Thirty and 40-year-old adults are struggling to provide for their parents’ health care at the same time they are educating children. No resources are left to put aside for their own retirement. Corbin and financial advisors also tell seniors to give power of attorney to someone they trust-a child, or an attorney. They should make this person aware of all bank accounts, outstanding debts, investments, safety-deposit boxes and assets that would need to be used in case of a medical emergency. And every senior citizen should have a will.
The outlook, says Corbin, may not be as bleak as it seems. She says long-term insurance will start reimbursing for home health care and services. If retirement is bumped up to age 70, and if we keep in good health, we may ease the drain on Social Security and Medicare.
“But the baby boomers have to take control of their own destinies-no one’s going to take care of you if you don’t,” warns Corbin. “You either pay for your retirement now, or later. If you pay later, you’re going to be at someone’s mercy.”
American Association of Retired Persons
Dallas County Veterans Service Office
Dallas Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Dallas Urban League
Seniors In Community Service
Dispute Mediation Service of Dallas
Homestead Tax Exemptions
(City/County Taxes for Seniors 65+)
Lawyer Referral Service
Texas Department of Human Services
Social Security Administration
Social Security Administration
State Board of Insurance
Aging Information (24 hours)
Community Council of Greater Dallas
American Foundation for the Blind
Consumer Protection Information
Better Business Bureau of Dallas
Dallas Dept. of Health and Human Service
Office of Senior Affairs
Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind
Dallas Taping for the Blind
Deaf Action Center
Dental Health Care Assistance
Dental Health, Inc.
Garbage Carry Out For The Disabled
Dallas Dept. of Sanitation
Geriatric Mental Health Services
Dallas County Mental Health & Mental
City of Dallas Health & Human Services
Housing & Neighborhood Services
Housing & Neighborhood Services
Books on Audio Cassette
Dallas Public Library
Library Assistance For Deaf
Or Visually Impaired
Dallas Public Library
Nursing Home Complaint Line
Texas Dept. of Health
Senior Affairs Commission
Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas
Suicide & Crisis Center
Texas Commission for the Blind
Texas Society to Prevent Blindness
Visiting Nurses Association
Project OAR-Telephone Reassurance
REV. ALICE WEED
Alice Weed has been a pace-setter all her life. And she’s not about to let old age stop her style. The 81-year-old missionary was one of the first women ministers ordained in the Methodist church. After graduating from college in Lincoln, Nebraska, Alice told her family God was calling her to China. Instead, because of a handicapped arm, she taught at an Indian Reservation in New Mexico. She attended seminary school in Hartford, Connecticut. And after another stint at a Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota, she went off to China.
Alice spent 10 years in China and 17 in Costa Rica. She taught, nursed, organized Sunday Schools, even rode through the jungle on horseback. In 1983, “The One Thing I Do: The Story of Alice Weed,” by Evelyn M. Berger was published.
In 1973, a few years after her retirement, Alice was visiting cousins in Dallas and saw Presbyterian Village for the first time. She fell in love with the place and says she hasn’t been as happy anywhere since she was a child.
“You can’t tell who’s wealthy or who isn’t,” says Alice. “You’re just one of a lot of friendly people.”
There are, says Rev. Alice Weed, two ends of life that are very similar: when you’re a child, and when you’re “chronologically gifted” with a long life.
Alzheimer’s Association 214/754-0085
American Heart Association
SANDWICHED BETWEEN NOW & LATER
Julie and Brad Broberg know what it means to be “sandwiched.” A few years ago, Brad’s father had orthopedic surgery in (he couple’s native state of Minnesota. When he moved to Texas, Julie and Brad began looking for a service that would provide the medical care he needed in the home.
“We found a lot of services, but locating them was extremely difficult and time-consuming,” says Julie, 29, “So we decided to start a company that would make it easier.”
Julie and Brad started Care Resources of the Southwest, a computerized service providing fingertip information on options for senior citizens in greater Dallas – information on housing, day care, health and nursing care and any service that would be helpful to the senior citizen or his family.
“Most people who are finding care for the seniors are in their 30s and 40s,” says Julie. “They have jobs, families, lives, but they have to worry about their parents. They’re the ’sandwiched1 generation.”
In its first three months of operation, Care Resources obtained 738 referrals on its computer data bank. Besides listing senior housing care and details of facilities Care Resources has obscure but vital services: personal shoppers, a company that makes easy-to-clean furniture for people suffering from incontinence and a service that will fill out all your medical forms for $100 a year. (Care Resources can be reached at 214/320-0060.)
Shirley Schwaller, publisher and co-founder of Sr Texas, a monthly newspaper for senior citizens, says we will be seeing many new companies in the future that cater to home health care.
One example is CrowCare, a professional service network providing videos for those searching for the retirement or nursing home facilities. (CrowCare can be reached at 214/521-7788.)
Aging Americans and those who care for them face a number of choices about care, places and finances. A new videotape series called “All About Aging,” produced by Lubbock resident Jeanette Vaughan, gives information on aging. On camera: advice on long-term and short-term nursing care, obtaining Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, as well as psychological components of aging and ways to deal with specific problems. (Call Age View Video Service at 806/791-4200,)
“The nice thing about the tapes,” said one viewer, “is that you find you’re not alone in the problems you (ace. We are all sharing the same feelings of guilt. These people took care of me as a child, now it’s my turn to take care of them.”