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Four centenarians keep positive attitudes in Canton’s Maplewood facility

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CANTON — Doris E. Dominie joked she’s the “young chick” in the group.

At 100 years old, Mrs. Dominie is the youngest of the four centenarians now residing at United Helpers’ Assisted Living Neighborhood on Maplewood Campus, State Street Road.

She’s a few years behind her fellow residents Sherman L. Ayers and Ann K. Scott, who are 104, and Allie E. Harden, 103.

Following a nationwide trend, a growing number of the facility’s residents are well into their 90s, said Patience F. Boswell, the facility’s activities director.

The 144 residents at Maplewood include 54 who are 90 or older.

Mrs. Boswell notices common traits among those who make it to 100 and beyond.

“These are people who are very positive,” Mrs. Boswell said. “They seem to have a particular will to keep going.”

She’s also observed a connection between longevity and those who have a strong support network of family and close friends.

“They all have a lot of visitors and support,” she said. “I think it really makes a difference.”

Sometimes, she said, just wanting to stay around to see the next great-grandchild arrive is enough motivation to keep older people going.

When Bernard A. Besio, a social worker, started his United Helpers position in 1975, people were considered old when they reached 65, he said.

That was 38 years ago and a lot has changed in the world of geriatrics.

“Older people are much more health-conscious and active than they used to be,” he said. “They’re jogging, they’re biking.”

He believes the facility’s oldest resident was 120 when she died in the 1980s.

“That woman was born when Lincoln was still president,” Mr. Besio said.

Many older people also enjoy the fact they know a lot of history younger generations find interesting.

“They are a tremendous resource and they are proud of that,” Mr. Besio said. “They enjoy talking about what happened 50 or 60 years ago.”

Genetics and avoiding depression are two other factors that have been linked to longevity, he said.

Mrs. Dominie reached the century milestone in February.

A lifelong farmer, she said she worked hard and never had time to think about getting older.

“I’m very fortunate. It was a hard life, but it was a good life,” she said.

She also tries to learn something new every day by asking questions and getting out as much as she can. She still participates in outings to Walmart, the Akwesasne Mohawk casino and boat trips.

“I don’t want to just sit here like a dumbbell,” she joked.

Mrs. Scott, the facility’s oldest resident, spent years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Morley.

A Massachusetts native who moved to Colton, Mr. Ayers worked as an electrician for Niagara Mohawk. Many of his Colton friends visit him.

Mrs. Harden, a Colton native who also lived on Wellesley Island, worked as a nurse’s aide and had a daughter.

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