Aging gracefully and other life lessons

(photo: Lois Cooper)

By Lois Cooper

The DC Office on Aging (DCOA)  newsletter dated June 2016 noted that there were 300 registered Centenarians in the District of Columbia. The oldest DC resident according to the DCOA is Betsy Stanford, a Ward 4 resident who was born in 1903. On December 15th, my mother Catherine Cooper joined the growing list of persons to reach the golden age of 100.

Wikipedia defines a centenarian as a person who lives to or beyond the age of 100 years. It is said that life expectancy globally is less than 100, with the United Nations estimating in 2012 that there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide. I’m sure that number has grown because people are now living longer.  


My mother, a woman who is very centered in her faith, would remind us growing up that the Bible only promised us threescore, anything more was a blessing. I accepted that piece of wisdom without really knowing what it meant. Once I was older and able to do some research I found that in the Bible: “threescore (20) years and ten (10)” equaled seventy years (Psalm 90).

Our seniors are vital to building strong communities and helping us to understand and embrace what it means to be a Washingtonian. To help seniors and caregivers access resources, DCOA provides frequent informational events that connect seniors with information about services they may need but don’t know how to obtain. It's been documented by DCOA that Ward 4 is second to Ward 3 in the number of persons 60 and over living in the District of Columbia.

Being a senior citizen can be a lonely experience sometimes. Family and friends may no longer be around in some cases to help out and provide companionship. If you know a senior in your community, reach out to your neighbors, spread kindness, and continue to support them as they age gracefully. During this season of unpredictable temperatures and weather there are volunteer opportunities to help shovel snow for seniors and residents with access needs. If you are interested and can help in any way you can sign up with your ANC districts.

The first DC senior wellness center opened in 1985 to provide nutrition counseling, consumer education, and physical fitness. By partnering with community-based organizations, the DC government now operates eight centers and also offer transportation options to seniors. There are educational programs that keep seniors vibrant and provide opportunities for them to gain knowledge, and general competencies like computer training. These skills help seniors to participate and communicate in more aspects of community on a local, national and global level if they desire.

Catherine Cooper receiving a proclamation from Councilmember Brandon Todd (photo: Philip Ford)

To celebrate my mother’s milestone, we had a brief reception for her 100th birthday with family, friends, neighbors, church and community. Just the way she has always lived her life working as a village to help and empower others. Councilmember Brandon Todd stopped by and presented a proclamation to my mom. It was a heartfelt event.

If I learned nothing else from my mother, I learned kindness and "Don't let how other people act stop you from being the person you are destined to be."

I wish you peace and longevity! Be Well...

Lois Cooper

Lois is a native Washingtonian and proud parent of two daughters who recently graduated from college. She is the founder and Director of the District of Columbia African American Legacy Foundation (DCAALF), a grassroots organization that helps underserved populations.

Lois is also the creator and producer of the “The Pride and Promise of Petworth” documentary. Ms. Cooper credits Petworth with helping her to develop into the person she is today. You can email Lois with questions or suggestions on articles about social issues.

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