Have you been enjoying the full moon this week? It’s as if the big white orb in the sky is saying, “Hey Earth, what’s going on? You haven’t visited for a while. Why not come up and see me sometime?”
Or maybe it’s just trying to shine its brightest in time for the event that the entire country has been “abuzz” about all month. In case you’ve been on another planet the past few weeks, we’re talking about the 50th anniversary of the voyage of Apollo 11, which sent astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins on America’s first truly close encounter with the moon back in July of 1969.
Five decades later, countless Sunshine residents can remember exactly where they were when Armstrong and Aldrin made history by becoming the first human beings to moonwalk, long before Michael Jackson figured how to do it. Many Sunshine communities are commemorating the anniversary of the event with out-of-this-world celebrations. But before we peruse some of the festivities, let’s explore some important (and not-so-important) facts about the event.
Numerous Sunshine residents have vivid memories of witnessing the event and being inspired by the lunar mission. Here are a few of our favorites.
Donna Shepherd of Country Club Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas:
“I was in Junior High and we were in the auditorium watching it on a black & white TV. We heard Neil Armstrong say, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Joyce Houghman from Creekside Oaks in Folsom, California:
“I was traveling and had stopped to visit with a former co-worker in Cheyenne, Wyoming. When Chet Huntley and David Brinkley covered the news on television, you could hear people actually cheering – the sounds reverberated throughout the town.”
Jack Cooper from Creekside Oaks :
“I worked in a Las Vegas casino at the time. When I got to work I went to the break room to watch TV before I was due on my shift. The moonwalk was just ready to begin and I couldn’t tear myself away, so I stayed and watched through the whole thing. I always loved astronomy and was so excited about the concept of humans reaching another planet. When it was over, I went upstairs expecting to be fired. But when the boss asked me where I was, and I told him I couldn’t miss the moonwalk, he just said, ‘Okay.’”
Robert Peckham of The Clairmont in Austin, Texas:
“1969 was memorable because I was a shift supervisor at the Mars Tracking Station in Goldstone, California when they landed. All of the pictures and video from the moon came through our antenna. I am very proud to have been a part of that spectacular day. The space race during the ‘60s in terms of staying ahead of the Russians and coming together as a county at the end of a very turbulent decade was very important to the prestige of the U.S. among the nations of the world.”
Ray Luttrel of Dunwoody Pines in Dunwoody, Georgia:
“It meant a lot to me because if it wasn’t a success, I wasn’t a success. I worked with the Apollo Space program for six years between October 1965 to August 1971…I remember the uncrewed testings for the Apollo rockets, and how the ship weighed 6 1/2 million pounds. I won a certificate for my service on the Apollo 11 and a pendant. Landing first meant we could learn so much and be ahead of the technological curve. It would help with discovering new inventions.”
Both Bob Peckham and Ray Luttrel will be giving presentations to their fellow residents at their respective communities. And Ashley Hurd, Life Enhancement Director (LED) at Dunwoody Pines will add to the experience by helping the residents make Moon Rocks.
Dunwoody Pines and several other communities will be showing the movie “Apollo 11.” The Verandah in Lake Charles, Louisiana has been having lunar activities all week, including a slide show adventure through the Solar System, a discussion on the phases of the moon, a freeze-dried ice cream social and a “Fly Me to the Moon” Party. And of course, The Clairmont in Austin has gotten into the act as well.
“We’ve compiled a commemorative document highlighting memories from several residents,” said Tina Bertelle, LED at The Clairmont. “We will also have a special ‘Space Snactivity’with Silverado Hospice bringing astronaut dehydrated space snacks that the residents will try to identify.”
After all the fun and games and education, where do we go from here? Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Sunshine residents hope that the U.S. pushed forward with its space exploration.
“NASA was a huge accomplishment for everyone and I would like to see them continue their mission to explore outer space,” noted James Mitchum, a resident at The Clairmont. “I believe we will find life or create a community on Mars someday.”
But why stop there?
“I always wanted to visit Jupiter,” said Ellen Lewis of Dunwoody Pines .
Count us in for the 50th anniversary of that event!
Cutting edge retirement communities anticipate what seniors will want tomorrow in order to work toward and provide those amenities in real time, transforming senior living from a necessity to a retirement goal. Because of this forward-thinking strategy, the definition of all-inclusive senior living has changed substantially in the last decade.
Almost everybody has been the victim of a misunderstanding around the term “all-inclusive”: perhaps you’ve booked an all-inclusive vacation only to find that it doesn’t include your drinks, bought fair wristbands that don’t cover the best ride, or toured an all-inclusive retirement communities that charges extra for meals and snacks. For this reason, it’s important to find out what’s included in the monthly rent before committing to a community.
Here, we’ll share what all-inclusive living means at The Clairmont, and although not all communities will offer the same amenities, we hope it serves a great starting point and helps you compare your options.
Before you even live at the Clairmont, move-in services are available to help you navigate all of the complexities of moving, like finding a real estate agent, planning financially, and selecting a reputable moving company. Although the services are charged to you by third parties, the coordination is offered free of cost.
The Clairmont offers 24/7 dining, which means you can eat day or night and it’s included in your rent. The Meals and snacks prepared by a gourmet chef and designed to cater to dietary needs and preferences are available to all residents of The Clairmont. Please note that not all retirement communities offer meals and snacks, and some offer meals and snacks at an additional monthly or per meal cost.
Included in monthly rent is gym membership for all residents, which comes with access to the gym and all fitness equipment as well as access to group fitness classes, like Yoga and Zumba. The gym at The Clairmont is on-site, which makes it easy to fit a workout into your daily routine.
Residents get unlimited access to activities and outings at the Clairmont. The schedule is full of a myriad of events to choose from – ranging from card games to local concerts – and residents can attend as many events as they choose at no extra cost. On occasion, the community may offer the opportunity to attend local events at an extra cost, but those costs are well advertised so residents can make informed decisions about their entertainment.
It’s very common for prospective residents to share that a primary reason they’re seeking community living is better access to on-site services and free local transportation; driving in a rush hour doesn’t get more enjoyable as you get older. The Clairmont, transportation to local appointments, shopping centers, and events is included in the cost of the rent.
Residents of the Clairmont have access to free lodging, dining, and activities in almost 30 different retirement communities throughout the United States, allowing residents to travel affordably to beautiful destinations, meet new friends, and enjoy the local culture through dining and events.
24/7 staffing, a secure building, access to community rooms for hosting family, monthly utilities, and computer lab use are all included in the cost of rent at the Clairmont.
To learn more about all-inclusive living at The Clairmont or schedule your tour of our community, visit us online today!
Don’t look now, but the lusty month of May is busting out of the gate with two incredibly exciting, yet radically different events on its first weekend. On Saturday, May 4, a handful of Sunshine communities will be treated to A Day at the Races, as they celebrate the 145thAnnual Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs in Louisville. And on Sunday, or in some cases, as early as today, several more communities will get their fiestas on with Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
As most everyone knows, the “Run for the Roses” kicks off the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing. And with favorite Omaha Beach having to scratch due to illness, the race between 20 other horses is wide open this year.
“Derby day is so exciting,” says Stephanie Hendrix, Executive Director at Creekside Pines in Dallas, Georgia. “What another sporting event has so much emphasis on the build-up with the hat contests, Mint Juleps, and everything, just to end with a race that lasts around two minutes.”
Also known as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” the Derby is just as much spectacle and ceremony as anything else, with ladies expected to show off their finest hats and springy dresses, while gentlemen outfit themselves in their dandiest suits and blazers; all to fulfill Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr.’s vision of making it the classiest race this side of Europe.
“Stephanie and George Kahl, our Director of Maintenance, are both big into this event so they like to be present and help out,” says Creekside Pines Life Enrichment Director (LED) Brandi Limbaugh.“Stephanie puts up print outs of all the horses outside our theater, so the residents can choose which ones they like before the race and George makes Mint Juleps (the real deal). We’ll have some pretzels and light refreshments to go with them.”
Some years the crew at Creekside Pines has had a local horse farm bring over ponies for the residents to pet, learn about and take pictures.
“The race never disappoints,” claims Stephanie. “The residents that come to watch get really creative with their hats and all cheer for their favorite horses.”
Likewise, at The Verandah in Lake Charles, Louisiana, residents are also way into the Derby.
Says LED Becky Dent:
“We have a contest on for the best Kentucky Derby attire. I’m decorating up the Tavern and we will be serving Mint Juleps, cucumber sandwiches, pimento spread, and sweet tea.” While quite different, the culture and traditions of Cinco de Mayo are no less important. In fact, Olga Rosalez, LED at The Continental in Austin, Texas extends their celebration of Cinco de Mayo throughout the week. The menu includes Chicken and Beef Fajitas, Rice& Beans, Chips &Salsa, Tres leches cake and Margaritas.
“Since it has become more popular in the U.S., I share the history of the celebration,” says Olga. “Residents enjoy the foods, music, singing and dancing, the overall camaraderie. Mariachi del Alamo parades around the dining room, which everyone loves. After lunch, we play Mexican Loteria (Bingo). It’s a great fiesta!
Since Sundays at Country Club Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas is mostly devoted to church activities, LED Cindy Smith decided to move their Cinco de Mayo fiesta to today (Tre’s de Mayo).
“Celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Friday the 3rd made sense with this month’s calendar, as Happy Hour is held each Friday anyway,” said Cindy. “In addition to our regular beverages (beer, wine, and wine coolers) we’ll be serving chips &Salsa and listening to a playlist of traditional mariachi music. I’ve also incorporated a great supply of Cinco de Mayo decorations.”
Similarly, Brenda Olivarez, LED at Garden Way in Eugene, Oregon draws on her Hispanic heritage to provide an authentic experience for her residents.
“We are actually doing a social hour for the main part with ‘Mock-a-ritas,’” says Brenda. “Chef Martin will be having a yummy Mexican-based meal, along with Churros andChips & Salsa.”
Whether you choose to celebrate the weekend sipping a Mint Julep or a “Mock-a-rita,” singing along with “My Old Kentucky Home” or “DeColores,” we hope your Mayo starts off in grand style.
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, May, 2019.
Becoming a senior citizen in today’s world, definitely has its pros and cons. While it’s easy to gripe about all the aches and pains of aging, you’ll never hear anyone complain about the ever-growing list of senior discounts. They are almost too numerous to mention. But we’ll take a crack at it here.
If you don’t know by now, the #1 way for seniors to access discounts galore is by joining AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons). For a paltry $16/year, you can enjoy:
But whether you’re into AARP or not, there are many other discounts almost everywhere you look. For example, did you know that you can:
Many of the large phone companies offer special savings to senior citizens, and these discounts add up quick!
AT&T offers a special Senior Nation Plan for account holders 65 or older for just $29.99/mo. It has 200 Anytime Minutes, Mobile-to-Mobile Minutes, and Nights and Weekends, without roaming and long-distance charges.
Verizon Wireless offers a special 55-plus nationwide unlimited Talk & Text service plan to customers who are 55 or older, in most locations.
Consumer Cellular: Consumer Cellular offers AARP members over 50 exclusive savings on monthly service charges in addition to discounts on accessories.
If you’re 55 or over and still own a car, you can save 10% at Pep Boys and Jiffy Lube.
Any senior living on a fixed income should never shopping without being aware of these enticing discounts:
If you’ve still got a travel bug, not only do you have the flexibility to go during the off-peak and shoulder seasons, you have the wherewithal to catch some nifty senior savings along the way:
While a lot of restaurants offer specials and coupons now and then, here are several popular ones that always feature tasty senior discounts:
The sad truth is, a shocking number of Americans do not own a life insurance policy. If you don’t have one, your family could end up inheriting any debts you might have.
Fortunately for seniors, there is a service called National Family that is now allowing users to get free life insurance quotes at surprisingly low rates from some of the top insurance companies out there. Life insurance rates are at a 20-year low and thanks to new program policies you could qualify for a great new policy at an extremely affordable price. It only takes about 60 seconds to get a free quote today. Once you’ve answered the simple questions, you will be presented with choices and rates. Enjoy your savings!
It’s no secret that the dollar doesn’t go as far as it once did. And it’s tougher than ever to make ends meet on a fixed income or limited retirement plan. But thankfully, being a senior has never offered more ways to save, if you know where to look.
And of course, you can never overlook the greatest senior benefit of all: the opportunity to live at a Sunshine Retirement community.
The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of some pretty earth-shaking events – the landing of Apollo 11 and the first man on the moon; Woodstock, four days of peace and music that changed a generation; and something that received almost no hoopla at the time, but has grown into an incredible global phenomenon: the planting of the seeds of Earth Day.
Officially, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day will be celebrated around the globe on April 22, 2020. But the event and the movement might never have gotten off the ground without a proposal by peace activity John McConnell at a UNESCO Conference held in San Francisco in 1969. He suggested a day to honor the Earth on the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere – March 21, 1970. The day was sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations
A month later, on April 22, 1970, a separate Earth Day was founded by the United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. And a movement to help save the planet was born. Earth Day went international in 1970 and these days, it kicks off an entire week of environmental awareness and activism involving more than 200 million people in 141 countries.
For the past five years, Sunshine Retirement communities here in the United States have devoted the entire month of April to support the concept of Earth Day. All communities are celebrating our 5th Annual Go Green Give Back program, where every resident is given incentives and useful tips to help them practice sustainable, earth-friendly habits. Each resident has received a flyer listing numerous ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and give back.
Residents have also received a “Pledge to Go Green” card, which includes green footprints, that represent those four categories (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Give Back). When residents do something beneficial in one of the four categories – like carpooling, shopping with reusable bags, and properly disposing of used batteries and light bulbs – they get their card punched. When all four footprints are punched, they will be recognized and awarded a green prize.
But perhaps the most important thing result of Go Green Give Back is that it gives all of our Life Enrichment Directors (LEDs) and residents a kick start to make them think of different ways to do more to preserve the planet starting with their own community environment. In fact, many have already been inspired to initiate additional efforts to reduce waste and help their corner of the earth on an ongoing basis.
Case in point, starting this month, Quail Lodge in Antioch, California is focusing on reducing their use of Styrofoam cups, meal containers and other non-reusable items that end up in the landfill.
“To implement this switch, we have set out plastic reusable cups by our water station and we’ll offer ceramic mugs for our coffee functions (Coffee Klatch, Trivia & Donuts, etc.) with collection containers for the used cups,” said Sara Hallam, Life Enrichment Director(LED) at Quail Lodge. “Our meal deliveries will be on covered ceramic dining room plates.”
“Last year we switched our dining room from paper napkins and placemats to reusable cloth napkins and placemats,” added Sara. “Earlier in the year, the kitchen put in place a composting system for all food waste. This process is going well and has cut down on our outgoing waste.
It takes a team effort of both staff and residents, but we know that in this day and age, it’s important to preserve our environment as much as possible.”
At Garden Way in Eugene, Oregon, LED Brenda Olivarez is leading the charge to eliminate disposable containers and more.
“Many of our to-go containers are compostable, plus if residents bring clean Tupperware, we will use that for their to-go meal or their leftovers,” she says. “We also collect dead batteries from the residents and take them to a battery store where they can be disposed of properly. Plus, we have a tomato and herb garden that the kitchen staff maintains and uses in the meals and the salad bar.”
Brenda maintains that it’s important for residents to participate in Go Green/Give Back and beyond.
“Many of the residents here are already into recycling and doing their part to keep the earth green,” she says. “They want to help so that their grandchildren or great-grandchildren have a healthy earth to live in.”
Garden Way resident Evelyn Welker agrees:
“Seniors have the experience from living many years and learning what has really happened. Our generation has learned from the mistakes of the past and can guide future generations.”
Deep in the heart of Texas, Dorothy McCreary, a resident at The Continental in Austin shares a similar perspective.
“Any time we live in a community, we want to keep it healthy, comfortable and safe,” she states. “Each of us has a responsibility and should want to give back.”
LED Olga Rosalez makes sure that The Continental is doing their part to pitch in. For example:
“Our kitchen has greatly increased the collection of food scraps for compost. We give it to an organic company that repurposes it for local farmers,” she says.
Everret Williams, Executive Director at The Continental, loves seeing less waste and the reuse of items. The trash from the kitchen accounts for the largest portion of their community’s waste, so having the residents on board with this initiative makes for a greater impact.
“I thoroughly appreciate Olga’s year-round commitment to Go Green and how it has inspired many of the residents,” claims Everett.“Each year the long-time residents become more knowledgeable on the subject and in turn encourage our new residents to take part as well.”
Last year, Everett saw first-hand how one of his residents, Joan Pierce, took this initiative to the next level. She noticed how glasses and carafes of water were always left half full on the dining tables after lunch. Joan then asked Everett if she could collect the leftover water and use it to water the plants on the patio.
“’ I thought, ‘Wow, what a great idea!’” said Everet. “I immediately gave Joan my blessing and Olga fixed her up with a watering can and an old trash bin for collecting the wastewater. The results were especially noticeable in the hot summer months as our patio plants stayed nice and green, all from water that would have been poured down the drain.”
According to the calendar, Earth Day (or Earth Week) may only come once a year. But at Sunshine Retirement communities, our commitment to “Go Green” gives back to Mother Earth every day. And we think both founders of Earth Day would be over the moon about that.
In addition to a hearty and healthy Earth Day, we wish everyone a Happy Easter.
Frankly, my dear, people actually still give a damn about the classic movie, Gone with the Wind, even 80 years after it premiered in Atlanta, Georgia. This year, theaters across the country have been presenting special 80th anniversary screenings of the epic film, based on Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling saga of the Old South.
For those who somehow haven’t read the book or seen the film, Gone with the Wind follows the beautiful, but headstrong Southern Belle Scarlett O’Hara (played by Vivien Leigh) who will stop at nothing to win the heart of the man she loves, Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), and preserve her family’s Georgia plantation known as Tara. Complications ensue when she meets a handsome rogue named Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), who knows that he and Scarlett are truly meant for each other. Oh, and then the Civil War breaks out and turns their whole world upside down.
Despite predictions of its failure and complications in production, the film was an instant box office smash, winning eight Academy Award and two special achievement Oscars. With its iconic performances, lush backdrops, immaculate wardrobe, sweeping story and some unforgettably classic lines, Gone with the Wind remains one of the most beloved films of all time, raking in $1.8 billion over its 80-year history and its cultural influence has endured. In fact, film critic Roger Ebert wrote in 1998, “It is still a towering landmark of film, quite simply because it tells a good story, and tells it wonderfully well.”
Since the story took place in Georgia very close to Sunshine’s Creekside Pines community in Dallas, Georgia, Life Enrichment Director (LED) Brandi Limbaugh thought it would be fun to have an anniversary showing for residents. Though none of the residents attended the 1939 premier along with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh at the Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Brandi found that the vast majority of the 18 who came to opening night of the screening (a record crowd for movies at Creekside Pines) had seen GWTW before.
“The most interesting thing about watching this film with my residents is that many of them are not from the South,” said Brandi. “So, to see not just the Civil War, but the aftermath and Reconstruction of the South is what really gets to them. Most thought that the movie presented an accurate depiction of mid-19th Century life in the South, but did not show just how severe the war was and exactly how hard it was to rebuild afterward.”
Lily Parks, a Creekside Pines resident who grew up in California, said she knew only a moderate amount about the War from her school education. She commented:
“When I moved to Atlanta in the 1950s, I really learned a lot about the Civil War and tried to go to all of the museums and historic places. Raising my family here, I really tried to teach my children as much as I could about it as they grew up.”
Lily noted that unlike most war movies today, GWTW didn’t actually show any intense battle scenes, other than Rhett and Scarlett making a dramatic escape from Atlanta as it went up in flames.
“I’m sure the actual battle sites were much worse than we could imagine,” said Lilly. “Also, life at Tara probably was not the norm. I doubt most women walked around in fluffy dresses all day attending parties, while the men smoked cigars. The parties were few and far between, as living on a plantation required a lot of work, not just from the slaves.”
Brandi enjoyed a lively conversation with Lily about the film.
“Lily and I have discussions about all sorts of things,” said Brandi. “She loves to go to art and history museums, and I love that she still has a passion to learn new things.
“We both agree that slavery was the primary – though not the only – cause of the War. Lily pointed out that the South’s economy was based on agriculture that required many laborers, since there were no tractors or heavy equipment yet to do the work. While at the same time, the North’s economy was based on industry and factory production that required fewer workers.”
Lily also pointed out that when the slaves were emancipated, many of their old plantations failed during Reconstruction, because they did not have the labor to keep them up. Indeed, the film showed how Scarlett’s family had great difficulty trying to handle all of the work on their plantation. To complicate matters, the slaves that stayed with them did not know how to tend to the crops or the farm animals because they had been trained to work inside the house.
In addition to the serious discussions about the War and the film, all of the residents enjoyed the GWTW trivia that Brandi shared before the screening. Here are a few noteworthy items:
Then of course, there’s the trivia question for the ages: How did Rhett’s famous last words, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!” get past the censors, which forbad swearing in G-rated 1939?
Unfortunately, our time is up and that will have to be answered tomorrow. For, as Scarlett would say, “tomorrow is another day.”
Most retirees are drawn to Hot Springs senior living communities that advertise their rent as all-inclusive, but the term can be deceiving. Some communities use “all-inclusive” to describe rent plus light housekeeping while others use the same term to describe a retirement lifestyle that truly includes nearly every service and amenity available. To help you narrow down the search, we’ve compiled all of the services and amenities that are included in your monthly rent at Country Club Village.
Whether you’re moving from Lonsdale, Lake Hamilton, or another local neighborhood, move-in assistance from Country Club Village is offered at no additional cost. This means that somebody is available to coordinate the moving process, and while you may have to pay the third parties that help move belongings or assist with other services, you won’t be charged for the coordination of services offered by Country Club Village.
A wide variety of dining options are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for residents who choose to take advantage of the gourmet-style menu. Whether you’re hungry when the sun comes up or you need a late night snack, you can count on the expert nutrition team to accommodate your request at no extra cost. Additionally, any special dietary needs, including allergies or doctor’s orders, are accommodated by the nutrition team.
You’ll never pay extra to enjoy outdoor walking paths, green spaces, patios, and the breathtaking views of the Arkansas sunrise and sunset. Many residents invite friends and family members to take a stroll on the path or enjoy some time on the patio, too.
If you aren’t comfortable commuting to and from your Hot Springs appointments and events, the cost of transportation can add up quickly. Country Club Village offers free transportation to local clinics, grocery stores, and other retailers as well as free transportation to local attractions like the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, Hot Springs National Park, or Garvan Woodland Gardens. You can save your budget for fun when transportation is free.
You’ll never get charged an additional fee for using the on-site gym, attending exercise or nutrition classes, or getting your steps in on the grounds. Wellness opportunities are right at your fingertips and always included in your monthly rent.
Included in your rent is unlimited access to a robust activities program, which includes low-impact sports, spiritual activities, blackjack, bingo, happy hour, local adventures every week, and much more. The activities calendar changes every month to ensure there are always new and exciting things to do during your golden years at Country Club Village, and there’s never pressure to attend any activity that doesn’t speak to your interests.
Those living on a fixed income in retirement often find that the fluctuating cost of utilities and home repair can quickly derail their budget and cut into their adventure fund. When you choose an all-inclusive retirement community, you never have to worry about utilities rising and falling like the changing tide or an appliance breaking down unexpectedly. Your monthly rent includes utilities and maintenance, which means the community absorbs the fluctuations so you can easily predict and plan for your expenses every month.
Weekly housekeeping is included in your all-inclusive rent at Country Club Village so you can spend more time enjoying retirement and less time keeping up at home.
To learn more about all-inclusive independent living in Hot Springs Arkansas, schedule a visit today.
As we get older, we’re bound to experience more physical aches and pains, and maybe a few mental maladies as well. Naturally, the more challenges we face, the more healing and therapy we need. While there’s only so much that Sunshine Retirement communities can do in terms of providing physical remedies to residents, there’s no limit to what we can offer when it comes to therapeutic activities that deliver mental stimulation and positive reinforcement
This month at Summerfield Estates in Tigard, Oregon, Life Enrichment Director Anthony Nosen has introduced Therapy Thursdays, an assortment of therapy sessions that have been popular at other Sunshine communities, along with a few new wrinkles.
Like many other Sunshine Retirement communities, the staff at Summerfield Estates found that Pet Therapy, Massage/Aroma Therapy, Garden Therapy, and Music Therapy sessions have helped residents stimulate physical and emotional bonds, relax tired muscles, and develop a strong sense of responsibility with ample rewards. But Anthony has taken things a few steps further by initiating Art Therapy and Theater & Laughter Therapy.
“ The Hand/Massage Aromatherapy is something I have been trained on through an essential oils program,” said Anthony. “The calming lavender type oils are used along with mineral oil, or a non-scented lotion while massaging the whole hand and wrist on both sides. This is huge for those with Contracture or Arthritis in their finger joints, allowing for better mobility and relief from pain.”
Garden Therapy is designed to benefit residents who enjoy getting their hands dirty while nurturing flowers and plants, as well as those who don’t.
“ For active gardeners, manipulating the soil and experiencing the feels, sights, and smells of the garden is a form of meditation,” says Anthony. “But we also have a group that simply enjoys the outdoors with a variety of breathing and meditation journeys.”
Music Therapy usually involves a certified therapist that brings in interactive music programs for small groups or individuals. It is especially helpful for Memory Care or bed-bound residents.
“ Art Therapy is always a fun, tactile event,” says Anthony. “It usually involves manipulating clay or finger-paints with meditative music playing in the background. We create art based more on feelings and emotions, rather than the sight of an object.”
By far the most unique of this month’s activities at Summerfield Estates has been the Theater & Laughter Therapy, which got rolling with a variety of improvisational games and skits. Then the group switched gears to a series of improv scenes and one-liners intended to make each participant laugh for as long as possible.
“ Laughter and acting, in general, have healing properties much like Music Therapy,” says Anthony.“It eases the mind along with re-firing the synapses in the brain for a variety of brain benefits.”
Whatever the physiological explanation, the activity left all who attended in great humor with big broad smiles on their faces. And we can’t think of any better evidence of healing than that.
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, March, 2019.
March is Craft Month at Sunshine Retirement communities. No, that doesn’t mean everyone sits around sipping trendy beers while discussing hand-made furniture, jewelry, soap or what have you. Craft Month is not necessarily about things that are made with a high level of skill or proficiency. It’s simply about getting together to work on projects with an intended purpose and outcome.
“I love crafts!” says Merry Beth Grant, Assisted Living Life Enrichment Director (LED) at The Verandah in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “We celebrate Craft Month every month. The goal is to get as many residents involved as possible in a project that gives them a sense of pride in what they have created.”
The Verandah has a whole room dedicated to crafts that is shared by Assisted Living and Independent Living residents. Merry Beth knows the importance of doing crafts goes a lot deeper than just making another cozy to keep the tea warm.
“Making crafts helps with hand and eye coordination, cognitive abilities and concentration,” she says. “It brings people together. We share stories, we laugh and we help each other. I also like to give residents responsibilities in helping me set up for our projects, which gives them a sense of purpose.”
Merry Beth credits her infectious approach with attracting residents who aren’t typically interested in craft making.
“I believe that if you’re enthusiastic about doing something, the enthusiasm catches on," she claims. “The other thing is, I try to come up with crafts that they’ll want to give as gifts. They love gifting their projects to friends and family members.”
Merry Petroski, LED at Windsor Heights Assisted Living & Memory Care in Beachwood, Ohio, also sees great benefits in making crafts with her memory-challenged residents.
“A person with dementia has lost the ability to order their day,” she says. “Going from task to task, taking time to relax, hydrate, eat and get activities of daily living accomplished gets increasingly difficult, if not possible for them.
Merry finds that joining in on craft projects keeps their minds focused, which may head off negative behaviors that are often the result of boredom and confusion. These creative endeavors can also help them to center themselves.
“Each project can orient them to time and place,” says Merry. “By making Christmas decorations or coloring Easter eggs, we offer gentle reminders to structure our residents’ days. People love familiar rituals, and most will also try new projects with a little prodding and lots of positive feedback.”
While clutter and complicated directions can create serious challenges for people with dementia, Merry finds that any craft project can be completed as long as it is broken down into enough simple steps. What might take an afternoon for the average person could take three or four afternoons for someone with dementia. They no longer have the ability to multi-task and remember long sets of instructions. So one session may be devoted to cutting things out, another to gluing, painting, etc., until the project is done. According to Merry:
“People who suffer from the effects of dementia are no different than the rest of us, in that they love to receive praise and feel pride in creating something with their own hands.”
Positive reinforcement and a little common sense have also proved helpful in getting men to enjoy crafts as much as women.
“Men seem to enjoy tasks that involve building,” said Merry. “If a man seems reticent to participate in crafts, I ask for help in building a dollhouse for a child or offer him a painting job on a premade birdhouse.”
“Finding a craft that appeals to everyone is tricky,” concurs Cindy Smith, LED at Country Club Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas. “Wood-working crafts for men and projects that are fun and dramatic seem to go over well.”
Country Club Village has a space that is stocked with various tools and supplies, so residents can enjoy crafts and explore their own creativity at their leisure. But, of course, they’re also encouraged to participate in numerous organized craft projects. Like Cindy, most Sunshine LEDs have discovered that using the internet and social media are great ways to find fresh craft ideas for everyone to enjoy.
“I love having Pinterest!” says Brandi Limbaugh, LED at Creekside Pines in Dallas, Georgia.
“You can find things on there and on Facebook that you wouldn’t think of in a million years. I also turn to YouTube to find videos that help you figure out how to do something you didn’t know how to do.”
Lately, the internet helped Creekside Pines residents create St. Patrick’s Day wreaths that they will be able to hang on their doors for years to come. And currently, Sunshine’s own network of LEDs is inspiring each other with a variety of “green” crafts – the kind that will be perfect for Earth Day celebrations next month.
So, while the world continues to appreciate the special qualities of hand-crafted beverages, foods, soaps, etc., Sunshine residents will go right on enjoying the endless benefits of hand-crafting their own holiday wreaths, cell phone holders and birdhouses.
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, March, 2019.
Once upon a time, when bacon and eggs was a regular Sunday morning ritual, planning food seemed like a simple affair. Now, there are so many new diets flying around it’s hard to know what to put on your plate. Should you scrap your frying pan and dive into raw food eating? Or do you follow the Paleo diet philosophy and ditch grains and processed foods?
Then too, you may have heard about whole-food plant-based eating, which is getting is getting so much good press that it influenced the recent revision of Canada’s Canada Food Guide (a counterpart to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate). In this revision, meat and dairy were downplayed, in an attempt to reduce heart disease and other chronic diseases.
Evidence does seem to be mounting that following a healthy plant-based diet (we’re talking tofu and quinoa, not French fries and cookies) can reduce your risk of heart disease. A major study published in 2017, which examined the dietary data of about 209,000 adults over two decades, found that those who followed such a diet had a lower risk for heart disease than other participants.
If the thought of never again biting into a juicy hamburger makes you despondent, read on. According to Dr. Ambika Satija, who led the above study, you can reap heart-healthy benefits, simply by reducing animal foods. “A moderate change in your diet, such as lowering your animal food intake by one to two servings per day and replacing it with legumes or nuts as your protein source, can have a lasting positive impact on your health,” says Satija, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in this Harvard Medical School article.
The article emphasizes the importance of eating more of the right plants, getting rid of unhealthy foods, and moderating the intake of animal products. It also highlights the health benefits of three food plans: the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet. All three of these diets– which are not completely meat and dairy-free–are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals .This helps lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes.
What’s more, by eating a heart-healthy diet, you can also lower your risk for brain problems such as dementia. For instance, the MIND diet trial found that those who closely follow a MIND diet, may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 53 percent.
Sunshine Retirement Living was so impressed by the results of this study it decided to base meals at its memory care communities (and increasingly at its independent living communities) on the MIND diet. (If you pop by for lunch or dinner, you’ll likely find dishes based on MIND diet recommended foods like green leafy veggies, berries, nuts, whole grains, beans and poultry.)
But let’s get back to the Canada Food Guide, which espouses some of the same foods recommended by the MIND diet. An interesting side note about this food guide is that it also recommends that seniors eat meals with others as this “may encourage you to eat more of the foods that you need to stay healthy.”
At Sunshine communities, residents would indeed agree that the social aspect of dining is just as important as delicious and nutritious meals. If you’ve grown accustomed to eating a can of soup in front of a TV screen, you might just find that chatting with others over an after-dinner cup of tea can be as good for your spirit as it is for your body.
*This is Part 2 of this article: https://www.sunshineretirementliving.com/worried-about-your-loved-ones-aging-brain-brain-boosting-diet-may-delay-decline/