The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 2001 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, May 4, 2001
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Page 10
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AlO FRIDAY. MAY 4. 2001 SENIORS THE SALINAJOURNAL T RESEARCH Centenarians finding fountain o As an aging population grows, researchers Inunt clues to long, healthy life By ANJETTA McQUEEN The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Juanita Oilman survived the flu epidemic of 1919, heavy smoking during World War II, a car crash on a North Carolina mountainside when she was 93 and the pneumonia that hospitalized her when she was 99. She has no magic recipe for her longevity: She exercised regularly, including years of ballroom dancing. But she eats anything she wants, including breakfasts of bacon and eggs. Church and family kept her centered, but a son's service in the war drove her to cigarettes. People who have lived past 100 are being studied for their secrets. Researchers are sifting through such histories, seeking the answer to what leads to a long life: good genes, good habits or just good luck. "I don't know that I've done anything extra," said Oilman, who turned 100 last July Maybe it's the treadmill: .'•'Sometimes I skip a day and I don't always get up to a mile, sometimes it's just three quarters of a mile." • John LaFauci, a 101-year-old who ^publishes a weekly newsletter for his Smithfield, R.I., retirement complex, swears it's good genes and his avoidance of beef. Helen Rose, 100, a retired ieacher in Waterloo, Iowa, credits a Jove of learning and Jesus. ; "This is a ripe time to begin looking at this extraordinary group," said Dr. Jiobert Butler, director of the Interna- .tional Longevity Center, a New York City center where researchers look at how societies react to aging. • Just one in 10,000 Americans have lived a century They're the fastest- 'growing age group, and by 2050 — •when the oldest baby boomers would reach 100 — there could be nearly a million people that age or older, the Census Bureau says. ' Scientists record what the centenarians eat, what they don't and how they've handled stress. Children, siblings and spouses are also part of the research, to see what makes their elders different from people who share 'their genes or their environments. So far, centenarians have shattered myths and raised more questions ' about extreme old age. "We have 100-year-olds who have smoked all their lives; we have 100- year-olds who are fat," said Dr. Nir Barzilai, a Yeshiva University researcher seeking longevity genes. • ELDER CARE Juanita Oilman holds a photograph of herself taken at 6 months In 1901. Researchers know for certain few 100-year-olds have had heart attacks, developed Alzheimer's or diabetes. "We're constantly disproving the idea of the older you get, the sicker you get," said Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Harvard Medical School. "They are avoiding or delaying these diseases. We've got to find out how and why they do that." Researchers know that generally, the siblings of centenarians tend to live long themselves; siblings of centenarians are four times more likely than the greater population to reach their 90s, and are eight times as likely to get to 100. Medicine plays major role So far, genes that extend life have only been identified among insects. When the right human genes are discovered, researchers insist, the goal will not be to create an elixir to prevent aging. The point will be to help everyone live healthier lives by developing treatments for the diseases that kill people well before they reach 100. Other changes in medicine have already contributed to there being more 100-year-olds than ever. Born at the turn of the century, more such babies survived, thanks to vaccines, safe water and better public health. The average life expectancy at the beginning of the 1900s of 46 has nearly doubled now; 74 for men, 80 for women. The world's oldest person, documented by birth records, died at 122 in 1997. Famous centenarians have stood out in recent years. Entertainer George Burns showed the funny side of pushing 100. The Delany sisters, who both lived well past a century achieved fame with their "Having Our Say" memoir, which inspired a Broadway play and television movie. Strom Photos by The Associated Press Juanita Oilman, 100, shares a dance recently with her son-in-law Burley Hendricks inside her Hendersonville, N.C, home. Oilman and others who have lived past 100 are being studied for their secrets. Researchers are sifting through their histories, seeking the answers to what leads to a long life: good genes, good habits or just good luck. Thurmond of South Carolina would be the first 100-year-old senator at the end of his term in 2002. Only half live in nursing homes There's a certain pride, too. A 100th birthday often warrants a photo and article in the hometown paper. When Willard Scott of NBC's Today Show first started announcing 100th birthdays in 1983, there were few letters; now, he gets more than 200 requests per week. Centenarians promise to be even hardier if they avoid those life-ending diseases. Many already are. Just half live in nursing homes; the rest live on their own or with family LaFauci, a former traveling salesman, says people are as shocked by his independence as they are by his gift of gab. They mistake him for 60. "Mentally I'm sharp," he said. "I can hold a conversation with anyone." There are discoveries researchers haven't explained. Centenarian women outnumber men, but are sicker and more frail. Women who have a Juanita Oilman walks on a treadmill recently inside her Hendersonville, N.C., home. "We have 100-year-olds who have smoked all their lives; we have 100-year-olds who are fat." Dr. Nir Barzilai Yeshiva University researcher, child after 40 are five times as likely to reach the century mark than other women. Centenarians are all races. Some farm, others surf the Internet. A comfortable, wealthy pampered life doesn't necessarily guarantee long life. Children of slaves have lived to 100. Barzilai studies Jews who have survived concentration camps. The only thing researchers have found centenarians share is tK&t many had a family member who lived long as well. Yet some research is showing that genes don't hold aU the keys. Perls, a 40-year-old doctor who has studied centenarians for the past seven years, said centenarians score lower on a psychological test for neurotic conditions or traits. They don't dwell on things, and they're able to move on quickly. "I wasn't one to run to the doctor with every little pain," said Rose, who put more stock, in the Bible study she continues to this day at her Iowa retirement home. "We have vespers, and I go in my wheelchain "Paying attention to the physical is important, but we also need to have a spirituallife too." Program improves care Worker-owned health agency creates better environment, careers By HOLLY RAWER Jlw Associated Press • MANCHESTER, N.H. — .When Mary Gelinas cruises the halls of the assisted-living apartment complex on her afternoon rounds, few residents greet her by name. ' Instead, it's "Honey!" or "Sweetheart!" Even the one who calls her "a holy terror" grumbles it with affection. , "She's a devil on wheels. Put that in your book," the woman says as Gelinas nudges her back to her room to take her ;nedication. In New Hampshire and nationwide, low pay and high turnover continue to aggravate a critical shortage of workers to care for the elderly But thanks to an innovative project, residents of the Meetinghouse at Riverfront can count on Gelinas to help them hook up their oxygen tanks, rub lotion on their dry skin or make sure they get to meals and bingo on time. And Gelinas, for the first time in her life, can count on a career . Thf; 39 -year-oId certified nurse 's aide is in line to be- comf,- part-owner of Quality C^iff; Partners, the staffing ;j'^;oncy that trained her and still employs her. She already serves on its board of directors. "It's not like other agencies, where you're just another employee. They're very concerned about the workers," said Gelinas. "If you own a part of it, you're going to be a good worker. This is everyone's company" Once a welder, Gelinas switched to part-time jobs — lunch lady janitor — while her three children were younger. But as they grew up, money grew tight. In 1999, she signed up for a free training course offered by Quality Care, a fledgling agency created by three nonprofit groups to address two problems: a growing number of elderly residents and a severe The Associated Press Mary Gelinas jokes with a resident as she checks her blood pressure recently at the assisted-living apartment l\lleetlng- house at Riverfront In Manchester, N.H. BUILDING MATERIAL WAREHOUSE shortage of workers willing to care for them. At a time when the traditional caretaker population — women ages 22-44 — is decreasing, the state's elderly population is expected to grow by more than one third by 2015, according to a recent report by the New Hampshire Loan Foundation, one of Quality Care's founders'. Turnover rates are as high as 60 percent at some home health-care agencies and about 70 percent within the nursing home industry the report said. Training, wages, stock The company accomplishes its twin missions — improving health care and creating career opportunities for poor women — by offering free training, wages above the industry average and a chance to own stock in the company once it turns a profit. Starting this fall, company officials hope Quality Care will become one of only a handful of worker-owned health agencies in the country It will offer each worker a $400 share in the company through a $25 deposit followed by weekly payroll deductions. At the end of each year, the worker-owners and the board of directors will decide how much of their profits should go back into the company and how much to pay themselves in div­ idends. The dividends will be divided equally; like the workers other board members will get only one share. "No one gets any more by virtue of where they are in the hierarchy," said Walter Phinney, president of Quality Care Partners. The greatest benefit is providing workers with a sense of ownership and control over their futures, he said. "It all really starts with the worker. Quality jobs equals quality care," Phinney said. "If people feel well-paid, supported, involved, it only enhances the quality of eare they provide." The agency contracts with nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and hospices to provide certified nurse's aides and, with visiting-nurse associations to provide home health aides. About 70 women have completed the training. The five- week course, followed by a state certification exam, is intense, and for many women, the hurdles to success extend beyond the classroom. The typical trainee is a single mother in her 30s who has been working multiple part-time jobs, Phinney said. A social worker at Quality Care' helps many of them with transportation and child care so they can attend classes, he said. 1 DAY ONLY! SATURDAY! MAY Sth 7:30 AM - 9K)0 PM 15% OFF! EVERYTHING WE SEU! •LUMBER! •PLYWOOD! •DOORS! •WINDOWS! •SIDING! •ROOnNG! •PANELING! •PAINT! •GARDEN HOSES! •SPRAYERS! •FERnUZERS! •FLOWERS! •UGHT FUrrURES! •TREES! •COMfflODES •SHRUBS! •VANITIES! •EUERYTHING! EVERYTHING WE SEIL! Free Nachos from V, 11:00 a.m. to ^ 2:00 p.m. SEE YOU THERE! SAUNA 2450 &Nimil STREET (785) 827-8774 MON-SAT 7:30AM-9:00 PM SUNDAY 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

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