What Our Mothers Taught Us About “Senior Living”.
At SGD Advertising, we consider ourselves as experts in senior marketing. We’ve successfully positioned, repositioned, branded and rebranded a wide variety of independent living, assisted living and memory care communities, as well as hearing aid manufacturers and other industries focused on mature audiences.
One factor that separates us from our competitors is that we’re all seniors ourselves and have had personal experience with the emotional exhaustion of caring for our parents.
And in doing so, we’ve learned quite a bit on what our mothers taught us about senior living.
Ines Sabatella, AKA “Mama Sab”, passed at 95
Born in Polla, Italy in 1920, Ines Sabatella was the youngest of 15 children in a town of 300+ residents. Growing up, she and her siblings had a hand in creating wonderful Italian pastries and desserts in the bakery and restaurant that her parents owned. It was there at the age of 9 where Ines met her future husband, Luigi, the youngest of 13 children.
At the tender age of 16, Luigi traveled by ship to Bronx, New York to work at his older brother’s house painting business. Before leaving Polla, he told Ines that he was going to America and will return to marry her once he establishes a business there.
In 1942, Luigi enlisted in the US Army, 19th Infantry. While fighting at Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, he suffered wounds from machine gun fire and was honorably discharged with a Purple Heart in 1945.
Keeping his promise to Ines, he returned to Polla in 1946 and the two were married. After their honeymoon, they moved to the Bronx where he started a successful business and a family of four children. In 1956, the family moved to Southern California and made South Pasadena their permanent home.
Ines was a homemaker who took great pride in preparing Italian meals from scratch. She was the perfect hostess for the numerous birthdays and holiday gatherings that were well attended by relatives and friends as well as the 57 annual New Year’s Eve parties that lasted until her passing in 2016.
She and Luigi alternated as President of the Italian Catholic Federation, Branch 108 for 35 years. Through families and fellowship, the Italian Catholic Federation promoted and supported the Catholic faith and its values, encouraged apostolic and charitable works, and celebrated the Italian American heritage.
Ines was known as “Mama Sab” not only by her children, their friends and grandchildren but also by everyone who knew her.
Her home was her castle where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. And as her physical ability prevented her from doing all the cooking and activities that she so tirelessly enjoyed most of her life, it was her adult children and grandchildren that returned the favor. Each took their turn throughout the course of their work day rotating their time to make sure that Mama Sab was being cared for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Pearl Zeimer, 101½ years young
A San Francisco, CA native born in 1917, Pearl has always been fascinated by fashion and clothing. A mere 5’2” and 100 lbs., Pearl graduated from Commerce High School, was reared in The City’s Fillmore District, then went to work downtown as a stenographer and secretary for about 10 years.
Always known for her flashy hats and fancy dresses, she married Daniel Zeimer in 1944 during WWII. They settled down in San Francisco’s Sunset District and had three children, including twin boys.
Pearl and Danny were married for 51 years, moving north of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971––out of the fog and into the warmer weather of Marin County. He worked in the women’s clothing business; she occasionally helped him and still enjoys showing off her wardrobe when she can.
Since Danny passed away in 1995, Pearl has remained fiercely independent. She enjoyed driving, shopping, cooking for her family, reading veraciously, playing Mah Jong, attending Broadway shows, watching TV and movies, and returning shoes to Nordstrom’s until she was 98.
Now, at 101½, she is still feisty, which has kept her going as a widow for 24 years. She is aging in place at the same condo. Because of dementia-like symptoms with short-term memory loss caused by a car accident, she now has 24/7 care at home.
Today, Pearl especially enjoys spending time with her three adult children, five granddaughters and three great-grandchildren who all live in California.
Madeline Reiter, 86 years young
A native of Chicago, Il, Madeline grew up during the Great Depression as the youngest of seven children. Her father was a milkman. His wagon was pulled by two horses, Bessy and Missy, who were dearly loved by Madeline.
All of her brothers fought in WWII including Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Bulge. She moved across the country when she was 12 to live with relatives in Oakland, CA. She married there and then raised six children, all of whom graduated from college and/or professional schools.
Once she got her last child through high school, she went back to school herself and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Education. Eventually, she went on to obtain two Masters degrees and multiple credentials. She loved teaching and tried to retire twice, each time being coaxed back to work by school officials who insisted that she was irreplaceable. She finally called it quits when she was 81.
She now dotes on her eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Living on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland in an independent living community with her second husband, she enjoys playing bridge, has an active social life, reads many books and keeps in constant contact via text messages to her son, Duff, during Golden State Warriors games.
What we’ve learned from our Mothers.
Collectively, our Moms taught us to be good husbands, to be loyal sons and to be patient with our children.
We’ve learned countless lessons about life, about how to deal with its emotional ups and downs, as well as how to ride its financial roller coaster.
Above all, our Mothers have taught us that time is not an endless resource and that we should enjoy the little things that make every day precious.
SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded companies that market to seniors, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Authors As the “S”, “G” and “D” of SGD Advertising, Paschal Sabatella, Gil Zeimer and Duff Reiter have specialized in senior / boomer, healthcare, lifestyle, financial, travel / leisure and technology brands since 1984.