Aging

Elizabeth Herring, who turned 90 on Oct. 26, practives for her trapeze show in this photo taken in October of 2016.
Provided | Elizabeth Herring

As a teenager, Elizabeth Herring of Ladue escaped a life luxury by joining the circus. Tonight, she’ll be back in the ring, celebrating her 90th birthday at a party benefiting St. Louis’ Circus Harmony.

WashU biomedical scientist G.S.M Sundaram, PhD., holds a model of the molecule fluselenamyl, which may improve PET scans for patients with Alzheimer's disease. Senior author Vijay Sharma, PhD, sits to his right.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Think of the night sky when you look up through the smog of the city. Then, think of that same sky on a clear night in a rural area.

That’s the difference between two images of a 90-year-old man’s brain, after he passed away and donated his body to Alzheimer’s disease research. Both scans are dark blue, with points of light showing plaques consistent with the disease. But the sharper image uses a new compound developed by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Van Tyler checks a list of names and addresses while delivering meals in Jennings for the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Since the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging saw its funding slashed by about $2 million during the recession, the agency has had to piece together grants for major projects.

“We’ve had to close senior centers over the years because we can’t support the number that were originally being utilized. And yet at the same time the population is growing,” Director Mary Schaefer said.

That could soon change. On Nov. 8, voters in St. Charles County, St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis will see a box for “Proposition S” on the ballot. The initiative would increase property taxes to pay for programs for seniors, to help them continue living at home.

Dr. John Morley is a SLUCare geriatrician and director of geriatrics at the SLU School of Medicine
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this summer, the Pew Research Center released a report that found nearly 19 percent of Americans over the age of 65, nearly 9 million people, were working full- or part-time. That percentage has steadily increased since 2000.

The Witherspoon family

Most of us, at some point, will know someone who is struggling with a life-threatening illness. More than one in three U.S. residents are diagnosed with a form of cancer in their lifetime, and one in nine adults over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

But when a close friend or loved one shares that they have a serious health issue, we’re often left not knowing what to do or what to say.

Randy Miller, right, participates in a group therapy session at Fontbonne University's Aphasia Boot Camp.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

74-year-old John Rush is trying to find the word for a type of fruit pictured on a card in front of him. He can’t see it, but other participants in this group therapy session are giving him hints: they’re small, round, you can put them in pies…

It’s on the tip of his tongue.

“Gosh, I have some at home,” he laughs, to a roomful of encouraging smiles.

A co-worker calls Matt Brock's service dog, Lynn, out from under Matt's desk at his Paraquad cubicle.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Update June 9 with signature: Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation on Thursday that could expand Medicaid eligibility for Missourians who are elderly or living with a disability.

For decades, Missourians who were elderly, blind or disabled could only have $1,000 or less in savings. The bill Nixon signed would gradually raise that asset limit to $5,000 for an unmarried person and $10,000 for a married couple.

Van Tyler checks a list of names and addresses while delivering meals in Jennings for the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 200 senior citizens in north St. Louis County could soon receive daily hot meals from the local Meals on Wheels program, thanks to a cafeteria planned for the Ferguson Community Center.

The Mid-East Area Agency on Aging has been delivering frozen meals to seniors for three years because it lacks a place to heat them.

That could change soon, now that the agency has submitted plans to remodel center’s cafeteria at 1050 Smith Avenue. It also plans to open a new senior center location there as soon as August.

Lori Fiegel, Mary Rocchi and Geneva Powell shed some light on the state of seniors in the St. Louis region.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

By 2045, one in four people in the St. Louis metro area will be older than 65. That means there will be more than 290,000 people in that age group — a 75 percent increase, compared to today.

Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Foster Grandparents program connects seniors with low-income children with special needs.
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Aarya Locker, the director of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Foster Grandparents program joined host Don Marsh to discuss how seniors can serve as foster grandparents/mentors to low income children with special needs.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide.
National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

Scientists have identified a chemical that could one day be used in eye drops to treat cataracts — potentially eliminating the need for expensive surgery, the only treatment option currently available.

The research team was led by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor but included researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle and Washington University in St. Louis. The group found that eye drops made with a type of steroid could partially reverse cataracts in mice.

AFSCME members and supporters demonstrate outside of Paraquad, calling for higher wages for home health workers. The Missouri Home Care Union is affiliated with AFSCME.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Missouri Home Care Union are asking providers of in-home services for the elderly and disabled to raise the wages of the attendants they employ. A few union members and about a hundred supporters demonstrated outside of Paraquad in St. Louis Friday to ask the nonprofit to honor a deal struck by the union and the state’s Quality Home Care Council.  

One union member, Elinor Simmons, has worked as a home health care attendant for about 30 years. She said she makes $8.50 an hour, but when she asked her employer for a raise, she was denied.

Office of Sen. McCaskill

Almost half of working-aged Americans are at risk of having a lower standard of living in retirement than they now enjoy, according to a new study by the National Institute on Retirement Security.

“This retirement security crisis is very real,” said U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the ranking member on the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging. “In Missouri, only 45 percent of private sector workers are participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, and that is not an anomaly.”

At 107, Lucy Hamm is one of St. Louis's oldest residents. She lives in her own apartment at Tower Grove Manor retirement community.
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

Lucy Hamm, one of St. Louis’ oldest residents, turned 107 Friday. She's just nine years younger than the oldest known person living in the world, Misao Okawa of Japan.

Hamm was born in Cairo, Ill., on Jan. 30, 1908.  She moved to St. Louis in her 20s and has lived in the Tower Grove Manor retirement community in south St. Louis for 14 years.

Jess Dugan, left, and Vanessa Fabbre
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

When the TV show “Transparent” won two Golden Globe Awards a week ago Sunday, many transgender people felt validated, and a little less invisible.

Rosmary via Flickr

Missourians are getting older, but their access to health care is not keeping up.

In October, a Missouri Foundation for Health report found a need for more geriatric specialists in the state. In 2011, Missouri had 139 geriatric doctors. The report predicted that the state would need 558 by 2030.

Susan Stark
Washington University

If medical tests found that you had risk factors that could possibly lead to Alzheimer’s disease when you are in your mid-60s, would you want to know?

What if you were a freshman in college, just starting out on your path to adulthood? Would that change your answer?

That’s one of the questions that students in a new course at Washington University are pondering as they look into what their futures may hold — cue the Beatles music — when they’re 64.

via Flickr/ AJ Cann

A new report on the health of older Missourians says cost and access to health care are key concerns as the state’s population continues to age.

Marian Meade
Donna Korando | St. Louis Public Radio

What’s the secret to longevity? For 91-year-old Marian Meade it’s a combination of work and healthy living.  A big part of both for her is Weight Watchers.

Doing nothing is anathema to Meade. She drives her 2008 ivory Cadillac with the specially ordered chrome grill and big, spiky chrome hub caps to work five times a week. At work, she operates a computer, a skill she learned not so very long ago.

via Wikimedia Commons

According to the Pew Research Center, hundreds of thousands of Americans could live to see 100 by the year 2050. Women in France, Japan and the United States have already lived past the age of 114. With the now realistic possibility that individuals may live into the triple digits, planning ahead for retirement becomes both more important, and more challenging.

Living Longer

(via Flickr/natematias)

For the thousands of St. Louisans retiring and deciding how to live the latter years of their life, keeping their independence and living in the comfort of their own home is a primary concern.

That's where STL Village hopes to step in.

Part of the national Village to Village network, the goal of STL Village is to provide members with the services needed for them to stay in their own homes longer, as well as the social activities desired to help them stay connected.

I am closing in on fly-away time, I guess, if the calculations of Moses are right. In the life of an oldster, my age, 68, peeks around the chronological corner to look at the biblical drop-dead age of 70. Although life expectancies have been extended in the 3,000 years or so since Moses made his proto-actuarial poetical observations, the additional years we actually are given are few. And the truth is, they are not necessarily any good and can be degrading and horrible.

Commentary: One solution for potential caregivers

Jun 17, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: My wife is an only child. Her mother and aunt are twins who just celebrated their 89th birthdays. Both were living independently until the mother fell and broke her hip. Neither of the twins has unlimited funds. The mother, who also has early stage dementia, canceled her long-term care insurance without my wife’s knowledge shortly before she granted my wife power of attorney.

(Courtesy: The Nine Network)

Journalist Stone Phillips grew up in Ballwin, Missouri and graduated from Parkway West High School.

Phillips spent 15 years at NBC News as a co-host of Dateline NBC and served as a substitute host for NBC Nightly News, Today and Meet the Press.  He now does reports on his own time at the website, Stone Phillips Reports.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Since 1965, Vic and Grace Phillips made their home in Ballwin. There, they raised three children, including son and broadcast journalist, Stone Phillips.

Today, the Phillips live in a retirement community in North Carolina, and the years, conversations and choices it took to get them there are documented in “Moving with Grace,” a new documentary filmed and produced by Phillips.

Sheila Rhoades

Every other year, senior citizens compete in the National Senior Olympics.  In Age of Champions, director Christopher Rufo shares the story of five athletes including sprinters, jumpers, and swimmers.

Host Don Marsh talks with Rufo and Bill Cannon, an 82-year-old swimmer from the St. Louis area who has earned more than 2,000 medals at the Senior Olympics.  Age of Champions is set to make its debut on PBS in 2013.

Related Event

Provided by Anna Jackson

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Anna Jackson's cottage sits atop a hill near Old St. Charles. It faces east, and some mornings, the 64-year-old is greeted by sunrises that fill the sky with colors of molten lava. Every day, she walks quietly around the back of her home toward the front. When she reaches her mailbox, the robins that live just above freeze, but she coos to them quietly as she gets her mail, and soon they get back to their family.