PACE Participant Celebrates 101 Years

CCANO’s PACE is proud to honor Ida Cesana, the oldest and only centenarian enrolled in the PACE GNO program at the Shirley Landry Benson PACE Center at St. Cecilia. Ida started coming to the adult day health center five days a week last fall, receiving transportation from her house to the center and back. PACE provides her medication at home and nursing care in the center with clinic visits on a monthly basis.

Born in 1918, Ida Bersano Cesana grew up in Torino, Italy. At a young age, Ida took a great interest in dance and eventually became a prima ballerina with a touring ballet company and a ballet dancer for the circus. A big soccer fan, she was the first woman to start a “futbol” team in Torino. During WWII, she married Augusto Cesana, an Italian soldier who became her daughter Elsa’s stepdad. In 1947, the family to Venezuela where Ida opened a restaurant and had her second child, George.

Eventually, Ida and Augusto applied for a permit to become U.S. citizens for better opportunities for their children’s education. While waiting for their visa, Ida and Augusto sent Elsa ahead of them to live with an American family in the Greater New Orleans area. Ida, Augusto, and their young son George joined Elsa in New Orleans four years later.

While living in New Orleans, Ida worked for a local restaurant and eventually became a caretaker. Ida always loved travelling and visited Egypt, Thailand, Spain, and Germany. When Ida stopped her caretaking job, she moved back to Italy but returned to New Orleans to live with her daughter permanently after the passing of her son-in-law. There are currently four generations of the Cesana family living in New Orleans.

Brenda, a PACE CNA worker who cares for Ida, has been impressed with her vitality and level of engagement in the PACE program, noting that Ida is much more active than she was when previously relegated to her home 6 months age. This includes social activities and recreation, such as dancing with Daryl, a PACE physical therapist. Her demeanor has been more uplifting and happy because she is socializing more. Brenda shares, “Ida is always so thankful, polite, and sweet, which adds so much joy to my day.” The PACE family marvels at all that Ida has and continues to accomplish and wish Ida and her family a very happy and joyous 101st year.