Home Health and Body Living, loving longer

Living, loving longer


As America gets “grayer” and medical science extends life spans, it’s not unusual for couples to celebrate romance in San Antonio retirement communities.

Even into their 90s, longtime married couples, widowers and divorcees enjoy the rewards of love.

Kevin VanOrman, vibrant life director at Shavano Park Senior Living, has seen love keep going or even blossom anew. Several couples at the senior-living community, 3220 N. Loop 1604 West, have been married for more than 60 years, he added.

Others find new relationships after the loss of a spouse or a partner.

“Three months is a common time frame,” he said, for a friendship to turn to courtship.

It’s a familiar story as people learn to take better care of themselves and want to enjoy companionship during their golden years.

“When people retire here, they’re not always looking for a relationship, but it happens,” said Debbie Cotugno, sales and marketing director at The Inn at Los Patios, a community for those 62 and older at 8700 Post Oak Lane, near Northeast Baptist Hospital.

“They meet someone they have a lot in common with – the military, or traveling. We have five or six couples here now who go out together,” she added.

Cotugno recalled the wedding last year of a couple who had known each other when both were happily married to other spouses. They had lost touch, and both became widowed over time.

However, they ran into each other again when they moved into The Inn, and love took root. The wedding and reception brought almost 70 friends and family to Los Patios.

Cotugno said she’s planning ceremonies for couples to renew their wedding vows at The Inn.

While every love is different, there are some common elements in the relationships.

For many San Antonio couples, experience in the military, or as a military spouse, opens a world of mutual experiences. Faith and family values are high on the list, along with shared interests, from playing bridge or reading to travel.

Many seniors are making new memories every day — and doing it together.

Shirley Jeffery, 92, and Ralph White, 91 (“I like older women,” he joked), are such a couple, falling in love a few years after Jeffery’s husband died.

Jeffery and her spouse moved to Morningside Ministries at The Meadows, a senior-living community at 730 Babcock Road, 13 years ago. When her husband died in 2010, they had been married more than 66 years. Jeffery, an award-winning artist, found a group of supportive friends at The Meadows, including White, a widower. When she fractured her neck a few years ago, White made daily visits as she recuperated at Morningside’s The Manor next door.

“He always said, ‘I know you’ll be back.’ And one day he patted me on the leg, and I said, ‘Wow!’ I knew right then,” Jeffery said. She painted White’s portrait, and they grew closer.

“We fell in love, and it’s wonderful,” White said. “We still have our own apartments at The Meadows, but we usually stay with each other.”


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