Team Member Spotlight: The Path to Success

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

There’s a quiet but important success story happening at Valley View Gardens, a story that began with a simply stated desire to do more, to learn more, and to be more. The success came about through tenacity, trust, and recognition of talent.

Tierre Thornton says that very early on in her role as Executive Director at Valley View Gardens, she was approached by a young woman named Takeshia, a caregiver who expressed a desire to move forward and attain her LVN certificate. Takeshia had been at Valley View Gardens for some time, but hadn’t felt comfortable expressing this desire until she met Tierre and the new Executive Director asked, “How can I help in your success?” Tierre describes Takeshia as “a quiet yet methodical” caregiver with a tenacity and determination to succeed that was humbling to watch. She encouraged Takeshia to use that tenacity to meet the goals she had set for herself.

Tierre and Takeshia developed steps to follow toward her goal of becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse, with Takeshia quickly becoming a resource for training new care associates as well as being promoted to a Med Tech position. Takeshia, who has been at Valley View Gardens since 2009, shares that she worked as many shifts at Valley View Gardens as she could while finishing her last semester and sitting for her board exams to become an LVN. She says she was frustrated and disappointed when she didn’t pass her first test, but again she looked to Tierre for motivation and Tierre “gave her a push” to try again. That push, and her determination, fueled her next attempt. She was licensed in May.

Takeshia states that working with seniors at Valley View Gardens has been a privilege for her; she understands the needs of her residents and expresses that “you become family when you care for a resident. It means a lot to the elderly when caregivers truly care about their daily lives.”

While Takeshia doesn’t know exactly where her future in nursing will lead her, she does know that she has the skills to succeed as well as a solid foundation of support at Valley View Gardens, thanks to a mentor who listened to her goals and helped create a roadmap to success. Tierre, who says that Takeshia is a ”rock star” for her dedication and trust in the process, credits the culture of talent recognition at Senior Lifestyle for giving them both the tools to ensure success.

Congratulations to Takeshia!

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Posted by in Special Events.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a time to go purple to show support for the millions of people worldwide struggling with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It’s also a time to recognize caregivers for the unwavering support they provide to those suffering with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. At Senior Lifestyle, we support The Alzheimer’s Association’s commitment to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s by participating in The Longest Day, a fundraiser that focuses on participants doing what they love to raise money for research.

The Longest Day may seem like every day in the life of a caregiver; providing aid for activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and eating can become sources of frustration for the person providing the aid as well as the loved one with dementia. Quite often the only thing in the caregiver’s control is their response to the frustrating circumstance.

Effective communication techniques can help limit some of the frustration felt by the caregiver and the person with dementia. It is incredibly important to remember that your loved one is not in control of their behaviors; the disease dictates the behavior. In addition, every behavior is an attempt to communicate; once you decipher the need behind the behavior, you will be in a better position to meet that need.

Wondering about The Longest Day? There’s still time to participate! Contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association or visit our website to find the Senior Lifestyle community closest to you. Learn about The Longest Day events in your area, and then vow to make every minute of The Longest Day count!

Being a Long-Distance Caregiver

Posted by in Expert Advice.

At Senior Lifestyle, we know that providing care for a loved one can be a daunting task, as well as an infinitely rewarding one. We understand that caregivers face an ever-changing array of challenges daily; frustration often walks hand in hand with fulfillment as the caregiver provides for both the physical and emotional needs of their loved one. Being a “long-distance caregiver” can add difficulty to an already difficult process, and with the growing trend of adult children living hours away from aging parents it is vital to have clear communication and local support. For families without this support, a visit can become quite stressful for both the caregiver and the senior, with quality time often taking a backseat to more urgent matters such as bill-payment and yard maintenance.

Many caregivers describe the pull between practical matters and quality time as a balancing act. For a long-distance caregiver, especially an adult child, this balancing act can become more difficult with each visit as more help with activities of daily living becomes necessary for the senior. Relationships between child and parent can become strained as their roles change. Adult children often feel guilty when unable to visit parents as often as they’d like, and even guiltier when they must delegate everyday tasks to their loved one’s friends or neighbors. Ironically, subtle changes in a loved one’s physical appearance, behavior, and ability to manage their surroundings are often more apparent to a long-distance caregiver than to a friend or neighbor who sees the senior regularly.

• Is the refrigerator adequately stocked? Is the food spoiled? Preparing meals can become a difficult task for the senior; it may be time to look into meal delivery or help with meal prep.

• Are there noticeable changes in the condition of the home? If your loved one has always been neat and tidy and you find that cleaning is going undone, this may be a sign that help is needed with housekeeping duties. The same holds true for personal appearance; dressing and grooming can become burdensome and exhausting for some seniors with decreased mobility.

• Are the bills paid? Do you notice unopened piles of mail? Paying bills and balancing a checkbook can become stressful for your loved one. A trusted friend or family member may need to step in to keep up with money matters.

Finding local resources is a key factor in successful long-distance caregiving. Homecare agencies have been a boon to the aging-in-place trend and can often help keep a senior living safely at home longer by providing assistance with activities of daily living such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry. Local senior centers can often provide referrals for services as well. The National Institute on Aging has made several valuable resources available for long-distance caregivers who’d like to learn more about how to make the most out of the time they are able to spend with loved ones.

Discovering that your loved one needs more care than can be managed at home? Visit our website to learn more about independent and assisted living options in your area. Senior Lifestyle believes that preparing for and researching next steps such as respite care and assisted living can help long-distance caregivers focus more on quality time with loved ones and less on practical matters relating to safety and care. Shifting this focus helps caregivers make the most of each visit, and that’s what counts.

Memory Care and EMBRACE at the Amethyst

Posted by in Special Events.

What happens when compassion meets commitment? embrace.

A memory care philosophy combining the most recent research in the field of memory care with real world best practices, the embrace memory care program recently garnered an Argentum Best of the Best award for its Essence sensory stimulation program, a vital component of embrace programming. For residents, families and team members at The Amethyst, embrace is now the guiding philosophy for the daily events in memory care, providing a framework for building connections with residents in varying stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. A Grand Opening event was held on June 1st to celebrate embrace at The Amethyst and to share the philosophy with the local community.

For residents of the memory care unit and their families, the embrace Grand Opening celebration was a much-anticipated event. Many even said that it “gave them goosebumps!” to share the activities that give purpose and pleasure to memory care residents. Sharing The Amethyst’s vision of award-winning care was exciting for Associate Executive Director Shari Lefevre and her team. It was a culmination of their hard work and dedication to their residents and families.

Over 50 guests visited The Amethyst to learn about embrace and participate in activities designed to show how the philosophy guides daily interactions. Essence, an award-winning component of embrace, was a big hit with guests, who had the opportunity to receive hand massages and experience the positive effects of aromatherapy for themselves. Another highlight was Andrew Eaker’s Drum Circles for Seniors program, an energetic and wildly popular activity that brings people together through the magic of music.

Of the many activities offered at The Amethyst’s celebration, perhaps the most popular was a simple craft activity that involved making birthday cards. Guests joined residents and The Amethyst team to create birthday cards with a unique purpose: to bring a smile to the face of a very special young man in Arizona. Jacob Priestley is battling mitochondrial disease, a debilitating illness, and he says that the cards brighten his days and give him hope. “They make me feel better and they just make me happy.” Jacob started receiving birthday cards after his mother Britney posted a request on Facebook and the request went viral. His birthday is in August and he hopes to receive even more cards this year! Guests added twenty cards to those previously made by residents and team members, and The Amethyst hopes to increase that number over the summer before sending the handmade cards to Jacob for his August birthday.

Interested in learning more about embrace at The Amethyst? Call to request a visit, or better yet, join The Amethyst for The Longest Day, a celebration to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. The event will feature a vendor fair, a bounce house, dunk tank, and the local police department, as well as a chance to create a special birthday card for Jacob Priestley! The event will be held from 8am until 1pm on June 21st, with food, fun and family friendly activities!

Raise Awareness for Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day

Posted by in Special Events.

Have you heard? The Longest Day is approaching and we’re absolutely PURPLE with excitement! June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time to GO PURPLE to end Alzheimer’s, raise awareness, and share the love on June 21st by participating in The Longest Day. Worldwide, 47 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Senior Lifestyle is spreading the word in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Our goal is to share the important mission of the Alzheimer’s Association, and we hope to raise awareness with each person we reach.

Our commitment to supporting those who live, support, care for, and walk alongside others on this journey is also a personal one. Like so many others around the country, our employees are personally impacted by this disease; we are sisters, brothers, daughters and sons of people battling Alzheimer’s. One team member summarized this impact perfectly when they said, “Watching my Dad’s face when he was given the diagnosis of Early Stage Alzheimer’s was one of the hardest days of my life. From that day on, my commitment to the Alzheimer’s Association and to improving care and treatment for those living with this disease became more than a profession, it became my personal mission.” Our participation in The Longest Day is for our family, and it is Senior Lifestyle’s way of uniting to support other families around the nation, so that no family is alone in their fight.

At Senior Lifestyle, we are proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise funds for crucial research into Alzheimer’s Disease, research that we hope will one day reveal a cure for this disease. We are honored to support the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission and to be a Global Partner in this year’s The Longest Day event. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to support the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association, to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s, and to provide support to the residents, families, and communities that call Senior Lifestyle home. As of today, we’ve raised over $17,000 toward our $50,000 goal!

Join the fight! To learn more about how our communities are celebrating The Longest Day and how you can get involved, visit the Senior Lifestyle website. Remember, each person who learns more about Alzheimer’s disease inspires action, so GO PURPLE for the Alzheimer’s Association, spread the word, and support Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month this June!

Volunteers and Music – Heart and Soul of Lake Barrington Woods

Posted by in Community Spotlights.

Everyone’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers, said that his mother once told him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” These people may brighten a day with music, serve tea in the afternoon, or plan outings for a group, but regardless of how they help, they are always there. Lake Barrington Woods has been blessed with several such helpers as the heart and soul of the community.

RICHARD—Richard Wagner grew up surrounded by music, so when he and his mother were touring assisted living communities last December, he was pleased to see a piano in the foyer of Lake Barrington Woods. He’s taken lessons since the age of six and as a child he enjoyed listening to his dad play clarinet in the American Legion band. It was, therefore, natural for him to share his heart for music with the senior community when his mother moved to Lake Barrington Woods. He says that there is some tradition involved; in 1974, just out of law school and studying for the bar exam, he often visited his grandmother in a nursing home in Joliet and began playing for the residents there. Richard claims that “Good music is ageless,” and the folks at Lake Barrington Woods agree, gathering around the piano every week as he performs classics like “As Time Goes By” and his favorite opening song, “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”.

PEGGY—Peggy Hawrysko’s mom, Marian, was planning to move to a different senior community, but then Peggy dropped in to Lake Barrington Woods. She was wowed by the sense of “warmth and welcome” she felt during her visit. Her mom soon moved to Lake Barrington Woods and Peggy, who lives close to the community, visits often to help her mother adjust and encourage her to get involved in the daily activities offered. Her frequent visits have grown into volunteering in the community, with Peggy assisting by calling Bingo, going on outings, serving tea, and even watering the flowers on the patio. Peggy says she finds that her time at Lake Barrington Woods helps ease stress, and that the more she volunteers, the better she feels; she can often be found chatting with resident on her way to visit her mother. She says, “I love the staff here!” and with her heart for the elderly, she has become a valued friend to residents and staff alike.

ED—Ed Connelly is a retired music professor who has always been drawn to the piano. He began playing at six years old, on a piano he’d heard his mother play often in their home in Chicago. His love of music continued through high school and college, with not only a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in music, but also a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Ed taught music at Arkansas Tech University, leaving his mark with a reputation for musical excellence and a scholarship established in his name upon retirement. When he moved to Lake Barrington Woods last year, he was immediately drawn to the piano, playing classical music and drawing a crowd the first time he sat down at the instrument. Ed’s brother Robert, a retired audiologist and speech language pathologist, says that Ed has a rare talent for classical piano, an innate sense of the composer’s aim and an ear for the truest interpretation of any piece he plays. When asked if he is also musically inclined, Robert laughs and says “I’m just the page turner for Ed!” While Ed enjoys Jerome Kern and show-tunes, and is a long-time accompanist, his first love is classical music. A recent program he presented at Lake Barrington Woods included pieces by Chopin, Bartok and Grieg, music that Ed states “wears well.” If the crowd of over 30 people in attendance was any indication, Ed’s love of music has sparked an appreciation in many at Lake Barrington Woods!

Mirka Biegunska, Director of Resident Programs at Lake Barrington Woods, says that residents and staff in the senior community are very active in the local community, giving back by knitting hats for newborns, providing space for local charities, and hosting events. These volunteers truly have a heart for helping, as well as having music-loving souls!

Honoring Older Americans Month

Posted by in Holidays.

Along with a host of well-known holidays like Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, and some other not-so-well-known holidays like National Escargot Day and Lumpy Rug Day (sounds like a great hiding place for the escargot!), May was Older Americans Month. Among other days for recognizing seniors, this month rounded out the holidays with National Senior Health and Fitness Day on May 31. Here at Senior Lifestyle, we love to celebrate our seniors in any way possible, and regardless of what our residents at Senior Lifestyle communities chose to celebrate, they did so in style!

In 2017, Older Americans Month focused on the theme “Age Out Loud.” Seems quite fitting when one considers just how much our seniors have to say! Not so long ago, aging was seen as a passive activity, something that just took its course. Not so today; with seniors staying active far later into life and partnering with health care professionals to take an active role in their care, the face (and voice) of aging is changing. Senior Lifestyle strongly supports the new look of aging with programs designed to keep our residents engaged in whatever form of activity they enjoy.

What exactly does Age Out Loud mean? For many seniors, it means advocating for themselves and others, remaining engaged in their communities, and sharing wisdom won by years in the workforce by mentoring younger people. For others, Age Out Loud is about physical and mental fitness, and a conscious decision to stay active. Aging Out Loud promotes a sense of purpose and pride for seniors, and quite often changes others’ attitudes toward seniors in their community.

Having just ended Older Americans Month, why not make a personal choice to Age Out Loud? Get involved, take an active role in your care, pick up or continue a beloved hobby, or just make your goal one of increased social activity. Looking to learn more about how we “Age Out Loud” at Senior Lifestyle? Check out our website for a community near you and add your voice to the growing number of seniors who are actively choosing what aging looks like.