After The Fall

Category Archives: Senior living

Putting Yourself Firmly on the Road to Recovery

With the holiday season upon us, we look forward to the traditions that make this time of year so special, as well as the excitement of getting together with family and friends. Yet with all the joy we find during the holidays, it’s also a season fraught with danger for seniors who face greater risks of falling for one reason or another:

  • Climbing on stools or step ladders to bring down the good china or decorations.
  • Tripping over an extension cord that has been brought out for the Christmas lights.
  • Getting in and out of cars to go to restaurants and visit relatives.
  • Walking on icy pathways and parking lots.
  • Being a little tipsy from having an extra drink or two.
  • Reaching to put an ornament or an angel high on a Christmas tree.

If you’re getting advanced in years, these are just a few common occurrences that can put you on the floor or the ground in a heartbeat, and make you wish the angel on your tree is watching over you somehow.

For additional causes of falls and how to avoid them, refer back to our article on fall prevention posted on October 9. More recently, on November 6 to be exact, we took a look at how to pick yourself up from a fall, which is much easier said than done. Today, we wrap up our series on falls with the most important topic of all: how to recover from a fall that has caused a physical injury and possibly psychological damage as well.

Thanks to the Baby Boomer generation steadily getting older, many seniors are approaching their late 70s, which means they are well beyond the age when a fall merely results in a few minor scrapes and bruises. And they’re fast approaching the age of 80 when more than half of all people experience a fall each year and those often lead to fractures and even death. Consider these alarming statistics related to falling:

  • Approximately 9,500 deaths of older Americans are associated with falls each year.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age.
  • Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months.
  • When an older person falls, his or her hospital stays are almost twice as long as those of older patients who are admitted for any other reason.
  • Among people aged 85 and older, one out of every 10 falls results in a hip fracture.
  • One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury.A broken hip itself is rarely fatal, but long periods confined to a bed or being inactive leads to other complications, including depression and pneumonia.

While falls are a major fear for older adults, often signaling the onset of serious physical concerns and a potential loss of independence, a fall doesn’t have to be life-threatening or even life-altering. If you or a loved has recently experienced a fall, here are some things to keep in mind to help with a full recovery.

Understand that falls will happen

Despite taking preventive measures, seniors are afflicted by falls more often than you may realize and the number reported in recent years is on the rise. Falls can occur for a number of reasons, from a defective shoe to cognitive impairment, weather conditions or even a simple distraction. The important thing to understand is that falls aren’t necessarily a physical failure, and there’s no need to get too discouraged if one does happen.

Fitness is a significant factor

The New York Times determined that, not surprisingly, one of the biggest indicators of how well an older adult could be expected to recover after a fall was directly tied to his or her level of physical ability. Those who were physically active were far more likely to recover more fully and quickly than those who are typically inactive.

Brenda Olivarez, Life Enrichment Director at Sunshine’s Garden Way Retirement Community in Eugene, Oregon, concurs.

“The best thing is to be a very active person beforehand and do a lot of bone-loading exercises for your legs,” she says. “But if the person is frail and does not stay on top of their health, unfortunately, they could easily pass away from a broken hip or other serious fracture.”

Consequently, an important element of recovery for any senior who has fallen is to improve their level of physical fitness as much as possible through regular exercise. Even if an individual is living with a disability, regular activity and physical therapy can help maximize functioning, which can be a huge factor in post-fall recovering. All Sunshine Retirement communities have regular group programs that can enhance your fitness, many specifically designed for victims of falls, including balance and muscle strength exercises.

Break down psychological barriers with living space changes

While falls are the leading cause of physical injury among seniors, much of the damage they do is psychological. Even seniors who were relatively fit and physically independent prior to their slip can suffer a huge blow to self-confidence and leave them feeling unsure about living on their own.

One way to combat a sudden lack of confidence is to create a safe space during the recovery process. This can involve everything from rearranging furniture to allow more support while moving around to widening walkways throughout the home. Brenda Olivarez offers this helpful list to those who have survived a fall:

  • Make sure your home is safe in case you come home with a walker or another device to help you move around.Have your family make more room so that the trip hazards are not as high.
  • Get rid of rugs! Or at least make sure they are new and do not have holes in them.
  • If you have dark hallways, get night lights so that you can see where you are going when you get up in the night for the bathroom.
  • Install handrails/grab bars in the bathroom and shower, and add a shower chair until you are stable enough to stand on the wet tile. Have someone install “grip strip” on the shower floor to make it less slippery.
  • Make sure the handrails along steps and stairways are secure and sturdy.
  • Have a cell phone or an emergency alert necklace in case another emergency happens and you need help immediately.

Not only can these suggestions reduce the chance of additional falls during the delicate recovery period, they can give you the confidence to make physical recovery faster and easier.

Healing the break

Unless you’re lucky enough to simply walk away with some mild bruising, chances are you’ll require some type of treatment and recovery period. Many people end up with hip, rib, shoulder, ankle, foot or wrist factures. Typically, a broken bone will need to be kept straight and immobile while it heals in order to fuse together correctly. That’s fine in theory, but in practice, it can make things difficult, especially if you are someone who is used to being active. Before you try to go back to your old routine, consult with your doctor or therapist and stick with their prescribed timetable.

Living with a cast

If you’ve broken a bone in your hand or foot, it’s likely you’ll have a cast applied, and mobility will almost certainly become an issue. Rather than pushing your body through the pain, it’s important to adjust your lifestyle to account for the cast or splint. Spinal injuries may require a therapeutic brace or corset to keep the spine steady while you heal, and that can dramatically decrease your regular range of motion.

Here are some good tips to help you get through your time with your cast:

  • Unless your foot cast is designed for walking, don’t put your body weight on it.
  • Keep swelling down by propping up the limb when sitting.
  • Practice toning the muscles around and under the cast with physio-approved exercises.

Patience is a virtue

You can expect to be in a cast or splint for at least six weeks, but a break can take significantly longer to heal depending on the bone and the nature of the fracture. Listen to your doctor and your body. While there are average guidelines for healing a break, there is no absolute standard timeline because everybody is different. If you’re feeling pain and fatigue, these are signs that you might be pushing your body too hard.

Regaining strength

With the right help, you can begin regaining your strength well before the cast comes off. Your doctor will definitely provide a rehabilitation program for after surgery or the setting of the bone. Therapists and specialists will help you with targeted mobility and strengthening exercises, and the staff at your retirement community will surely provide recovery support as well.

Continuing your rehab

Rehab and recovery under medical supervision is important, but your improvement will grind to a halt if you don’t keep up the strengthening on your own. Hip fractures are among the most common osteoporosis-related injuries, and while they can be difficult to heal, a study out of Boston University found that patients recovering from hip surgery who did specific exercises at home enjoyed significantly more function and mobility.

How yoga can help

Along with rebuilding muscle, improving your balance will definitely help your recovery. Beginning a gentle yoga routine could be your best bet for a better balance. Don’t worry about the challenging postures that your granddaughter can do. Yoga instructors at most Sunshine Retirement communities will focus on slow and deliberate movements to nurture your balance on both sides of your body. Many of our instructors have experience with rehabilitation and can offer close and careful guidance through your practice, even starting you off with Chair Yoga.

Learning from your fall

After you’ve had a bad fall, you’ll naturally be a bit more cautious. You might be reluctant to go out in bad weather or cover longer distances on your own. However, strengthening muscles and improving your cardiovascular fitness are vital parts of the rehabilitation process and will absolutely improve your longevity. So whatever you do, don’t swear off exercise and become a couch potato.

“Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help – no matter or how big or small,” says Brenda. “Make sure all your future movements are safe and steady to avoid another accident. And above all, NEVER STOP MOVING and DO NOT LIVE IN FEAR. The more fear you move with, the higher the chances of you falling again. Keep engaging with everyone around you as you had before.”

While the fall season suggests that the end of the year is approaching, the time of year that could cause a fall doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you or your loved ones. We hope this series will help you stay on your feet and enjoy many happy holiday seasons to come.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, November 2019. Some content provided by sunriseseniorliving.com, comfortkeepers.com, silversneakers.com
and newlifeoutlookosteoporosis.com

Yes, You Can Get Back Up Again

If you’ve watched a fair amount of television over the past 30 years or so, chances are you’ve seen the Life Alert® commercial with the elderly woman lying on the floor who cries, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Maybe you’ve even chuckled at the actress’s melodramatic performance. But once you’ve gotten older and experienced a sudden fall when no one else is around for yourself, you know it’s no laughing matter.

In the second of our series on avoiding and recovering from falls, we take a close look at what aging adults can do to help get themselves or someone else up off the floor and do a quick damage assessment.

If You Should Fall

Let’s say the unthinkable happens. You’re carrying a large box of photos to work on a scrapbook. You trip over unseen cat or a misplaced throw rug. Next thing you know, you’re in a heap on the floor and help is nowhere in sight. Here’s what to do:

  • Remain calm and assess your physical well-being.
  • Can you get up? Do you feel pain if you try?
  • Stay down as long as it takes to assess your condition, and do not make any overly strenuous or sudden movements.

When you’re ready to get up, follow these steps:

  • Lie down on your side. Bend your top leg and lift your upper body into position resting on your elbow.
  • Pull your body toward a sturdy stationary object. Drag yourself up into a kneeling position while using your hands to pull yourself up.
  • Put your strong leg in front of your body while you are holding the stationary object.
  • Stand up. Check to see if you are bleeding or feel excessive pain that may suggest a broken bone.
  • If you are near a chair, turn, sit down, and call for assistance. A video that clearly demonstrates these movements and other get-yourself-up techniques are available here.

If you cannot get up or fall back down, follow these steps:

  • If you think you can be heard, call out for help.
  • If you can reach your cell phone without straining yourself, or if you have a fall-prevention lanyard, use it to call for assistance.
  • If you do not have your cell phone or an emergency call device on hand, slide yourself to the nearest phone or bench.
  • Make as much noise as possible to draw attention to yourself. Use your walking implement if you have one.
  • Get as comfortable as possible and wait for help.

If Your Friend or Loved One Falls

If you’re with a person who has fallen and you cannot get them up by yourself, call for medical assistance, and then administer first aid without moving them. If you do not know first aid, make sure the person is as comfortable as possible until professional medical assistance arrives. Pay special attention to the joints in case something has broken.

If the person who has fallen can get up, help them by bringing a chair. Then follow the five steps listed above for getting yourself up in the section titled, “If You Should Fall.”

Getting Help

Whether you are the victim of a fall or the “first responder” on the scene, you should never underestimate the gravity of a fall for an older adult. Do not assume that just because no after-effects are readily apparent that there are none.

If any of the following things seem to follow as a result of a fall, call a doctor immediately:

  • Any visually apparent injury or lingering pain.
  • Weakness,dizziness or nausea.
  • Drowsiness or loss of consciousness.
  • Headaches or vision problems.

These symptoms may appear immediately after a fall or they could take a few days to

Any elder adult who is at risk of falling should have a charged cell phone in an easily accessible place. However, having an emergency fall device is even better. These devices have only one function—summoning professional medical help immediately. They also have a much longer battery life and are much easier for many older adults to use. Some of these devices may even be connected to insurance programs that can help pay for the equipment.

We hope some of these ideas will keep you or a loved one from spending some unpleasant hours alone on the floor or ground with no access to food, water or a bathroom. Stay tuned for the third and final installment in this series where we look at how to regain strength and confidence when not breaking your fall ends up damaging part of your body.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, October, 2019. Some content was provided by mayoclinic.org and aging.com

The Landing’s “Aunt Mina” Celebrates her 105Th Birthday in Grand Style

You can’t blame The Landing at Behrman Place for not having enough candles to put on Mina Kaiser’s birthday cake last week. After all, it’s not every day a resident turns 105. And by the time they could get all of those candles lit, it wouldn’t be her birthday anymore.

Of course, when you get to be Mina’s age, you’re entitled to extend the celebration somewhat, and that’s exactly what she did – celebrating with her nieces and nephews on the 22nd (her actual birthday) and partying with her fellow Sunshine residents the next day – both at The Landing.

That’s right. We said, “nieces and nephews,” not “children and grandchildren.” Although she was married to Russell Kaiser for more than 30 years, the couple never had children. But the children of her beloved sisters, Ruth (Thomann), Violet (Wertheimer), Ethel (Oechsner Howe) and Olga (Foley) treat Mina like their own mother, especially since she’s the last remaining survivor of the siblings.

Actually, all of the siblings were survivors in the true sense of the word. Ethel was the oldest of the Oeschner children, born in 1907 and Mina was the youngest of the five girls, born in 1914 – all of them in New Orleans. A younger brother named George was born in 1916. Sadly, their mother died during an influenza epidemic in 1917, but their father kept the family together with the help of his sister and the nuns at the Episcopal Girls Home.

As the girls came of age, they attended the Soule’ Business College in New Orleans, where they each learned a trade. Mina enjoyed sewing and studied to become a seamstress, which paved the way for a 35-year career in the lingerie department at Maison Blanche, a well-known department store on Canal Street. With no children to chase around, Mina stayed in shape walking back and forth to work, and she and her sisters loved to go fishing, crabbing and swimming on nearby Lake Pontchartrain.

The Storm of the Century

Fast forward to 2005: Mina, Violet and Ruth were widows and the last three remaining siblings of the family. They each lived in their own homes in the New Orleans area when Hurricane Katrina came through in August, destroying almost everything they owned. Mina was rescued by boat and evacuated to Florida. Thanks to the Red Cross, she was reunited with her sisters three weeks later. With literally no place to go, Mina and her two sisters found their way to The Landing in February of 2006, where they shared a two-bedroom apartment.

“The Golden Girls,” as they became known, loved living together at The Landing. It’s safe to say the food and activities were far more enjoyable than what they grew up with at the Episcopal Girls Home.

Eventually, Ruth passed away at the ripe age of 100 in 2009 and Violet succumbed just a month before her 100th birthday a couple of years later. Mina, however, just keeps on going with the help of her caregivers Joyce Williams and Sabrina Carney.

“Ms. Mina is a fighter,” says Joyce, who has taken care of Mina for the last five years. “She just takes it one day at a time, eats well and doesn’t take any medicine. She keeps up on things by reading the paper and watching TV.”

“It was great to have so many family members together at The Landing for Aunt Mina’s 105th,” said Christine Landry, Mina’s niece. “She didn’t dance like she did at her 100th birthday. But she loved the pork chop dinner, the Gentilly cake, the flowers, the balloons, and all the attention.”

In honor of her 105th birthday, the New Orleans City Council created a special proclamation for Aunt Mina. But having her at The Landing makes every day special for us.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, October, 2019.

Just Because Leaves Are Falling Doesn’t Mean You Have To

Unless you live in a banana belt surrounded by swaying palm trees, you’ve probably noticed a slight chill in the air and a hint of color on the trees outside. That’s because in the wee hours of last Monday morning, the autumnal equinox launched the official beginning of fall. One by one, the leaves on the deciduous trees will tumble to the ground.

This blog post marks the first installment in a series of safety topics an,d autumn seemed like an appropriate time of year to consider how seniors can avoid a fall of their own

According to a recent survey, one in every four Americans over the age of 65 will suffer a fall this year. As seniors reach their 70s, that number increases to one in three. Those are especially alarming statistics, when you consider that nearly 25% of those falls result in serious injuries, such as broken wrists, hips, ankles, and other bones, Fortunately, there are several precautions to help keep those bones, and self-esteem, intact.

Simple tips to prevent falls

As seniors get older, physical changes and health conditions — and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions — can make falls more likely A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This social isolation can result in further physical decline, depression and feelings of helplessness.

Get back to enjoying your golden years and consider these simple fall-prevention strategies to keep the fear of falling at bay:

1. Keep moving

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall-prevention. With a doctor’s approval, consider adding activities into your routine such as walking, water workouts, yoga, tai chi or dancing. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility.

“Chair Yoga is a great safe foundation of fitness for seniors,” says Tina Bertelle, Life Enrichment Director at The Clairmont in Austin, Texas. “I am certified as a Chair Yoga instructor, I teach Yoga Flow, and I’m a green belt in Taekwondo. So, I incorporate Tai Chi and different kinds of movements into almost every day of our lives. We segue from peaceful Japanese music for Tai Chi into some Country/Western music to stretch out and keep our bodies moving.

“Residents even have homework to practice their ‘CAT’ and ‘COW’ spell-out poses from the chair. It’s a running joke that I tell them to ‘have a Cow’ every Wednesday.”

The results of movement classes at The Clairmont and other communities have been overwhelmingly positive.

“We have seen residents with low oxygen stats get back to normal,” says Tina, “and people who were not able to move or stretch are now able to touch their toes without pain.”

For those seniors who avoid physical activity because they’re afraid it will make a fall more likely, Tina has just a few words of advice: “Move it or lose it!” she says.

2. Wear sensible shoes

Swapping out footwear can be a practical part of any fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers, and shoes with slick soles can cause slips, stumbles, and falls. Properly fitted, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles are best for preventing falls and can even reduce. joint pain when worn over time.

3. Remove hazards

Take a look around your living area and get rid of unnecessary hazards:

  • Remove boxes, electrical cords, and phone cords from walkways.
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks, and plantstands from high-traffic areas.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose
    rugs entirely.
  • Store clothing, dishes, food, and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease, or food.

4. Light up your living space

Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:

  • Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
  • Place a lamp within reach of your bed for those middle-of-the-night needs.
  • Make clear paths to light switches that aren’t near room entrances.
  • Replace traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

5. Use assistive devices

If you feel dizzy or wobbly occasionally, consider using a cane or walker. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:

  • Install grab bars and use nonslip mats in the shower or bathtub.
  • Use a bath seat and a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down.
  • Consider a raised toilet seat or one with armrests.

6. Consult the doctor

If you have serious concerns about falling, it’s a good idea to talk with your health care specialists and check on the following:

  • What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off medications that make you tired or affect your thinking.
  • Have you (almost) fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how
    you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
  • Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your
    risk of falls, including wearing bifocals. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk?

Your doctor may recommend solutions or precautions that may require professional help
or a larger investment. If cost is a concern, remember that an investment in fall- prevention is an investment in independence.

Prevention is the best way to avoid the injuries and other problems related to falls. But
accidents happen despite the best laid plans. In our next installment, we’ll explore what to do if
you or a loved one experiences a serious fall. Until then, stay safe and let the leaves do all the

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, September, 2019. Some content was provided by mayoclinic.org and aging.com

Sunshine Residents find 7th Annual Wellness Month is the Perfect Fit

Wellness – noun, the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

Centuries ago, early explorers spent the better part of their lives searching in vain for a mythical “Fountain of Youth.” By the looks of things today, many Sunshine residents have found the source of a longer and healthier life right in their own communities.

From coast to coast, our Life Enrichment Directors are putting a wrap on Wellness Month for another year. But after giving residents a good taste of fitness and wellness, they certainly aren’t turning off the desire for them to keep living well. To refresh your memory, here’s how Wellness Month has played out in most communities.

Sunshine’s Wellness Month began with a Kickoff Party on August 1, where each community provided opportunities throughout the month for residents to learn Wellness practices from¬¬ local professionals based on four different categories – Get Informed, Get Fit, Get Restored and Give Back.

Get Informed

We live in a changing world where information about new ideas, policies, problems and solutions constantly arise. Getting informed and learning about these new things can help us live healthier lives. A few examples of opportunities to Get Informed this month included:

  • Seminars on Nutrition, Hydration, Exercise & Joints, Heat Stress, Fall Prevention, Eye Care, High Cholesterol and Massage Therapy.
  • Blood Pressure and Cancer Screenings and Hearing Checks.
  • Health & Wellness Fairs.
  • Orthopedic Talks

“An RN from Memorial Hospital came out and talked to the residents about Heat Stress,” claims MerryBeth Grant, LED at The Verandah in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “She gave them the warning signs and symptoms of Heat Stress and ways to protect themselves. The nurse also informed the residents that different medications can impair the body’s ability to regulate body temperature.”

Merry Bethalso talked to the residents about the importance of staying hydrated. They learned about the symptoms of dehydration and ways to prevent it.

“We told them about the five myths and facts of drinking water,” she says. “Since so many of them don’t love to drink water, we also discussed how they could get their water through eating lots of different fruits and vegetables. In the end, they each got a water bottle and a nice cold glass of ginger water infused with honey, lemon, cucumber, and spearmint.”

Get Fit

For those who have been watching life from the sidelines for a while, the thought of getting fit may seem daunting. But the payoffs of living a longer, healthier life are well worth it. The first step is to develop a good attitude and set achievable fitness goals. Then keep track of progress and get into a sustainable routine. To make things easier, residents are encouraged to buddy up with a friend to support and challenge each other, then switch things up and try new things together. Some of this month’s Get Fit offerings have included:

  • Dance Parties and Cardio Challenges.
  • Wii Bowling Tournament.
  • Beginning Taekwondo.
  • Healthy Happy Hours and Smoothie Socials.
  • Cornhole Tournaments.
  • Senior Olympics featuring Bean Bag Baseball and Potato Golf.

Complete with opening and closing ceremonies, the Senior Olympics is one of the perennial highlights of Wellness Month in Austin, Texas. This year, The Clairmont hosted their friendly crosstown rivals from The Continental and according to Life Enrichment Director (LED) Olga Rosalez, the competition breeds an amazingly warm and friendly camaraderie, while bringing a lot of enjoyment to their Wellness campaign.

“The Summer Games creates an essential physical activity for body and mind,” she states. “Participating and engaging with a friendly, competitive and fun mode promotes wellness and an overall positive way of life.”

Olga notices a positive change in residents like Wendell Sharptonof The Continental.

“Wendell strives to stay engaged in most activities and outings,” she says. “His overall wellness has improved tremendously in the last five years.”

Wendell wholeheartedly agrees.

“Wellness Month gets my attention and concentration on my wellness,” he says.“I put extra effort to stay hydrated and eat the right foods. Overall wellness is extremely important to me, especially at my age.”

Even without the rivalry of Senior Olympics, residents and staff members had spirited competitions in several communities, including Fountain Crest in Lehigh Acres, Florida. “This is the first time that we’ve had the Wi Bowling Challenge with the residents and staff,” claimed LED Debbie Whiteaker. “My residents are very competitive and wanted to create more interaction between staff and residents. The staff took turns coming out to bowl their games in the activity room and some and the residents who do not participate in many group programs came to watch. We have many residents who bowl very well and achieved perfect scores.”

Stacy Harrison, LED at The Landing at Behrman Place in New Orleans also decided to jazz things up this year with a new twist.

“We actually have spiced up Wellness Month by going back into the ‘50s,” she said.“We were‘Rockin’ Around the Clock’ at the Landing Fabulous ‘50’s Birthday Bash on the 18th.”

Get Restored

Getting physically and mentally restored is essential for your health. With our hectic lives, we are constantly on the move and over time this has caused damage to our quality of life. We need to reclaim balance and give ourselves some much-needed peace of mind, body, and soul. Sunshine residents have been Getting Restored this month through:

  • Relaxation Days and Spa Treatments (Massage, Pedicure, Aromatherapy, etc.).
  • Essential Oils and Foot Soaks.
  • Nature Therapy.
  • Drum Circles
  • Relaxing String Concerts.
  • Laughter is Medicine Workshops.
  • Mary Kay and Estee Lauder Facials.

“I really enjoy the pillow spray,” said Wilma of Country Club Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas. “I made two different ones and used the lemongrass and jasmine scent on my pillows and it helped me relax and have a good sleep.”

Give Back

Volunteering services or donating goods and money are not only beneficial for the recipients, but for the givers as well. Doing good for others and paying it forward does wonders for self-esteem, and having money to donate is not a requirement. This year, Sunshine’s Give Back activities featured:

  • Collection Events for Pediatric Hospitals and the ASPCA.
  • Cookie Decorating and Thank You cards for local Police and Fire Departments.
  • Clothing Drives and Bake Sales.
  • Eye Glasses Donations.

At the beginning of the month, residents received a special Wellness Calendar and a Wellness Stamp Card. Since then, they have been rewarded with a stamp on their card every time they attended a Wellness event highlighted on the Calendar. As the month ends, most of the communities will be hosting a Wellness Awards Ceremonyover the next few days, and every participant will be recognized and awarded. The resident who receives the most stamps on his or her card at each community will win a customized $50 Visa Gift Card for their efforts.

Bigger and Better Every Year

With wonderful incentives and noticeable results, it’s no wonder Wellness Month is going stronger than ever at most Sunshine communities.

“Wellness Month sets the tone every year for our residents by providing them with great information that helps them gracefully age in place,” said Everett Williams, Executive Director at The Continental, who has witnessed positive outcomes for several years.

Tiffanie Harper, Executive Director at Country Club Village concurs.

“I think that it pushes the residents to be more active and come out of their shell,” she says. “I notice that the residents that don’t normally come to many activities seem to come out during Wellness Month. I think having a healthy competition is good for them and helps them build habits that carry on past Wellness Month, which in turn, leads to a healthier way of life!”

It’s been a real eye-opener for Country Club Village LED Star Longinotti, who experienced her first Wellness Month this year.

“I am enjoying the Wellness tradition!” she claims.“Our morning exercise classes have really increased to 23-25 people most mornings. And we’ve had to increase our water cooler jugs because we’re going through them faster than our delivery schedule.”

That about sums it up. Who needs to search for a Fountain of Youth when there’s always plenty of refreshing Wellness inspiration – and ice-cold water – to go around.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, September 2019.

Moon Landing Anniversary Stirs Celebrations, Brings Back Fond Memories

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.

  • Apollo 11 launched at 9:32 am EDT on July 16, 1969, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, named, of course, for President John F. Kennedy, who in 1961 implored NASA to achieve the goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” before the end of the decade. Apollo 11 did just that
  • After traveling nearly half a million miles from earth. The Lunar Excursion Module (“Eagle”) landed at 4:18 pm on July 20
  • Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours and 36 minutes on the surface of the moon, planting the American flag, collecting rocks and taking photos. Poor astronaut Collins had to stay back in the Command Module (“Columbia”) which made it possible for the intrepid spacemen to return home
  • The astronauts brought back 40 pounds of rocks and captured more than 300 color and black & white photos using Hasselblad 70 mm cameras
  • Aldrin played Frank Sinatra’s recording of “Fly Me to the Moon” while exploring the lunar surface. (Quick! How many other songs about the moon can you name without asking Google? From Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” to Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” there are literally hundreds of them.)
  • Aldrin and Armstrong took a long-distance call from then-President Richard Nixon, who claimed it as “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.”
  • It’s estimated that between 500-600 million people – 1/5 of the world’s population – watched the moonwalk on TV or followed along on the radio.

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!

This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living,July, 2019. Some content was provided by Parade.com/Apollo.

Knowing Which Amenities are Included Helps Seniors Compare Options

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.

Move-In Coordination

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.

Meals and Snacks

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.

Gym Membership

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.

Activities and Outings

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.

Local Transportation

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.

Travel Program

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.

Other Amenities

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!

Hang on to Your Hats (and Sombreros)! May Starts Out With a Bang at Sunshine Retirement Communities

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:

Derby day

“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.

Don’t Discount These Serious Senior Discounts

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:

  • Deals on health care, including eye exams, glasses and contacts, as well as on prescriptions.
  • Discounted life, auto and pet insurance.
  • Significant savings on travel (flights, cruises, railways, hotels and car rentals).
  • Savings at no less than 28 national restaurants.

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:

1. Save big on your cell phone bill

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.

2. Bumper-to-bumper auto service discounts

If you’re 55 or over and still own a car, you can save 10% at Pep Boys and Jiffy Lube.

3. Great Discounts on Groceries and Other Shopping

Any senior living on a fixed income should never shopping without being aware of these enticing discounts:

  • American Discount Stores – 10% off every Monday (62+).
  • Banana Republic – 10% off total purchase (50+).
  • Clark’s – 10% off shoes (62+).
  • Fred Meyer – 10-15% off on the first Tuesday of each month (55+).
  • New Seasons – 10% off every Wednesday on most items (65+).
  • Goodwill – 10% off on Tuesdays (60+).
  • Michaels – 10% off (55+).
  • Jo-Ann Fabrics – a senior discount day that included 20% off (55+).
  • Kohl’s – 15% discount on Wednesdays (60+).
  • Rite Aid – various discounts including 20% on the first Wednesday of each month (65+).
  • Habitat for Humanity Restore – 20% off on Thursdays at select locations (55+).

4. Trim your travel budget

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:

  • Greyhound – 5% off (62+).
  • Amtrak – 10% off (65+).
  • National Parks Service – discounted senior pass for $80 (62+).
  • Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean (55+).
  • Hotels including Best Western Days Inn, Hyatt, Marriott, Ramada and Wyndham offer savings at various ages.
  • Hertz Car Rental – various “Baby Boomer” discounts (50+).
  • Southwest Airlines – various discounts (65+).
  • United Airlines – various discounts (65+).
  • Uber – two free trips on the first day of every month.

5. Make your restaurant tab easier to swallow

While a lot of restaurants offer specials and coupons now and then, here are several popular ones that always feature tasty senior discounts:

  • Applebees – 10% discount
  • Burger King – 10% discount and discounts on drink items.
  • Chick-fil-A – 20% off during breakfast hours and 10% off during lunch/dinner hours.
  • Denny’s – senior menu with discounted prices.
  • Golden Corral – discounted menu prices (60+).
  • IHOP – senior menu as well as 10% off.
  • Outback Steakhouse – 10% off for AARP members.
  • Sonic – 10% discount.
  • Subway – 10% discount.
  • Wendy’s – free drink (or 10% off at some locations).
  • White Castle – 10% off (55+).

6. Once-in-a-lifetime deals on Life Insurance?

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.

This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, April, 2019. Some content was provided by aarp.com, Iloveretirement.com and thepennyhoarder.com.

Five Years of Giving Back Going Strong

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.

Going Green All Year Round

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.

This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, April, 2019. Some information was provided by Wikipedia.com.