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Seniors debunk myths about assisted living with new murder mystery

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Arrow Senior Living
In 2021, 47 Arrow Senior Living residents collaborated to write “The Old and the Beautiful.” The authors were surprised with hard copies of the book in December. (Pictured: Arrow Senior Living residents Eleanor Stewart and Donna Birdsong)
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Arrow Senior Living
Arrow Senior Living resident Lois Davis co-wrote chapter eight of “The Old and the Beautiful.”

Residents of the St. Charles, Missouri-based Arrow Senior Living community have spent the last two years in virtual meeting rooms — riding out the pandemic and enjoying one another's company via online bingo games, history lessons, trivia and more.

“They came up with great ideas during this pandemic to keep us occupied,” Arrow Senior Living resident Donna Birdsong of Joplin, Missouri, told St. Louis on the Air.

For Birdsong, one of the highlights of 2021 was becoming a published author. Last year, she and 47 other residents collaborated to write the murder mystery “The Old and the Beautiful.”

“It adds a little spice to your life to be involved with other residents and have a project,” said another co-author, Lois Davis.

Donna Birdsong and Howard Simmons join St. Louis on the Air

The authors and Arrow Senior Living staff hope the novel not only entertains but debunks ageist ideas about what it’s like to reside in a senior living community.

“Oftentimes in our society, we tend to infantilize seniors; we tend to dismiss them,” said Arrow Senior Living’s editor and archivist Howard Simmons. “Going through the experience of working with seniors, residing in senior communities with them, getting the opportunity to speak to them one-on-one and get to know them has really changed how I view [aging].”

Birdsong and Simmons joined Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air to discuss what it’s like to undertake such a collaborative project and how the activity fits into the agency’s mission of maintaining a childlike sense of wonder in all endeavors.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Kayla Drake. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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