by Sarah Cocchimiglio
Fewer than one percent of Americans live to be 100. For Florence Fells, who turned 101 on Sept. 4, it’s a blessing and an accomplishment. Fells, of Spring Garden, is an active lady who enjoys games, music and the outdoors. She takes part in Homelink’s Adult Day program at the Homelink center at 5 West Mt. Airy Ave., where she loves to play card games like Uno and Skip-Bo, and enjoys spiritual concerns.
Fells is an African American woman, born and raised in Raleigh, N.C. She has outlived two husbands and a daughter. According to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project, blacks and Hispanics are statistically more likely than whites to live to be 100. They also tend to look more favorably on the idea of longer life spans as a positive development, the study reported.
The average life span for Americans today is 78.7 years, and according to the Pew study findings, most Americans, 69 percent, hope to live for between 79 and 100 years. The number falls off dramatically after that, with only nine percent wanting to live beyond 100.
Lori Shmukler, president and owner of Homelink, said she admires Fells’ love of life and her willingness and interest in trying new things, versus slowing down. Homelink offers Fells and other area seniors a variety of recreational activities, as well as health and social services. “Homelink demonstrates that age does not limit a person’s ability to participate,” Shmukler said. “[We] take pride in giving people the opportunity to experience and explore new things.”
Dan Schiavo, Homelink’s director of activities, said Fells still knows how to “cut a rug.” According to the director, “She’s very pleasant, and she’s still able to dance. As a matter of fact we had a luau in August, and she was dancing away.”
Schiavo said that sadly many elderly become forgotten, so he makes a point to improve Homelink participants’ overall quality of life. “Your environment is everything, and I really like to see the transformation of our participants from their arrival to their integration into the Homelink culture, of actually wanting to be active,” Schiavo said. “Their receiving regular human contact here is very holistic.”
At the end of each month, Homelink organizes a birthday celebration for all of the Homelink participants whose birthdays fall within that month. At the end of September, a special party was held to honor Fells’ 101st birthday.
Asked what she would do with another 100 years, Fells said she is grateful for every day, and will keep moving forward. “I would just accept it and keep on going,” Fells said. “God has been good to me.”
For over 25 years, Homelink, Inc., has provided services for older adults throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, including its Adult Day Center currently serving 80 older adults, a Meals on Wheels program, consumer and caregiver information and referrals and personal emergency-response systems. Homelink assists more than 1,000 older adults every day who enroll in the Adult Day Center Services because they have difficulty managing everyday activities on their own.
For more information, call 267-682-1020 or visit www.homelinkinc.org.