The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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These seniors aren’t getting old

One warm September day, a group of old ladies are sitting on rocking chairs chatting and laughing. They are enjoying their afternoon.

The ladies are living in The Plaza at Chase Oaks in Plano. The apartment is for people who are 55 years old and up. It has been there only for about a year, but the complex is full now.

Betty Anderson, 72, Gail Combs, 68, Merilyn Johns, 72, Martha Tufts, 79, and Fran Hensley, 72, said they are all enjoying their lives, and they said getting old is not a depressing experience at all.

There are more than 2,700 nursing homes in the Dallas area, and there are also apartment complexes for elderly people.

“I don’t have to care about all the house expenses and responsibilities such as mowing and taking care of all the bills,” Anderson said.

The National Center for Health Statistics released in September 2007 reports that U.S. life expectancy at birth has climbed up to almost 78, the highest in U.S. history. As people get older, they can face hardships beyond physical health issues: depression, loss of family and friends, and moving to a nursing home.

Dr. Karen R. Settle, a licensed psychologist at Southern Methodist University, said that elderly people can face some depression over losing people who were close to them.

“If they feel like their life is meaningful, they would have a better time,” she said.

But some elderly people contradict the statistic, saying getting old is not depressing.

“Living in the facility for elders is not depressing at all,” said Anderson.

“Everybody is friendly, and we have more freedom than we’ve ever had,” Johns said.

Dr. Settle said sometimes moving to such a facility is necessary in order for the elders to receive adequate care. But it can be very distressing to the elders as they lose more people, physical strength and so on.

“Not only have they lost all those other things, they have now lost their homes,” she said.

Anderson and Hensley moved to the facility because their husbands passed away and they didn’t want to stay home alone, but other people moved into the facility because they want to live closer to their children and grandchildren.

“I’m from South Carolina. I came here because my son lives near here, and I wanted to live close to him and my grandchildren,” Johns said.

The ladies at the Plaza said they chose to come to the facility and were not forced by family. They don’t feel they are neglected or abandoned by their children.

“We have abandoned them now,” said Anderson, and they all laughed.

Even though family members visit them or call them regularly, they said they don’t always have time for them.

“I am finally telling them, ‘No, I have something to do,'” said Anderson.

“We go visit them in our convenience,” said Tufts.

There is a swimming pool, spa, picnic area, fitness center, library and salon for residents to enjoy at the Plaza. Residents also gather in the clubhouse to play cards, watch football games, chat and hold snack parties.

The ladies also said they made more friends with common interests after they moved to the facility.

“When I lived away from here, all I had was family around me and church people,” said Johns.

“You’re more isolated when you have your own home,” Hensley added.

The women have experienced some psychological issues as they get older. Dr. Settle said family could be a very enriching part of their lives.

“Family could be a wonderful source of support and a place for elderly to find meaning of life,” she said.

Tufts said she was depressed for a while when she turned 75.

“But because of my family, I could get over it, and now I don’t have room for it.”

Since they moved to the facility, the ladies say that depression, losses and worry have not been a problem for them. If they have physical problems, they can choose whether they want their doctors to come regularly or not.

“I don’t worry about it,” Combs said.

The ladies’ secret of healthy life-styles? Just have fun!

“We are old, but we feel like we’re still young,” Combs said.

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