On a sunny afternoon, I met Marian Atcheson and her daughter, Catherine, and we had a wonderful time walking down memory lane spanning several generations. Marian first joined Sterling Court a year ago, but only became a full-time resident 2 months ago. She has been an active community member of San Mateo for almost 6 decades!
Our conversation began with her sharing that her great-grandfather had emigrated from Germany and became a rancher in Mertzon, Texas. Her dad, one of three children, graduated from MIT and then returned to Mertzon to run the family ranch – and this is where Marian’s story starts. From a young age, she was raised to be an independent girl. At just 5 years old, she told me the story of how she would walk a mile every day to a bus stop, then ride 16 miles to school, and then have to wait with the janitor in the basement for school to open. Early on she learned how to ride horses, and relayed a story about a time she was riding bareback with a friend and her horse was bitten by a rattlesnake and took off at a full gallop. She hung on for dear life and somehow managed to stay aboard and uninjured, although the horse later died.
After graduating from the Hockaday School in Dallas, Marian went to Pine Manor College in Boston to study art. There, she went on a blind date with a Stanford graduate who was attending Harvard Law School, and although subsequent dating interrupted her studies, it turned into a 30-year marriage. Dave and Marian moved to California, and she has been here ever since. They had 3 wonderful children – Catherine, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, is a scientist living in Alameda; Jim, an engineer who went back to the Texas family ranch and still runs it today; and Carol, a 6-foot-tall fashion model who lives in Paris. Together there are 4 grandchildren, 2 close-by in Alameda and 2 in Paris. Marian is 5’11” and her husband was 6’7”, and Marian was quick to share that not only is her younger daughter 6’ tall, but her son is 6’4” and her two grandsons are over 6’8”!
When Marian first came to San Mateo she was a stay-at-home mom, and then got into the travel business, working at Town & Country Travel in San Mateo for 30 years. She specialized in honeymoon travel and traveled all around the world – with a particular love of Europe. “You name it, I was there,” was Marian’s response to my question of where she went.
Marian was also a pivotal force behind the Decorators’ Show House, a much anticipated annual event designed to raise money for the Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo. For several years, Marian served as the president and chairman of the board of the Coyote Point Auxiliary, which hosts this prestigious event. Marian has deep roots here and still has her lovely home just a few blocks away in San Mateo Park.
After her 30-year marriage, she had a 31-year relationship with a wonderful man, Dick Seward, who passed away two years ago. Recently, she decided that taking care of the San Mateo Park property was just too much. When asked why she selected Sterling Court for the next chapter in her life, location was clearly a factor – having spent the past 60 years in this great town. She also expressed how important it is being with other like-minded people and living a life with a sense of community.
You may find Marian hovering over a crossword puzzle, playing bridge or dominoes, or at one of the lectures. And, if you have a favorite book, do let her know, as reading is a favorite pastime.
Keeping your body in shape is important. Everyone from your neighbor to your doctor can tell you that physical fitness is key to a long, healthy life. But what about your mental fitness? Are you keeping your brain in shape?
While good physical health can help prevent diabetes and heart problems, it doesn’t account for other diseases common in the elderly like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, with 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 suffering from it. While there is no cure for the debilitating disease, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and/or dementia as you age.
This is where mental dexterity comes into play. Over the years, studies have suggested that having a greater cognitive reserve correlates with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, how do you keep your brain in shape?
Enjoy the simple things
Being mentally fit isn’t the same as hitting the gym to achieve physical fitness. You don’t have to take a bunch of intelligence tests or study calculus to keep your brain sharp. Much like walking can help get the blood pumping, there are plenty of simple activities you can do every day to ensure you don’t neglect your mind.
1. Read a book: Especially with the temperature starting to drop, you may want to skip sitting out in the courtyard and opt to stay inside. You can get your mind working by simply reading a book or a newspaper. Enjoy from the comfort of your own home or check something out from Sterling Court’s own library.
2. Hang out with your neighbors: The mind-body connection isn’t a myth. A great way to exercise both your mind and body is by socializing with your peers – take a walk with the Sterling Walkers or with some friends around the courtyard.
3. Play some games: Whether you’re figuring out the crossword in the Sunday newspaper or playing dominoes with your next door neighbor, you’re keeping your mind sharp by playing games. Sterling Court offers so many game times with classics like Bingo and Rummikub that you’ll never be bored. You can even play some Wii to exercise not only your wit, but your body!
4. Try out some new recipes: With Sterling Court’s gorgeous rental apartments being equipped with kitchens, it’s easy to release your inner Julia Child and whip up something new. Studies show that trying out new foods can help increase your brain’s vitality. In fact, just doing something new in general goes a long way for mental dexterity.
5. Be positive: You’ve likely already heard this one, but it’s still worth repeating. A nice positive attitude can increase your mental proficiency. So breathe, smile, and focus on the good things in life.
A healthy brain leads to a healthier life. While it’s not a cure, ensuring that you keep an active mind can only benefit you.
It is thought that flamingos, along with other long-legged wading birds like herons and storks, originated about 30 million years ago before many other avian orders had evolved. Fossils show that flamingos have not had any significant changes in their evolution since then. The earliest flamingo fossils were found in Sweden, which predated the fossils of herons found in England and North America as well as storks in England and France by five million years. Fossilized flamingo footprints, estimated to be seven million years old, were also found in the Andes Mountains. There are five species of flamingos. All the species live in tropical and subtropical climates. There are two subspecies of the greater flamingo (the largest of the flamingo that has deep, pink-colored wings) and the Caribbean flamingo (slightly smaller than the greater flamingo and is crimson or vermilion). The lesser flamingo is the smallest of flamingos with color that is brighter than greater flamingos. The Chilean flamingo is slightly smaller than the Caribbean flamingo and has gray legs with pink at the joints. The Andean flamingo has yellow legs and feet and a red spot between the nostrils. The James’s flamingo has all black feathers, including the secondary feathers that are usually red in other species. The word flamingo comes from the Latin word flama for flame and is based on the Portuguese word flamengo for “flame-colored.” The color in their feathers is due to eating carotenoid pigments in their food such as the shells of crustaceans and algae. A flamingo that is pale pink or nearly white may be ill.
While looking for Jay Soper’s third-floor apartment, I hear a voice call out for me to stop.
“Excuse me?” A woman and an older man are walking a few feet behind. “Are you looking for us?”
It’s Jay Soper and his daughter Lisa, and they’re heading back towards Jay’s apartment. We engage in idle chitchat before entering the apartment together. His living room is neat and organized. By the patio entrance, a tall flag with what looks like a United States military emblem flaps in the calm afternoon breeze. Lisa proudly confirms her father’s lifelong service in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As Jay shares his life’s story, one thing immediately becomes clear—Jay Soper has lived a life of consistency. He married his high school sweetheart, held the same career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers all his life, and constantly traveled to beautiful, far-flung places.
Before Jay became a globetrotter, traveling and living in places like Italy and Alaska, he was a small-town boy. Born in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, Jay grew up in a small town with a population of about 6,000 people.
“I was the youngest of six boys,” Jay says. He points to a framed photograph on the living room wall by the window. “Those are my parents and my brothers. They’re all gone now.”
As he talks of his childhood and upbringing, we reach the high school point of his story. Jay’s eyes light up as he recalls his high school sweetheart, Carole, who would eventually become his wife and mother to their only child, Lisa.
Jay and his wife of 56 years were not only high school sweethearts, their romance continued through college as well. Both attended and graduated from University of North Dakota, where his October 2018 wife studied to be a medical tech and Jay got a master’s degree in civil engineering.
With his wife and daughter, Jay traveled throughout all fifty states, as well as Italy, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, among other places. In their spare time they enjoyed playing golf.
“Our favorite was probably Italy,” Jay says. Lisa points out a few paintings of Italian views. Jay happily remarks that they saw those very views in person. “My wife loved shopping for local jewelry and shoes,” he adds. The pair then show me a custom hand-made candle sitting on the table between us. The handiwork is as intricate as anything I’d ever seen.
Nowadays, Jay enjoys his quiet life at Sterling Court. Lisa lives only a few minutes away in San Bruno, which allows her to visit her father often. By both their accounts, Jay is never bored with the daily routine at Sterling Court. He has made friends with his neighbors and actively participates in many events.
After a lifetime of seeing the world, Jay appreciates the calmness that Sterling Court offers.
One of the best things about the San Francisco Peninsula is the weather. The winters are never too cold, and summers are never scorchers. But of course, there are still some days when we catch a heat wave. While we anticipate the fall season and the weather becomes cooler, seniors need to be aware of the heat. Hundreds of Americans die every year from extreme temperatures, and a high percentage of those fatalities are seniors.
As the body ages, it becomes less able to physically handle the heat, due to various age-related reasons like poorer circulation. Other risk factors include heart disease and dementia. The Autumn leaves fall soon, but in the meantime, here are some tips to help stay safe in the summer heat.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Being hot is not the only reason why heat can be dangerous. Dehydration is an extremely common occurrence in seniors because a person’s sense of thirst becomes less acute as the body ages, regardless of the temperature. This makes it more likely for seniors to skip drinking water despite being dehydrated. So, when in doubt, reach for a trusty glass of water!
Stay Cool, Be Cool
Sterling Court’s beautiful courtyard can be tempting, but when the weather is too hot, there are plenty of things to do inside the building. Enjoy playing cards with your friends and neighbors, attend a lecture, or listen to the beautiful music during Social Hours. You can also stay in your own lovely apartment and turn on the fan to relax with a nice cold glass of water.
When the temperature’s high, make sure to dress in light, breathable garments – you can always grab a sweater or cardigan if you feel a little cold once the temperature drops.
Beat the Heat
Regardless of the situation, it’s always important to stay educated and informed. The real dangers of high temperatures, especially for the elderly, are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both very serious conditions that can lead to serious injury. Being aware of the symptoms can help you recognize someone who might be suffering from either condition.
Heat exhaustion is typically accompanied by a fever up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, excessive thirst, confusion, nausea, cool and clammy skin, fainting, muscle aches, and dizziness. If left untreated, heat stroke can quickly develop.
Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, agitation, lack of sweating, red, hot and dry skin, and coma.
If you notice any of these symptoms on yourself or your fellow neighbors, please call for help right away. Sterling Court has a fully trained staff who are all equipped to care for our resident’s health needs.
We can help with apartment availability and scheduling tours, or send an application for residence. Let us know what you are interested in learning more about and how we can help you!