Back in the early 1990s, Gabe Vitalone, FCRH ’44, a developmental psychologist, gave a talk at Rutgers University titled “Adapting an Early Childhood Care Model to a Nursing Home.”
At the time, Vitalone was caring for his elderly mother, who had developed dementia. He recalled that on visiting his mother at the nursing home, he noticed that several of his contemporaries were becoming patients.
Vitalone began to espouse the idea of using early childhood education concepts for seniors at the end of life’s curve.
“My basic premise is that decline in physical, mental, social, emotional, and intellectual areas can be delayed by use,” Vitalone said in the speech.
At 93, Vitalone is still alert and healthy, but he acknowledges that slowing down is part of life. A lifetime of activity helped him form the habits that keep him running in the Senior Olympics year after year, and these days, he’s joined by his wife Evelyn, who started running until later in life but who has the fire of a competitor.
“Of course I’m in it to win,” she said. “I just keep trying and do my best.”