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Sunshine Retirement Living Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2019

Category Archives: Independent living

Sunshine Retirement Living Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2019

Congrats to every Sunshine poet!
You took the time,
To make it rhyme,
And weren’t afraid to show it.

The above feeble example of an ABBA rhyming scheme can mean only one thing: Sunshine Retirement Living has just announced the winners of our annual Poetry Contest. You can download a copy of the booklet here.

This year’s contest was organized by Leslie Trevino, Life Enhancement Director at Brooke Ridge in Pharr, Texas, and

“This year, we explored the topic of ‘Transitioning into Retirement,’” said Leslie. “We knew it would be something everyone could relate to – joyful and inspiring for many, challenging and bittersweet for others – and that was indeed the case.”

For the judging, Leslie recruited three friends and family members who are also published writers and poets – Kathy Egbert of Leander, Texas, Sandra Paredes of McAllen, Texas, and David Bryant from Copperas Cove, Texas. Bryant is also a reporter for the Killeen DailyHerald.

Judging was based on the following criteria:

  • 50% on how well it deals with the chosen theme
  • 30% on Creativity
  • 20% on how well it’s written

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Overall, this year’s competition was smaller than last year’s but had more communities represented. That diversity was evidenced in the three highest award winners. The 1st Place Winner of a $50 Gift Card was penned by Alice Sweeney of Garden Way in Eugene, Oregon.

My Golden Years

“Fancy clothes and Cadillacs” The fortune cookie said.
Aches and pains and cataracts are what I got instead.
My knees are getting wobbly, and I wake up in a skin
More wrinkled than pajamas that I’d tossed the whole night in.
Everybody mumbles, so I can’t hear what they say.
I’d forget it anyhow. My memory’s gone astray.
But I know God still loves me, and I’ve friends who cheer me on,
So I don’t worry ‘bout the vim and vigor that are gone.
And I still have some body parts that never do get sore.
So I just count my blessings, and then I feel young once more.

– Alice W. Sweeney

The 2nd Place Winner of a $30 Gift Card was a lengthy tome by Jane Cocke Perdue from The Clairmont in Austin, Texas.

Parade of Elders

The day arrives quickly – surprising us!
Workplace demands have ended,
sending us into another stage of changes,
gravity pulling us toward a center
like moths circling light.
From places near and far
we come as pioneers of old
searching for a new home.
Arriving with trepidation and hesitation,
greeted by the sight of a grand procession
we stand and watch with fascination─

Steering his power chair
like the tank commander
he was in Viet Nam,
he sits erect,
looking straight ahead,
speeding toward the dining room.

She clutches the handlebars
of her well-worn walker,
her daily life-line,
gently lifting and lowering the frame
in steady rhythm
with each painful step.

He shuffles slowly,
shoes scraping the carpet,
right side leaning toward the wall,
knowing he can balance against it
to avoid a fall.

A wheeled chair rolls slowly
down one corridor,
tenderly and carefully pushed
by a partner
of over fifty years.

Each person in this parade of elders
determined to navigate
the long halls of the golden age
from their apartment
to the dining room
to nourish their bodies with good food
and their souls with friendship
and conversation─

We know with the wisdom
of this life phase,
we have found our home
and this parade of elders
will soon become our friends.

– Jane Cocke Perdue

Shirley Laundy from The Continental in Austin also went to great lengths with were poem and was rewarded with 3rd Place and a $20 Gift Card.

Transitioning Into Retirement

Easing into retirement? It all
goes in stages –
Changing, evolving as each
person ages.
For me it began with excitement
and fun.
As I played with my love in
the Florida sun.
The kids came to visit – then
grandkids – a bonus!
They moved far out west but,
oh well! They’d still phone us.
But as years sped on by it
was harder to travel.
My idyllic existence began to
unravel.
Friends faded away. There were
fewer vacations.
The ER was one of our prime
destinations.

Then one day I awoke and my
dreams were all shattered.
I faced life alone and I felt
nothing mattered.
Yet time eases pain and after
a while.
I went on with my life – even
started to smile.
My days settled into a
pleasant routine.
My home was my castle. I
reigned there as queen.
I gladly flew westward for
special occasions –
Weddings and birthdays – no
missed celebrations.
Not even my 90th! Yikes!
Could this be true?
Was I really that old? Now
what should I do?
My far away family was
worried and so
I decided ‘twas time just
to pack up and go.

So now I’m in Texas with
family at hand
Trying retirement home living
and so far it’s grand.
The staff here is gracious. I
like my new pad.
Most people are friendly. The
food isn’t bad.
So I thank the dear Lord for
this thrilling new chapter
In my quest to seek life
happily ever after.

– Shirley Laundy

Congratulations to the winners and all those who participated in this year’s contest. Whether it’s expressed through poetry or a warm smile, we are delighted to help so many who are transitioning into retirement and to do whatever we can to create your happily ever after.

This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, June 2019.

Engaging Activities For Your Lake Charles Memory Care Facility Visit

Making the most of your scheduled time with us

Your experiences during facility visits often drive your decisions when it comes to memory care. During your visit to Lake Charles memory care community The Verandah, we recommend you take full advantage and participate in a number of engaging activities to ensure you’re able to make a decision with all of the information available to you.

Based on our own residents’ experiences and input, here’s what we recommend you do while you’re here:

#1 – Visit with our current residents and their families

You’ll see them in the common areas and green spaces during your visit, so we encourage you to say hello and pull up a chair when you do. Our current residents can tell you more about living at The Verandah, and many of them moved here from other local communities and care to share those experiences with you, too. Ask them tough questions:

  • Do they recommend living here?
  • Is there anything they don’t like about it?
  • Is the monthly rent predictable? Do the staff honor their preferences and routines?

We’ve always said that our past and present residents are our best marketers. They’re always eager to share their experiences with us and others, driving us to become the best at what we do.

#2 – Have dinner on us

Whether prospective residents are interested in Assisted Living or our specialized Alzheimer’s and Memory Care programs, food is always an important factor. Assisted living folks are often seeking opportunities to cook less at home (while keeping the option open so they can cook when they choose to) without sacrificing the flavors they love. Memory care residents have an added interested in dining, as reduced appetite is common, and nutrition plays a key role in their cognitive health.

We can answer all of your questions about our specialized, gourmet menu options – following the recommendations of the MIND diet – but we’d also like you to experience it for yourself. Take advantage of a free meal during your site visit so you know exactly what to expect here as you make your decision.

#3 – Attend an event or activity

If you let our friendly staff know what you or your loved one enjoy doing most when you call to schedule your visit, we’ll be happy to choose a time that coincides with an activity or event that will pique their interest. Examples include Wheel of Fortune, fitness classes, video games, Zumba, and local outings.

Attending an activity or event while you’re here serves a number of purposes:

  • It can give you a real-life taste of the culture at The Verandah
  • It can help you meet people early on, easing anxiety about the transition
  • It can give you an idea of the activity offerings, level of participation, and fit for your lifestyle

We’ve also found that many residents express that while they’re looking for more adventure and social opportunities, they want the opportunity to choose which activities speak to them and whether they feel up to attending or not. Attending an activity gives prospective residents an opportunity to learn more about the other participants.

Friends and family members of residents in our Alzheimer’s and Memory Care programs often express worry that their loved one will be excluded from activities due to disruptive behaviors or decline in cognitive health. Many of those concerned have found that attending our specialized programming during their site visit quickly eased their worries.

To visit The Verandah Retirement Community in Lake Charles, call 337-508-0396 today. We can’t wait to meet you.

How Senior Living in New Orleans Looks Today Compared to the Past (Not Your Momma’s Retirement Community)

Three major changes to retirement communities in New Orleans, LA

Senior living today is hardly recognizable compared to it’s 1950s counterpart. Here are the major changes that have taken the industry by storm since then.

The facilities have changed

Healthcare Segment Leader at Granger Construction, Jon Update describes the evolution of senior living facilities over the past several decades. 50 years ago, senior living communities were designed and built with one purpose: to provide for the healthcare needs of the aging population. Because the focus was primarily or even entirely on healthcare, these senior living communities didn’t look so different from a hospital or inpatient ward.

However, the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s led to a revolution in senior care. It was during this time that organizations began to change their vision from providing healthcare to providing a retirement lifestyle featuring comfort and luxury. And so the buildings themselves evolved; many rebuilt, including shops and services on site, restaurant-like dining rooms, grand views, peaceful walking paths, and more.

The staffing models have changed

While retirement communities of the past were staffed primarily by nurses and orderlies, today’s retirement communities have a much different schedule. Clinical staff are still important in communities where assisted living or memory care are offered, but perhaps the greatest investment is in staff selected to contribute to a luxurious retirement:

  • Life enrichment staff, who are hired to design and deliver life enrichment programs including activities, events, outings, self-care and other entertainment
  • Concierges, who are hired to ensure our residents have immediate access to everything they need, whether it’s help with groceries or dining recommendations
  • Drivers, who are hired to offer free, safe transportation to and from local shops and businesses on weekdays
  • Gourmet chefs, who design a healthy, flavorful menu and lead a team of experienced staff to prepare these meals and deliver a positive guest experience
  • Beauticians, who offer self-care in-house for resident rest and convenience
  • Security guards, who offer peace of mind during retirement years

Today, more staff are available simply for resident luxury than ever before.

Their place in the market has changed

How seniors view retirement living has evolved as communities have evolved to meet their needs. Healthcare-focused senior living communities of the past were often at odds with their own residents; that is, residents moved in because they had to, not because they wanted to. Perhaps an even greater issues was the discord resulting in families when mom or dad had to be placed in a facility for better long-term care, essentially taking away the things that brought them fulfillment at home. Retirees often asked, “Why did you do this to me?” or, “Why can’t I go home?”

Today, the vast majority of retirees we meet with are asking different questions:

  • “Can I afford this lifestyle?”
  • “What changes do I have to make to make sure I can afford this lifestyle soon?”
  • How soon can I move in?”

As we’ve been at the center of the evolution of senior care, we’ve seen these independent living communities become a luxury and a life goal for seniors in New Orleans. We’ve seen more and more seniors incorporate our communities into their retirement plans and then wait eagerly for move-in day.

The greatest benefit to these changes? Seniors today make their own choice to move in and experience the resort-style retirement they’ve earned, eliminating the hurt feelings between parents or grandparents and loved ones making decisions about their care.

To learn more about the modern amenities at The Landing at Behrman Place, schedule your visit and tour today. We’re eager to meet you.

Independent Living in Hot Springs, AR is Heating Up This Summer

6 reasons seniors take the plunge this time of year

Any time is a good time to explore the lifestyle you want, but we see a peak in new residents in early summer. Here’s why.

#1 – To take advantage of comfortable temps

Taking the plunge now means you can pack your things and get them moved before we hit those July and August highs or those December and January lows in Hot Springs. April, May, and June offer temps ranging from about 50 to 89 degrees, making moving easiest for those who don’t want to be exposed to extreme hot or cold.

#2 – To get out of yard work

When you move in late Spring or early Summer, you take full advantage of the gardening that comes with independent living communities, which means you can enjoy beautiful grounds and green spaces, contribute to those projects in whatever way you choose, but never feel tied down as the work continues when you’re on vacation or not in the mood to spend time weeding.

#3 – To avoid those air conditioning bills

Predicting your monthly expenses when you live at home (often on a fixed income) can be a challenge. Not only do you have to plan for major appliance repairs and regular home maintenance, but air conditioning in the summer months can cause unpredictable hikes in your energy bill. A number of our residents have shared that knowing those air conditioning bills were just around the corner was a factor in their decision; it helped them justify the retirement lifestyle they want and make decisions without delay.

#4 – To access affordable travel for the summer

It’s during these months that many of us aim to see places we’ve never seen before or go visit our loved ones who live far away. Many of our residents start exploring their options in the spring so that by early summer they’re settling in and making plans, taking full advantage of our travel program. Country Club Village’s travel program offers residents the opportunity to travel to 26 other sister communities nestled into some of the most beautiful cities in the United States, enjoying free dining, lodging, and activities while they’re there. This allows residents to cut down on travel costs, enjoy adventure, visit loved ones, and make new friends all year long. Independent living also supports travel by ensuring your home and yard are maintained while you’re away.

#5 – To enjoy the summer months

Retirement communities offer an adventurous and luxurious lifestyle marked by fewer responsibilities and obligations and more opportunity to make new friends, soak up the sun, and experience local culture and events. Early summer is the perfect time to move into an independent living community so you can enjoy access to tons of local events, all of the summer fun within the community, free local transportation, and camaraderie with neighbors and new friends.

#6 – To eat barbeque they didn’t cook themselves

Even those who love to cook often find that cooking becomes a chore during the hottest months of the year. Independent Living offers you the best of both worlds: the option to cook when you’d like to and the option to enjoy gourmet meals and snacks prepared by a chef when you’d rather not. Because 24/7 dining is included in the regular cost of rent, there is no increase in cost when you choose to “dine out” and enjoy the meals offered by the community.

To learn more, schedule a tour of Country Club Village today!

Senior Apartments in Dunwoody GA Offer the Best Independent Living

Dunwoody Pines Offers hard-to-find Amenities

When you tour senior apartments for rent in Dunwoody, Georgia, there are a few things you can expect nearly everywhere you go:

  • Dining options to make meal preparation and cooking optional rather than required
  • Light housekeeping services (vacuuming, scrubbing, and dusting, for example)
  • Outdoor space open for resident use
  • Common areas large enough to host your friends and family
  • 24/7 staffing for security and emergencies

At Dunwoody Pines, our goal isn’t to meet your needs but to exceed your wildest dreams. This is your retirement and you worked hard to get here! Here’s what we offer above and beyond other communities to give you an adventurous, relaxing, and luxurious retirement experience:

  • A Greenhouse to Nurture your Green Thumb and Therapeutic Outdoor Hobbies
  • A Cozy, in-house theater to make movie nights feel like a night out on the town (for free!)
  • An all-inclusive cost model, which means you know exactly what you’ll spend from one month to the next with no surprises, leaving more money for travel and the things you love the most
  • Rooms with a view, overlooking the atrium-style dining area and bustling activity
  • Multiple floor plan options so you can find exactly what you like once you choose the Dunwoody Pines community
  • Move-in coordination to alleviate the common worries that accompany moving, like finding a realtor and coordinating the packers and movers
  • A home for your pets so you can enjoy the therapeutic benefits that having a cat or dog can offer (feeling of safety and security, decreased risk of depression, companionship, etc.)
  • A unique travel program that gives you the opportunity to stay in nearly 30 different Sunshine Retirement Communities throughout some of the most beautiful areas in the United States with access to dining, lodging, and activities at no extra cost while you’re there
  • Grand common spaces equipped with tables, pool, board games, greenery, and lots of natural light to make it easy to stay social and enjoy the company of friends
  • Unlimited access to a private swimming pool where you can enjoy a cool-down during hot summer months or an invigorating water aerobics class once a week
  • The services you need most under the same roof for your convenience: doctor, hair salon, gym, library, and computer center

Complementing the full range of amenities at Dunwoody Pines is a calendar that leaves nothing to be desired. You can expect a weekly rendition of Are you smarter than a 5th grader? and a monthly staff cook-off alongside a full stack of other creative activities to make it easy to have fun. Many residents call the community “The Cruise Ship” Dunwoody Pines due to the resemblance between this community and high-end cruise vacations.

Whether you’re seeking community living options in Dunwoody because you’re ready to put your feet up and enjoy the simple life you earned or because you want to make new friends and experience new things, Dunwoody Pines is the community you’ve been looking for. Every aspect of the community is intentional, designed with the purpose to create a warm, inviting, and fun-filled retirement that’s all about you.

Invest in you. Schedule your community tour to meet our fun, friendly team and learn more about Dunwoody Pines today – you earned it and you deserve it!

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, May, 2019

Sunshine’s Easy-Move Program Makes Independent Living in Eugene Easy

We visit with modern retirees all the time who have been exploring retirement communities in Oregon – primarily for the amenities and community environment – but dread the thought of coordinating a move. They worry about coordinating real estate agents to sell their current home, movers to get their belongings from their previous home to their new apartment or cottage, and even cleaners to prepare their home for showing on the market and a potential sale.

As we asked questions to learn more about these prospective residents, we were surprised to learn that it was the cost of services that concerned them as much as coordinating the communication, contracts, and arrangements. When they’re ready to settle down and enjoy retirement, they simply aren’t interested in scheduling meetings and making phone calls and handling the complex details that surround a life change like this one.

For that reason, Sunshine Retirement Living has answered the call by offering a free Easy-Move program to residents in all of its communities, including Garden Way in Eugene, Oregon. The Easy-Move program takes away the stress of coordination so you can choose the retirement you want and let the pieces fall into place. This program includes coordination of moving services in addition to a myriad of other services to make your transition smooth and peaceful for you.

Easy-Move Services

Garden Way’s Easy-Move staff have relationships with several local organizations who specialize in each aspect of the transition to retirement living. Some of the services they’re able to provide through these unique partnerships include:

  • Financial Services to assist you in the financial planning aspect of evaluating the feasibility of retirement living, planning for income during retirement, and protecting your assets
  • Pack and Move Services through local and regional moving companies, who can both pack up your belongings and get them moved into your new apartment so you don’t have to do it yourself
  • Home Selling Assistance through local real estate professionals who specialize in getting maximum dollar for your property in the Eugene area, providing assistance with both marketing and closing
  • Veterans Assistance offering additional discounts and benefits to those who have served our country
  • Furniture Packages, providing you with options for highly discounted furniture and decor to make your new apartment practical, beautiful, and comfortable
  • Help with Downsizing to help you determine which items can come with without cramping your style
  • Move-in Coordination to make the entire process as easy and organized as possible so you can get to the luxurious retirement lifestyle you want just a little sooner (and with much less stress!)

Although these partners do charge a fee for their services, you’ll never be for coordination of services through Garden Way.

Taking the Next Step

Many retirees have shared that they may not have moved forward with their dream retirement without access to the Easy-Move program. Knowing that you have a team of experts available to coordinate moving services and provide support along the way might be just what you need to take the next step.

*When it comes to independent living Eugene’s Garden Way checks all the boxes: Schedule a site visit today to get connected with all the services you need to enjoy your retirement to the fullest.

6 Reasons to Consider an Austin Senior Community for Retirement

How you spend your golden retirement years is a very personal decision. After spending a lifetime hard at work – inside the home, outside the home, or both – only you can decide how you spend your hard-earned retirement.

We find that many retirees who choose a retirement community cite six primary reasons. Here they are.

#1 – A Simpler Life.

After the hard work that comes with raising a family, building a home, or growing a career, many retirees are ready for a simpler lifestyle that only requires cooking, cleaning, and gardening when they so desire. With monthly rent that often includes housekeeping services, home maintenance, and 24/7 dining options, retirement communities answer the call.

#2 – Friendship and Camaraderie.

When you’re working or raising a family, connections are a natural part of your day. But establishing and maintaining friendships during requirement can be a little more challenging, especially if you aren’t interested in driving in Austin traffic. Many retirees choose to spend their years in an Austin retirement community because making friends and staying connected is nearly effortless.

#3 – Convenience.

Having everything you need in one place can make all the difference in the world. On-site salons, dining options, and gyms mean less travel and more luxury. Perhaps even more important, free local transportation means you can get to and from appointments and local retailers without the stress of Austin traffic.

#4 – Adventure.

With fewer responsibilities at home – like home maintenance and housekeeping – Austin senior community residents are more mobile in general. They can travel, visit friends and family, or simply enjoy adventure in their retirement without worry about home.

Additionally, retirement communities promote adventure by providing free local transportation and planning frequent outings and adventures for residents. Lady Bird Lake, McKinney Falls State Park, and Mount Bonnell are well within your reach when you choose all-inclusive independent living in Austin.

#5 – Fixed Expenses.

Expenses vary substantially at home; a high electric bill or broken washing machine can quickly derail your budget. All-inclusive retirement communities offer the convenience and luxury of senior community living at one low cost, which means you can predict what you’ll spend every single month, allowing you to spend more on the things you want to spend on and less on the things you have to spend on.

#6 – Peace of Mind.

Finally, a number of retirees choose community living for security and peace of mind. Residents are safe in their own apartments due to deadbolts on every unit and staff presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Response time in case of a medical emergency is substantially less than response time for those who live at home as a result of on-site staff. A quick call to our 24/7 front desk gets help directly to your apartment in just a matter of moments.

One important thing to note – and a frequent concerned voiced by prospective residents – is that you can maintain your independence in a senior living community. In fact, most residents don’t need any help at all with their personal cares or activities of daily living; they simply enjoy the convenience and luxury of community living.

To learn more about senior living options in Austin, schedule to visit The Clairmont today. Our staff are compassionate about luxurious retirement and eager to share the experience with you (and answer all of your pressing questions). Sample the cuisine, tour an apartment, and find out whether this option is within your budget during your on-site visit.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, March, 2019.

How Senior Living Residents in Dunwoody Utilize Our Travel Program

Sunshine Retirement Living offers residents of Dunwoody Pines – its Dunwoody retirement community – access to a unique travel program that includes free lodging, meals, and activities in thirteen beautiful cities across six states in the US. And what we’ve found in the years we’ve offered this program? That our residents are both imaginative and adventurous, taking advantage of this special offering in a myriad of creative ways. Here’s what they’re doing.

Visiting friends and family members

Many residents would love to spend some time near their children, grandchildren, or old friends without imposing on them or incurring excess expenses on lodging and meals. Additionally, once they’re accustomed to the privacy and peacefulness that accompanies retirement, they might even be looking for a great visit with a little alone time. The travel program allows them as much time as they’d like with loved ones near the community while still providing a quiet, private, non-intrusive place to rest and eat during their stay.

Meeting new people

Those seeking to expand their network in retirement have used the benefits of the travel program to immerse themselves in other communities of like-minded folks, sharing life experiences, laughs, and good food while they establish new friendships and experience new things. Because travel program guests have full access to each community’s activities, events, and wellness program, meeting new people away from the Chattahoochee is nearly effortless.

Exploring new places

For some, retirement is about settling into a comfortable recliner with a favorite book and a glass of wine…but for others, retirement is for excitement and adventure. When they aren’t enjoying local outdoor spaces like Brook Run Park, some of our residents are looking to serve themselves by expanding their horizons and making the United States their playground. The travel program supports that lifestyle perfectly by making travel easy and inexpensive – there are no extra costs for dining, lodging, or in-house entertainment when you stay in another Sunshine community.

Additionally, many communities are situated in some of the most beautiful and desirable cities in the US, giving residents easy access to national parks, local attractions, and great shopping.

Attending special events

Some residents have shared their tips and tricks for using the travel program to attend special events at little to no cost without imposing on family members or giving up their privacy during their time away. Weddings, memorial services, and graduations are just a few of the events our residents have attended, all while saving money and enjoying the serene, home-like setting of a sister community. Some have even made a few new friends along the way.

Seeing specialists

While Dunwoody offers a large selection of healthcare services, some doctors are a road trip away. Specialist appointments scheduled far from home can really make a dent on your plans and your budget. Many retirees find themselves traveling far and wide to see the doctors they need, paying for food and lodging and sacrificing some of their favorite daily routines, like a yoga class, lunch with friends, or happy hour. Many residents have chosen specialists in Sunshine communities to reduce their costs and make the trip just a little more enjoyable.

Breaking up a long journey

Cross-country travelers love to stop and spend a night in our communities along their route to ease the burden of long-distance travel, enjoy a nourishing meal, and perhaps partake in a good movie with like-minded folks.

To learn more about senior living in Dunwoody – or the myriad of luxuries, amenities, and services that accompany residency at Dunwoody Pines – schedule a visit today. Our friendly staff can’t wait to take you on a private tour, help you sample the cuisine, and introduce you to new friends and great memories.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, March, 2019.

Sunshine Spotlight: Canaries, Connections and Aloha at The Clairmont.

At Sunshine Retirement Living, we like to think of ourselves as one big happy family, and each of our communities represents our offspring with its own individual quirks and characteristics. Every now and then, we like to shine the spotlight on one of those offspring and show how proud we are of them. This time we focus on The Clairmont in Austin, Texas, where Life Enrichment “Ninja” Tina Bertelle has been doing some amazing things.

“We’re all excited about what we’re doing here,” says Tina. “Residents love all the community engagement and outside relationships with our neighbors and nearby businesses. Many in the city are talking about our fun and unique programs.

“I know we have a lot of competition in our area, but our goal is to have a waiting list of people lying about their ages to get in, because it’s soooo fun!” she adds with a laugh.

What’s The Clairmont’s idea of fun? For starters, you’ve no doubt heard about dog and pet therapy. Well, this month, residents at The Clairmont got a sampling Canary Pet Therapy from their neighbor Heather Vice, aka “The Canary Chick.” On February 5, she brought a male named “Valentino” and his two “girlfriends” to live in The Clairmont’s Activity Room on a trial basis.

Heather found Tina through The Clairmont’s intergeneration connection to Pond Springs Elementary School, where Heather’s children are students. A teacher there mentioned that The Clairmont was making great strides in connecting with local schools in Austin to engage with their seniors. Heather reached out to Tina, thinking that the canaries would enjoy the extra attention and bring great joy to the residents while they are breeding and nesting.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the residents to watch the birds and their mating habits, to name the females, and to witness the eggs hatching,” said Tina. “We already have one egg in the nest.”

Heather will come back every week to visit and answer questions. And if all goes well, she will bring some of her chickens to The Clairmont’s outdoor carnival this spring.

“We want to stand out as true pet therapists having not only live dogs, birds and fish, but streaming YouTube funny animals,” says Tina. “I’ve created playlists on YouTube Red to enhance the experience through videos on TV. It’s been a huge success thus far!”

Another undeniable success has been The Clairmont’s ongoing relationship with nearby McNeil High School. Students in the “HS Seniors Helping Seniors” Program are making a binder that tells which of them are available to help with apartment organizing, walking dogs and other useful household chores.

“Many students are willing to build lifelong relationships with our seniors,” says Tina. “It’s an exciting and innovative way to get the youth actively engaged in respecting our older generation.”

McNeil High School also brings their deaf and disabled students to clean chairs and tables and rearrange them in the Activities Room. And earlier this month, students from McNeil’s French Poetry Society shared some readings and provided an easy French lesson for residents.

That, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of The Clairmont’s unique activities this month. Here are a few more offbeat offerings:

  • On February 6, The Clairmont hosted Beer Tasting & Trivia with Brian Trivitt from Magnolia Hospice.
  • In addition to a Chocolate Strawberry Grab & Go Station and live music for Valentine’s Day, high school volunteers came to dance with residents.
  • The day before Valentine’s Day, master art teacher Kellie helped residents stay “young at art” by painting a love-themed watercolor on canvas.
  • On February 28, many residents will participate and listen in on the Play That Ukulele Live Musical Workshop.
  • In March, The Clairmont will get another dose of ukulele and aloha with a Luau Showcase Dinner and Hawaiian Show.

“Tina is very in tuned with our seniors’ daily activities and provides an exemplary quality of life for them,” says Executive Director Joanne Green. “She has touched the lives of so many of our residents socially, physically, emotionally and intellectually. We are proud to have her on our team at The Clairmont.”

According to Tina, it’s all about “learning, loving and empowering” – three things we hope shine brightly through all of Sunshine’s offspring.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, February, 2019.

For Many Sunshine Residents, A Museum Is Where You See ‘Em

One thing that has been proven time and time again at Sunshine Retirement communities is that most seniors never lose their hunger for knowledge, culture and entertainment. And quite frequently, they’ll go to great lengths to satisfy it. Well, at least quite a few miles.

That’s been the case at several communities where Sunshine Life Enhancement Directors (LEDs) have arranged numerous outings to nearby museums.

“Museum outings are very educational and a great way for our residents to connect with things that they enjoy, whether it be art, music or history,” says Muzit Sebhatlab, LED at Waterford Terrace in La Mesa, California. “Living in the San Diego area, we are fortunate to have Balboa Park, which has over 15 different museums, and there are many others throughout the county. I get plenty of ideas and suggestions from our residents, their families and even staff.”

Muzit arranges for most museum visits to be guided by a docent, because it makes it easier for the residents to get the full understanding of what they are seeing. But inevitably, there are always a few residents who like to venture out on their own.

“One of our favorite trips was visiting the Museum of Music,” he said. “They truly enjoyed it because they got to experience the history and evolution of American music, and see instruments from the early 1900s until today. It brought them many memories of the good old days.”

Another favorite outing was to the USS Midway, a maritime museum on board an aircraft carrier at San Diego’s Navy Pier. The ship houses an extensive collection of aircraft, many of which were built in Southern California.

“It was a beauty,” said Waterford Terrace resident Vinny Freda. “The history and size of the ship was just fascinating!”

Next month’s outing will include a backstage tour of the world-famous Old Globe Theatre. And since Halloween is approaching, they will be visiting The Whaley House Museum, a historical haunted house in Old Town.

Farther north, residents at Creekside Oaks in Folsom, California have a similar array of museum opportunities in the Sacramento area, some related to the local gold mining history, as well as to arts and culture.

“September is the perfect month for museum trips here because the temperature usually hovers around a very comfortable 84 degrees,” says LED Curtis Ligon.

This Sunday, Curtis will be taking residents to one of their favorite destinations, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. He agrees that docent-led tours are the way to go.

“We love to spoil the residents and I think guided tours are so much better. They learn more history about the art from the tour guide.”

The cooler days of early fall are also the ideal time for residents of Heritage Point in Mishawaka, Indiana to explore their local museums. LED Lillian Spice is planning a trip to the Hannah Lindahl’s Children’s Museum on October 11. No, the residents won’t be doing experiments with Kool-Aid or Pepsi. The museum actually has interesting historic and regional content for all ages, but is called “Children’s” Museum because it’s located in an elementary school.

A docent will guide Heritage Point residents through a vast display of inventions that have made life easier for several generations over the course of time. Former resident Arnold Anderson was a history teacher who loved visiting the museum and seeing the antique standing radio.

“My family used to gather around the radio every Sunday to listen to music,” exclaimed Arnold.

While nostalgia is definitely a popular reason for many residents to participate in museum outings, Merry Petroski, LED at Windsor Heights in Beachwood, Ohio, has found that any museum with a strong visual component appeals to their residents. They also tend to like natural history and botanical gardens.

Since Windsor Heights serves Assisted Living as well as Memory Care residents, it’s also important for Merry to make sure each off-site field trip has easily accessible parking, good restrooms and accommodating employees.

“Most staff have been very helpful, although some are unaware of our challenges,” she says. “We have to be very clear about our needs and expectations. In the past, we’ve had good success with Rockefeller Garden Greenhouse, the Shaker Nature Center, Western Reserve Historical Society, the Trinity Cathedral Concert Series and Lake Farm Park.”

In the near future, they hope to check out Wade Memorial Chapel, Soldiers & Sailors Monument and Garfield Monument. Not only have the residents enjoyed the outings, their family members have appreciated them too.

“Thank you for bringing my Mom [to the museums],” said Bev Miller, daughter of Windsor Heights resident Shirley Hummel. “It’s too tough for me to transport her on my own.”

But without a doubt, the community that has museum visiting down to a science is Dunwoody Pines in Dunwoody, Georgia. In just a little over three years, LED Ashley Hurd has guided residents on more than 75 museum trips. With several intriguing options nearby in the Atlanta area, they visit a museum pretty much every Thursday, taking advantage of senior discounts or free admission about 90% of the time.

“Museums are very appealing to the residents,” says Ashley. “We learn so much about the state we live in, as well as topics we’ve never even thought of.”

So far, some of the most popular outings have been:

  • The Gone with Wind Museum
  • Atlanta History Center
  • Dahlonega Gold Mining Museum
  • Federal Reserve Museum
  • Booth Western Art Museum
  • Michael C. Carlos Museum
  • Presidential Library Museum

On the docket for future trips are:

  • Heritage Park Veterans Museum
  • Alpharetta & Old Milton County History Museum
  • Army Aviation Heritage Museum
  • Civil and Human Rights Museum
  • Haunted Fox Theater Museum

“I love going on these trips because even though I’ve lived in Atlanta for over 30 years, I still learn so much,” said Dunwoody resident Bob Clement. “I had no idea Georgia produced natural pink marble that is in our State Capital Building.”

That’s what we like to hear, Bob. Stay hungry for knowledge. And we’ll keep on feeding you.

This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, September, 2018.