When Frances German’s mother came down with pneumonia in 1979 at the age of 97, there wasn’t much the doctors could do. She died from the infection.
This March, also at age 97, Frances contracted pneumonia, too. It was only the second hospital stay of her life; the birth of her son was the first. Frances spent 50 days in the hospital, then transferred to Salina Presbyterian Manor’s rehabilitation unit, PATH (Post-Acute to Home). By summer she was well enough to go home, with support from visiting caregivers – just in time to celebrate her 98th birthday in August.
Frances credits her recovery to her lifelong focus on healthy habits – something she believes everyone should do, at every age. “I felt like it was important because I had a family and I wanted to take care of them,” she said.
Frances grew up on a farm in Detroit, Kan., near Abilene. Her parents emphasized healthy living for their eight children and took them to doctors when they were sick – unlike many people they knew in those days.
“They always promoted good health and exercise and good food, and you know we lived on a farm, so we didn’t have all this stuff in food that we have now. It was better for you,” she said.
She doesn’t doubt that good genes played a role in her healthy longevity, too. Both of her parents lived into their 90s, and one of her brothers is now 101.
After high school, Frances got a job at a bank and worked there for 30 years. When she decided to retire, some of her co-workers expressed concern.
“One person didn’t think I should retire because I was so healthy,” she said. “He said, ‘She might go downhill if she retires.’”
She proved them wrong, even through her bout with recurring pneumonia. And, Frances said, she learned even more about physical fitness from her PATH stay and her ongoing rehabilitation.
“I have a lot of people coming here to help me with physical therapy. I never realized how important those people are,” Frances said. “If I had come right home from the hospital, I wouldn’t have had all that therapy to help me get my strength back.
”It looks like Frances is on track to see her 100th birthday. Her hairdresser has even given her some incentive: “She said she would make me 100 cupcakes then.”