Rosh Hashanah signifies the beginning of the New Year 5779. It begins on Sunday, September 9 at sundown. The most common phrase you’ll hear is “L’shana tova tika tevu” which means “May you be inscribed for a good New Year!” This refers to God’s Book of Life and getting one’s name inscribed is the goal of every Jew during this time of judgment. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, God judges every person’s good and bad deeds performed during the previous year.
Yom Kippur, begins at sundown on Tuesday, September 18. This is a Day of Atonement, and all ablebodied Jewish adults are required to fast for 24 hours. God does not expect anyone to put his or her life in danger in order to fast. Yom Kippur is a day of prayer and self-refl ection.
The first service is the Kol Nidrei and the second service is called the Neila during which the shofar (ram’s horn) is sounded at sundown on the next day September 19, 2019, ending the holiday.
Three picture frames flank either side of Dona Santo’s apartment door, two on the right, one on the left – nothing terribly exciting. At least, not at first glance.
Friendly and soft-spoken, Dona does not describe her life as anything too wild. She was born in San Francisco in 1934 and lived most of her life in the City. As a true San Franciscan, Dona recalls the biggest difference between the modern San Francisco and the city she grew up in is security.
“We never used to lock the door,” Dona says, adding, “I can’t imagine anyone doing that now.”
Like the entry to her home, Dona’s story unravels only upon closer inspection. She was raised in the Richmond District by Scottish parents, graduated from high school, and worked as a secretary at Crocker National Bank and UCSF before she got married, but he r first marriage wasn’t meant to be. It was only after meeting her second husband, one she would keep for 48 years until his passing, did Dona settle comfortably into life. Their lifelong courtship introduced Dona to another lifelong love: horse racing.
Dona’s husband worked as a horse jockey in New York. “There’s a picture of him,” Dona says, pointing to the wall where a black-and-white photograph of a man on a horse racing track hangs. She speaks of their shared love for race tracks, and recalls going to the old Bay Meadows track, a legendary Bay Area racing venue that opened in 1934 and operated continuously until its closing in 2008. “It’s too bad they don’t have one here anymore,” Dona laments.
But Dona didn’t just enjoy her husband’s races from afar – she worked at the tracks as well, holding a long-time position within the group sales department. When the pair retired, their adventures didn’t end either. With racing in the rear-view mirror, they opted for a much more relaxing form of movement: traveling.
Dona and her husband visited such far-flung places as Alaska, South America, Paris, Italy, and the Panama Canal, to name a few. They also logged many hours on the open seas. “We did a lot of cruises, too,” she says.
When her husband passed away in 2012, Dona continued to live in their Foster City home until six months ago, when she moved into Sterling Court. Fortunately, her two children Susan and Matthew, are local to the area.
Dona had always loved knitting and cross-stitching, considering both life-long hobbies. However, due to vision impairment, she hasn’t joined the Sterling Crafters – a club where she would have certainly felt right at home. But Dona still makes the most of her new life. When she’s not attending lectures at Sterling Court, she listens to audio books and socializes with her fellow neighbors.
“There’s always something to do,” Dona says, adding, “and everyone is really nice.”
The three frames that flank either side of Dona’s door have come into focus. The right wall holds two archival documents that mark her parents’ migration from Scotland to San Francisco. The left holds a beautiful cross-stitched cloth with patterns and “The Quilting” spelled out along the bottom. Much like her walls on first impression, Dona’s life may not seem that exhilarating. But with a closer look, anyone can see that it has been filled with art and adventure.
Staying in shape can be a challenge, no matter our age, but keeping active becomes increasingly difficult as we get older. Keeping active helps seniors stave off illnesses such as strokes and cardiac disease and leads to improved motor functions and better quality sleep. While extreme workouts may not be an option for seniors, there are many more moderate ways to keep fit in our later years.
Take a Stroll with Friends
You don’t have to do push-ups to be active. Grab a friend and take a walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes to an hour. Not only is this a good way to get moving, but it’s also a wonderful time to socialize with your peers, which will do wonders for your mental health.
Here at Sterling Court, you can join the Sterling Walkers as we venture to Coyote Point Park, Anza Lagoon, Ryder Park, San Mateo Central Park, and Leo Ryan Park. Walk with us every Friday at 11 a.m., weather permitting.
Sign Up for an Exercise Class
Signing up for a class is one of the best options for providing the discipline required to maintain a regular exercise routine. Classes allow us to form new relationships or cultivate existing ones. Yoga, dancing, and water aerobics can do wonders for our physical health, but make sure to consult a doctor before introducing any new form of exercise.
Sterling Court offers a variety of fitness classes with instructors specifically trained to help seniors maintain an active lifestyle. Shape up with Sophia on Mondays to help boost your energy and improve strength, stamina, balance, and posture, or try Chair Yoga with April on Wednesdays.
Participate in Sports or Swim
Exercising is more fun when there’s a little competition involved, and there are plenty of competitive sports that seniors can participate in without the risk of injury. A popular choice is golf—a great sport to help you get out in the sun, while also keeping you active. Running puts a lot of strain on your joints, so skip the treadmill and head for the pool instead. Swimming is a fantastic choice for cardio and an excellent way to log some exercise time in your schedule. There are several aquatic centers in the area that the Sterling Court drivers can take you to.
Prefer staying indoors? Another great way to play sports is through the Nintendo Wii. You can play golf, tennis, bowling, and more – all without leaving the house. Sterling Court offers assistance for anyone wishing to play for the first time. Play Wii Sports with your neighbors on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in the Revere Room.
Several paintings lean against the wall of Mary Minderman’s apartment. Among them, a painting of Half Dome, the well-known Yosemite landmark topping the bucket lists of many outdoor enthusiasts.
These days, those hoping to climb Half Dome are required to secure a permit. But, at a time when the regulations were a little less strict, an adventurous 18-year-old Mary Minderman set about tackling the 8-hour trek.
“It was the highlight of my life,” Mary says, half joking. She shares with me her funny anecdotes, infusing her narrative with a blend of humor and honesty. Her father wasn’t happy when she told him of her Half Dome climb, she recalls, but she still considers it one of her biggest accomplishments. “I don’t remember any girls climbing it either—I just went up with a bunch of guys!”
Born in the foggy city of San Francisco, Mary spent her early childhood in the then-very-Italian neighborhood of Excelsior. Her family was, in Mary’s own words, “the kind when you see grandparents every day.”
Mary recalls a childhood filled with family traditions. She recounts the time she briefly lived with her grandmother—or “Nanny”—as she affectionately called her. She shares with me a memory of how Nanny and a then 7-year-old Mary would take their once weekly early morning trip to the market.
Another of Mary’s memories takes us to Camp Mather, a place that made an indelible mark on Mary’s life. “I knew that place since I was a baby,” Mary says, flipping through her notes, detailing everything she wants to share. Without looking up, she continues, “that’s where I met my husband.”
Richard Minderman was working as a camp assistant at Mather when they met. But it wasn’t love at first sight for Mary. “I didn’t like him that first year,” she grimaces. “He kept teasing me—called August 2018 me ‘Smiley’ because I never smiled.” Of course, this didn’t last. Mary’s family spent every summer at Camp Mather; the following year, she and Richard became friends. And the year after that, they got married.
Mary and Richard went on to buy a bungalow in Burlingame, expanding it over the years as their family expanded. Along with their two sons, Wes and Erik, they spent every summer at Camp Mather, where Richard worked as a manager until retiring in 1992. “He really was a great guy. He could do everything.” Richard passed away in 2006.
Last September, Mary moved into Sterling Court, just a few minutes from Burlingame. While she’s still getting used to the routine, she’s settling into her new life. Along with her paintings, Mary’s apartment is filled with photos of her children, grandchildren, and the rest of her still-growing family.
Mary had finished going over her notes, but there was still a question that I wanted to ask: what finally made her change her mind about Richard after their initial encounter all those years ago? Without hesitation, Mary reveals that it was the 1963 Corvette that Richard drove. “It had a split window!” she says.
We hear it throughout our lives: maintaining relationships is paramount to a healthy lifestyle. As children, our classmates automatically become our friends, while, as adults, we are surrounded by coworkers or families of our own. But, how do we cultivate a social life as we grow older?
The Importance of Support Systems
Having a support system provides many benefits for both physical and mental health. Numerous studies show that social isolation is one of the leading causes of depression in seniors. Loneliness can materialize at any age but can be especially challenging as we grow older, leading to feelings of self-doubt and being forgotten. An emotional support system allows seniors to participate in activities and conversations together, helping them feel loved and needed by those around them.
Without regular interaction, seniors risk developing sedentary routines, resulting in physical health issues. Many seniors who don’t have regular social plans choose to stay indoors, reducing not only their physical activity, but also their exposure to sunlight, introducing them to a plethora of health risks. Regular participation in physical activities can help prevent hypertension and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, among others.
Maintaining a Social Life
Though it may seem like a challenge, finding ways to maintain an active social life might be easier than we think. A short exchange with a friend can boost mood and brain health. Arranging a time to meet up with neighbors can promote physical activity, whether it’s a short walk in the park or a weekend trip together. Here are some other ideas:
At Sterling Court, health is our number one priority. With a calendar full of activities ranging from chair yoga to art classes to floristry demonstrations, our community will help you cultivate your life day in and day out. Enjoy everything we have to offer and turn your neighbors into new friends!
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!