Council on Aging annual report preview: Redefining what it means to be a centenarian

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Florence, age 102, receives in-home care through the Hamilton County Elderly Services Program.  She is profiled, among other COA clients, in the organization's 2015 annual report.

At age 102, Florence is as active and engaged with life as someone decades younger. Around her senior housing complex people call her Feisty Flo. Usually gentle, as when she shares scripture passages with friends in need, she can be quite commanding in her advice to those who want to take things easy: “You can’t have a good life if you don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “You need to get off your butt!”

Florence is one of several Council on Aging clients who are featured in our 2015 Annual Report which will be released at our annual meeting on March 9. The report will be available in print and online after that date.

Florence is also part of a fast-growing segment of the older population. The number of Americans age 100 or older is up by 44 percent since 2000, according to federal health officials. In late 2015, COA had 35 people age 100 or older on the Elderly Services Program.

Although she has no serious health problems, Florence needs a wheelchair to get around and can’t stand without help. Through the Consumer Directed Care option in the Hamilton County Elderly Services Program, she has an aide who helps her bathe and dress in the morning and then returns in the evening to get her ready for bed. She also does light housekeeping and grocery shopping. The aide is a family friend who was recruited by Florence’s daughter, Lana.

Rising at 6:30 or 7 a.m. every day, Florence attends Bible study classes, plays chair volleyball, visits friends, helps out in the kitchen (wrapping baking potatoes in foil), and never misses a residents’ meeting.

“I never take a nap,” she said. “I don’t want to waste my time.”

Her favorite day is Wednesday, when her grandchildren and great-grandchildren come over for cards, games, cooking, and ice cream. They even dance together; the kids show Florence their moves and she joins in by kicking her legs in her wheelchair.

“I just love life and I love being alive,” Florence said. “I never dreamed I was going to live this long.”

Her advice for longevity? “When you get bad news, throw it over your shoulder, step on it, baby, and move on!”