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Como resident becomes a centenarian

Posted on 09 March 2016 by Calvin

His secret? ”You should choose your parents very carefully,” he notes with a smile


Bill Treumann, a resident of Como by the Lake Senior Apartments, is proof that staying phy­sically and mentally active can im­prove the quality and quan­tity of your years. Treumann turned 100 on Feb. 26. When asked the secret to his longevity, he smiled and said, ”You should choose your parents very carefully.”

Block Nurse Program 02Image right: NE-SC Block Nurse Program executive director Chris Langer (left), Bill Treumann (center) and wellness coordinator Molly Fitzel (right) at Como by the Lake Senior Apartments. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Current research shows that while genetics matter, there are other factors that are just as important. Treumann displays the optimism, good humor and sense of community connection that researchers say support aging long and well.

The centenarian was born in 1916, midway through World War I, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. At age 16, he contracted tuberculosis and would spend a total of 1,009 days in a sanatorium over the next few years.

Sanatoriums were commonplace in the first half of the 1900’s: hospital settings where people with long-term, chronic illness could rest and recover in the days before antibiotics were available.
Treumann was able to return to finish high school in 1936. During his first year in the sanatorium, he had a roommate who was a chemistry graduate student. Treumann read all of his textbooks and found them so interesting that he chose chemistry as his own life’s work.

He enrolled at North Dakota State University in 1937, had to return to the sanitarium to heal his lungs for another year, and then completed his chemistry degree. He would go on to earn his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University Of Illinois.

During one of his sanatorium stays, Treumann read Harry Frank’s book, “A Vagabond Journey Around the World.” It tells the story of a young man who sets out to see Europe with only $3.18 in his pocket. The author’s travels in Europe were so successful that he kept going, eventually circling the globe.

In a similar style, Treumann longed for adventure. Before starting his doctorate program, he took several months to hitch-hike across the United States, seeing every state except Oregon and Hawaii. “I visited Alaska when it was still a territory,” he said proudly.

He wasn’t ready to stop yet, so his travels took him across Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, through Mexico and Cuba.

Following graduate school, Treumann married his first wife—whom he had met at the sanatorium. She would die at the age of 30. He married again to a woman who, like himself, was a professor.
Treumann started his teaching career in Fargo, North Dakota, before moving across the Red River to Moorhead. He would finish his long academic career as Dean of Mathematical and Natural Sciences there.

At 100, Treumann is still quite physically mobile, and his memory is uncannily sharp. One of the things he most looks forward to is the bridge game that takes place every Wednesday in the lobby of his apartment building.

Chris Langer, executive director of the North End-South Como (NE-SC) Block Nurse Program, organized the bridge club for Treumann several months ago. She knew how much he liked to play and realized there weren’t any other players in the building. She asked three bridge-playing friends of hers, and they were happy to volunteer. Treumann is an excellent player, and his 100-year-old mind doesn’t struggle with the complexities of the game.

Langer said, “Friendly visits like these are just one of the ways our block nurse program helps keep the elderly engaged and connected. A community that has a diverse population in every way, including age, is a stronger community.”

The NE-SC Block Nurse Program is one of 26 programs of its kind throughout the state of Minnesota. Part of the Living-at-Home Network, this non-profit organization helps seniors stay in their homes, improves their quality of life and strengthens neighborhoods by not isolating the elderly.

They contract for medical services through Recover Health, a Medicare-certified agency offering in-home health care with nurses, health aides, and physical therapists.

The senior apartment complex Como by the Lake is one of the locations where the NE-SC Block Nurse Program provides services. Located at 901 East Como Blvd. in the South Como neighborhood, there are several benefits being offered to seniors living in the area at little to no cost.

Molly Fitzel is the health and wellness coordinator for the program. She teaches a free Chair Yoga class at 11am on Monday and Thursday mornings in the Community Room. This non-strenuous form of exercise helps improve flexibility, balance, and strength. “The movements build a healthy sense of body awareness,” Fitzel said, “and the closing meditation leaves participants feeling calm, restored and happy.” Call Molly at 651-487-5135 to learn more or to sign up.

On Monday thru Friday at noon, a nutritious lunch is served in the Community Room of Como by the Lake. The suggested donation is $3.50 for persons over 60, but no one is turned away for inability to pay. An intake can be done over the phone by calling Optage Senior Dining 651-746-8280.

The NE-SC Block Nurse Program offers volunteer opportunities for people in the neighborhood. “It’s so important to look out for your neighbors,” Langer said. “We welcome volunteers to help with raking, shoveling, grocery shopping, household chores and friendly visiting, among other things.”

Questions about volunteering can be directed to volunteer coordinator Jamie Schlough at 651-489-4067.

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