May is Older Americans Month (OAM), and the theme this year is “Age My Way.” That’s why we are bringing you stories from across metro Atlanta about the many ways older people remain in and are involved with their communities.
Prior to retiring, Christine Carroll ran medical practices and worked in various hospitals in California. She thrived in a fast-paced environment. She had big responsibilities that included scheduling surgeries, coding medical visits to bill insurers, and keeping revenue flowing in.
“I was very good at what I was doing, but I didn’t like it,” says Christine, who had studied art in college. “I was multitasking all the time. After I left my last job at a cardiology practice, three people were needed to do all my work.”
Christine, who is 63 years old, now lives a life with much less stress. And she’s less preoccupied about keeping her stuff in order all the time. “I was very intense about my school, my work. I like the fact that there’s a lot less stress in my life now,” she explains.
Christine worked for 28 years before taking early retirement in 2003, before she was 50. An accident she’d had in her 20s that flared up when she was working allowed her to take permanent disability. She then moved to the Atlanta area to take care of a family member.
She lives with her dog, Sailor, in Dacula, in a big two-story house on the side of a bluff, surrounded by green. “I can see all the trees around me,” she says.
Christine loves taking pictures of landscapes and enhancing them with oil, pastel, and acrylic paints, resulting in colorful works of art. She also likes to take photos of the sky and fill the clouds with tones of orange. “Of course there’s no fire in the sky, but that’s what I make them into,” she says.
She paints mermaids in mixed media, adding texture with shells and sand, creating sort of an “aquatic underworld”.
Christine also enjoys listening to the tunes of Nina Simone, U2, and Cold Play on DVD. “Listening to music keeps me company, and it makes me very happy to be singing along with the music,” she quips.
Living alone, Christine says, “is just freedom to me.” She admits she lives a pretty reclusive life and isolates herself from most people, except for her fellow churchgoers. She had no cell phone or laptop until the pandemic started, joking that she lived like “a cave woman”. Recently, Christine has been connecting with Judy, a volunteer of Empowerline’s One-2-One program, who checks in on her every week or two.
“We talk about music, family, girlfriend talk. She sends me links to sermons that I like. We listen to Nina Simone,” she says. “We talk like two friends, and I like that because it makes me feel like I have a connection to the outside world. I think it’s wonderful that there are people in this world who really care about others and reach out in order to enhance and enrich their lives.”
Through ARC’s Empowerline, Christine has been able to access some community resources and has signed up for meal delivery. This has made a huge difference in her life, , especially as food was always the last thing on her list, with medications and utilities being so expensive.
Every week, she gets seven containers filled with frozen food and individual packets of cereal and milk – enough for two meals a day plus snacks.
“I don’t have to cook, and I don’t have to worry about running out of food. I’ve actually gained some weight, and I’m healthier. I feel so grateful to be a recipient of ARC’s generosity,” shares Christine.
For more information about resources for older people and people with disabilities in the Metro Atlanta area, check out our Search for Services feature, or explore the Empowerline website to be connected with services & counseling.