There must be something in the water at the Shores at Wesley Manor in Ocean City, because eight of the 237 residents at the assisted living community are at least 100 years old.
The Shores marketing director, Patti Smith, said the care and attention to quality of life at the Manor has an increased number of residents seeing their 100th birthday. An aide said the fact that the oldest residents are all women has something to do with the prevalence of old age, while one centenarian attributes her old age to martinis.
At the Shores, five residents are 101 years old and three are 100 years old. Seventy-eight percent of the Manors' residents are women, and the average age of residents is between 84 and 87-years-old.
"There was such a stigma against assisted living, but it has given them a better life and a higher standard, a lot which is through socialization," Smith said. "We talk to each person and try to match people up who have similar likes and dislikes. It's like going back to college and getting a dorm back."
Cecelia Leggieri, who turned 100 in December, retired to Ocean City around 1984 and has been at Wesley Manor for seven years. She grew up in a family of nine children in Huntingdon Valley in Pennsylvania and lived there until she married a Philadelphia firefighter, she said.
For many years, Leggieri was a seamstress for Nannette and then the director of Franklin Day Nursery in Philadelphia. Her daughters, Peggy and Judy Leggieri, said she loves living at Wesley Manor.
"She made our wedding dresses, bridesmaids and prom dresses," Judy Leggieri said.
"But her forte was directing the nursery," Peggy Leggieri added.
Betty Fischer is 101 years old - born Feb. 3, 1913 - and she's been at Wesley Manor for 10 years.
"I was born in Montreal, which is interesting to some people," Fischer said. "My father was a Lutheran minister."
Fischer tells the story of how when she was 9 months old, her family moved to the "coal regions" in Summit Hill, Pa., and then when she was 7 years old moved to Philadelphia.
Fischer said at 7 she met a 9-year-old boy playing in the street who said, "I'm going to marry that girl some day," and she and the boy, Albert Fischer, were eventually married for 69 years.
Fischer has seen a lot of changes in her lifetime, but the centenarian said they don't bother her. She also said she has no secrets, save for one - that she enjoys martinis.
"I've seen a lot of changes, but I've accepted all of them," she said. "I've had a wonderful life."
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