These Oklahoma Volunteers Make Sure Those Who Turn 100 Are Celebrated : NPR
NPR’s Michael Noble Jr.
Gloria Helmuth has witnessed the joy of turning 100. Although she isn’t there herself, who turned 82, over the years, she’s helped hundreds of people over the age of 10 pay their respects. And that gave her her own unique insight into what it means to actually live to be 100 years old.
For one, there are obvious health challenges. And often it’s downright lonely. Loved ones such as spouses, friends, and even children, years and sometimes decades can pass before a person crosses the century mark.
“I think it’s important for people to know that they care about them,” says Helmuth. “And that’s why we exist.”
Helmuth oklahoma centenarianTheir mission is simple; To honor his centenarians in the state.
The United States has more centenarians than any other country, and the population is growing thanks to medical advances and lifestyle changes. According to the Census Bureau, there are about 90,000 centenarians living in the United States today, about three times as many as there were 40 years ago.Another 40 years later, the number Can swell to nearly 600,000.
According to Oklahoma Centenarians, there are believed to be approximately 500 people in Oklahoma who are over the age of 100.ever since Founded in 1991, the group claims to have won over 2,700 awards to date.
“We travel all over the state,” says Sue Scott, the organization’s president and one of the volunteers conducting the tribute ceremony. …she was 112 years old.”
The other two will be ultracentenarians, turning 110 next year. “They have some stories to tell,” says Scott.
In honor of the state’s “Golden Oakes”
A typical tribute ceremony will feature a brief bio of the 100+ freshmen and trivia the group has gathered over its 30+ years of activity. Scott might point out, for example, that more than 80% of the centenarians they honor are women, and how the proportion of centenarians is the highest in Japan. Each entrant will receive a certificate and a “Golden Okie” pin.
“We’ve done it in every situation. We’ve done it in bars and garages, outdoors and indoors,” Scott says. “And during the pandemic, we’ve done it through windows.” We were standing outside and the elderly were inside.It works anyway.”
Scott says he’s even been invited to pay tribute to centenarians on their deathbeds.
“I believe they hear us because one particular man was talking about his son standing beside him as I read certain things about him.” Because he held my hand tightly,” says Scott. “I think he understood part of it.”
Group work also has an academic side. When someone over the age of 100 dies, the volunteer receives the biographical information he’s collected and sends it to her Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University, where he sends it to researchers studying people over the age of 100. . This information has also been shared with the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The Importance of Respect
One of the group’s newest inductees is Paul Romanero, who was born in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in 1922 when Warren Harding was president.
Talking to Romanello is like going back in time. He tells us that as a boy he cooked potatoes on the streets of what is now Midtown Manhattan. Or the way he says he memorized a vision test to enlist in the Army of WWII.If he hadn’t, he met the love of his life his USO his dance. I may have missed it.
“She had a passion for dancing,” recalls Romanello. “During her deathbed, she was still saying, ‘Paul, dance with me. Dance with me.'”
Paula Naylor is one of Romanello’s five children. She says the last few years have been tough for her father. She lost her wife of 70 years in 2015. He stayed at their home for several years, but eventually moved to a nursing home. Naylor says he was largely isolated from the world when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“He was a very sociable Italian, so I found it quite different from not being able to interact with people,” says Naylor.
But his 100th birthday celebration last month at Tulsa’s Senior Living Community gave her father something to look forward to.
“It was good,” Romanello said of the celebration. “I thought it was good.”
“He was so excited when we took him to the library and the whole family was there. Say. “He seemed so happy to have the attention and he knew he had finally reached 100. It’s something he’s been talking about for months.”
words of wisdom
Helmuth, director of Centenarian in Oklahoma, says stories like that are everything.
“This is what enriches our day and what makes it so rewarding for us,” says Helmuth. “The few of us who do this have the blessing of working with people who are 100 years old.”
Over the years, the organization’s volunteers have collected words of wisdom from people over the age of 100 on how to live a long and fulfilling life.
Some people give practical advice like “eat your vegetables” or “work hard and save money”. Some are more philosophical, like “don’t worry about the things you can’t change” and “look for the good in everything”.
Then there’s one of Helmuth’s favorites.
“A woman just wrote, ‘Keep breathing,'” she says with a laugh. “She has a sense of humor. She’s fine.”
https://www.npr.org/2023/01/02/1145096613/centenarians-of-oklahoma These Oklahoma Volunteers Make Sure Those Who Turn 100 Are Celebrated : NPR