Read it on Salon
Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (AP) — For the first time in her life, Marion Johnston says she feels old.
The petite 80-year-old retired school secretary who uses a walker is still adjusting as one of the newest residents at the Bristal Assisted Living retirement community. She moved in November after the howling winds and rising flood waters of Superstorm Sandy destroyed her Long Island waterfront condominium.
Johnston had often thought about moving, but Sandy revealed an uncomfortable truth: “I just can’t be on my own.”
Although New York and New Jersey health care officials say it’s too soon to confirm a spike, some senior care operators say they’ve seen a surge in older people relocating to assisted-living or retirement communities after Sandy. Prolonged power outages, wrecked homes and flooded streets have helped convince even the most stubborn seniors that they may not be capable of living independently.
“Very often you need that little push over the cliff to make you realize,” said Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein, director of geriatric education at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. She is not surprised to hear facilities are experiencing increased demand. “When your home is leaking and flooding and you’re sitting in the dark, you come to realize you no longer have the skills of survivorship.”
Maryellen McKeon, senior vice president of operations for Ultimate Care New York, LLC, which runs eight Bristal facilities in the New York area, said the company’s 5 percent vacancy vanished after the storm.
“We have the same thing after snowstorms or heat waves,” McKeon said. “Someone may be isolated in a house and realize, ‘My daughter was right,’ and the reality of your vulnerability sinks in.”
Wolf-Klein noted that the move to assisted living can be difficult.
“There’s an acceptance that the independence you cherished for a long time is now coming to an end,” she said. “There’s an acceptance of aging and time marching on.”
Johnston, a widow who raised three children with her late husband, had lived alone in an Amityville condo for the past 14 years. Amid dire storm warnings ahead of Sandy’s arrival, Johnston’s daughter took her mother to her home in nearby Lindenhurst. It was a prudent decision, since the condominium was destroyed by the storm surge, said the daughter, Linda Monaco.
“The canal came up and went through her entire house; water came in the back door and went out the front door,” Monaco said. Johnston has not wanted to return to see the destruction. “I have a china cabinet with Waterford crystal,” Johnston said, only to be corrected by her daughter: “You had a china cabinet; that’s shot.”
Although her own home was spared from flooding, Monaco said much of her community was not as fortunate. Several houses burned to the ground, and a neighborhood was without heat or electricity for two weeks. Monaco quickly realized she could not care for her mother, who was shivering under a mountain of blankets. Within days of Sandy’s departure, Monaco said she was lucky to find a space for her mother at the Bristal facility in Massapequa, about two miles from Johnston’s home.
Johnston still is adjusting to her new surroundings, where residents are monitored by staff and given three meals a day, plus a spectrum of activities from music appreciation seminars and Bingo to trips to Broadway shows.
“I have been an independent person,” Johnston said. “This is the first time in my life that I felt old, and it’s a little shocking. It is a tremendous emotional adjustment.”
Anne Pinter, senior vice president of the national assisted-living company Atria, said her company’s Northeast facilities saw an 18 percent increase in occupancy during October and November, compared with a year ago.
Patty Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Health Care Association of New Jersey — a trade group representing assisted living facilities and nursing homes — said there has been an increase in temporary admissions to assisted living facilities.
But she said it may be too soon to know if those seeking shelter while their homes are repaired will remain permanently. Pinter said her company typically sees about a 30 percent retention rate in those who initially move in temporarily and then opt for permanent residence.
Lorraine Miller lived in her ranch house in the Harbor Isle community of Island Park for 41 years until four feet of water came gushing in during the storm. Miller, who turned 84 on Dec. 24, used to work as a dental assistant for her late husband. He children had been prodding her for years to sell the house and move to assisted living. She finally relented after the storm.
“I really didn’t want to go because I love my home,” she said. But Sandy was the clincher that convinced her to move; she now lives at an Atria facility in Lynbrook. “I can’t go back at this age and start buying furniture and appliances and all the rest. I’m better off here where I get three delicious meals a day and they come and clean up your apartment and make your bed. What could be better?”
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
Read it on Salon