‘Whoo-hoo’: A day in the spotlight for S.F. senior citizens

Group offers freebies, shows ‘it’s a fallacy to say that as you get older, you can’t look good’

Bunnie Simmel’s makeover Sunday drew applause from dozens of residents, friends and family members gathered at the Sunrise Senior Living facility at Golden Gate Park.

The 94-year-old San Francisco native had eyebrows painted on, her hair styled and donned an airy pink paisley blouse before strutting before an adoring crowd.

Simmel and fellow resident Sally Smith, 76, were transformed by makeup, hair and wardrobe professionals at the assisted living center in the Sunset on Sunday as part of a special service project for seniors.

Home Instead Senior Care offered the two senior makeovers as part of its community service offerings, said Betty Burr, retirement coach and gerontologist for the for-profit agency. Sunday marked the first of its kind in San Francisco, Burr said.

The international firm provides non-medical care, including companionship and assistance with day-to-day activities, for seniors.

“They’re beautiful,” said fellow resident Esther Scheele, who sat in the front row as the afternoon makeovers got under way.

“It’s good for old people. We need to be made over. Look how beautiful they are.”

Smith, a retired nurse from Pennsylvania who moved to the center about a year-and-a-half ago to be closer to her son, caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror after putting on a new pant suit in her favorite color: purple.

“Whoo-hoo! Who’s that in the mirror?” Smith quipped as she prepared to show off her new outfit Sunday.

The 76-year-old, who isn’t fond of discussing her age, said it felt “good and different” to be made over.

“It’s a fallacy to say that as you get older, you can’t look good,” Burr said.

Burr said research shows that the health of seniors improves with their self-esteem and self-image.

Beauty consultant Angela Rooker, who worked as a makeup artist, likened her work Sunday to caring for her own mother.

“We’re all going to be there (seniors) someday,” Rooker said.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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