Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Print-out of my story on Aging in the Intelligencer

Was doing a million things in the kitchen... making my usual everything omelet, a salad for later, and talking to my friend Helene when the phone rang.

It was Freda.

Wonderful story in the Intell, Ruthie, she said.

Oh, it's in? I said.

The editor Alan Kerr was on vacation so it was delayed in appearing. Look, many of my poems or short stories never get published, but, to me, a newspaper story is paramount!

Naturally I had to get everyone's permission. Chasing down Mildred Chesney took an hour but was well worth it.


She was 88 when she finished her memoir, “My Name is Freda Rose.” Both Freda and her husband, Bernie Samuels, are now 90. A second marriage for both of them, they face life with enthusiasm and joy. Bernie has “good genes,” he says, while Freda faced the sorrow of her younger brother’s death from Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS. Along with Alzheimer’s, it’s a fear of many of the elderly.

Living in an over-55 community in Warrington, the Samuels both exercise and eat healthy meals. “We meditate, exercise and do self-hypnosis to help deal with an ill relative,” says Freda.

Retire? Because they’ve slowed down with age, they entertain people at their “feng shui” — uncluttered — home. Bernie once worked as an entrepreneur and Freda as an assistant hospital director at a major teaching hospital in Philadelphia. When discord came her way, she attended Recovery Inc., which taught the importance of ”thought control” and “movement.” If you can move your body, one leg at a time, you can get through the day.

The Samuels thought about moving to a continuing care community, “but we loved our home too much,” says Freda.

The average cost of assisted living in Pennsylvania is $3,555 per month for the 730 facilities in Pennsylvania, according to

Beatriz Moisset of Abington has no intention of leaving her cozy condo. The 82-year-old with a Ph.D. in biology is originally from Argentina. She keeps in touch with her family and friends on Facebook. Her passion, she says, is “pollinators. Insects and other animals that pollinate flowers. That’s why pollination is so important.”

She’s especially proud of having written two booklets, including “Bee Basics,” published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She and her American-born late husband met at a conference. What a pair they were. Jim Peters was in charge of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her writing, Moisset is a painter, having shown her work in several galleries, including Briar Bush Nature Center in Abington. Now she is giving away her paintings: still lifes of mushrooms, crockery, tea sets. She is grateful for having lived this long.

“I’ve had various forms of cancer since I was in my 60s,” she says. Sadly, cancer has killed many of her family members. “Now, it’s in my bone marrow. At my age, it isn’t so terrible.” Her son, Steven, has come to live with her with his cat, Kimba. Although she gets very weak, her mind is active.

Lillian Moss, who lives in a retirement center, is all of 106. The only requirement she has is to eat ice cream. Any flavor will do.

During the 21 days of the Rio Olympics, the subject of “age” was constantly bandied about. Star gymnast Simone Biles is beginning her career at 19, and swimmer Michael Phelps is nearing the end at 31.
The other day, I had the pleasure of swimming in the pool of a high rise in Willow Grove. “This is heaven,” said my friend Mildred Chesney, who swims there several times a week with her many girlfriends.

Says the University of Rochester Medical Center, “People who continue to maintain close friendships and find other ways to interact socially live longer than those who become isolated. Relationships and social interactions even help protect against illness by boosting your immune system.”

Who can argue with that? Certainly not Chesney, who was recently featured in the newsletter of Willow Grove Physical Therapy.

She takes the senior fitness class twice a week, and also participates in the water aerobics class provided by the therapy center. “I do cryptograms, crossword puzzles and play Scrabble,” she says. She also plays dominoes, mahjong, bridge and loves to read as a member of the Upper Moreland Book Club. With her friends, she volunteers to “cook for a friend” and right now, she writes, “I’m teaching a group of ladies how to play canasta.”

Mildred has never divulged her age, until now. There was no need until she was written up in the physical therapy newsletter.

She is 100 years old.

The poets tell it best. Horace, back in 65 B.C., wrote these inspirational words:

Scale back your long hopes to a short period. While we speak, time is envious and is running away from us.
Seize the day, trusting little in the future.

Now, how about that ice cream? Make mine mint chocolate chip.

Ruth Z. Deming is a psychotherapist in private practice and founder/director of New Directions Support Group of Abington. View meeting schedule and special events at For information, contact 215-659-2366 or

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