As I write I have been watching the rain fall onto the scorching blacktop streets of my neighborhood. It feels good on the porch in the evenings. But, the middle of the day is a bit unbearable for me. Summertime is no joke in Alabama. I remember moving South the summer of 1985. July to be exact. Being that I moved from way up North…it seriously took me two entire weeks for my system to adjust. Heat is not anything for anyone to play around with. It can be particularly concerning for the elderly. Here are some tips to help our seniors keep their cool this summer.
Drink Up! The key to staying healthy is to stay hydrated! Drink eight or more 8-ounce glasses per day of water every day. Be aware of the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The most common signs of dehydration in the elderly are thirst, confusion, irritability and poor skin elasticity. So, don’t wait…HYDRATE!
Block the Rays! Protect your skin from sun damage by wearing hats, sunglasses and don’t forget the sunscreen! Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Remember as we age, our skin becomes more sensitive to the sun.
Dress for Sunny Success! When selecting what to wear go with loose-fitting clothes in light colors that will reflect the sun and heat instead of darker colors that will absorb heat. This will help you avoid a sunburn and stay cool.
It’s important to know that extreme heat can wreak havoc on older adults. According to healthinaging.org, “Every summer, nearly 200 Americans die of health problems caused by high heat and humidity. Hot weather is more likely to cause health problems for older adults for a variety of reasons. These reasons include aging-related physical changes in the body, chronic health conditions, and even side effects of taking some medications.” Remember heat and dehydration may make seniors more prone to dizziness and falls and can cause/increase confusion. But the proper precautions can help set them up for success. If the heat is too extreme…stay inside with air conditioning! Keep you and your elderly loved ones safe this summer and do your part to help them beat the heat.
Assisted living is more than just a place to live. But for one family, it is actually a tradition. Resident Betty Sutton shared a picture with us recently of her mother at the Gardens of Eufaula. The part that makes this story so unique is that her late Mother was also a former resident at the Gardens of Eufaula. We sat down with Betty and asked her a few questions about her unique perspective as a former sponsor and now resident at the Gardens of Eufaula. Here is our five question Q & A session.
Question: Betty, what is your fondest memory of your Mom at the Gardens of Eufaula?
Answer: “I loved how we celebrated her birthdays at the Gardens! My late son Chip would bring his grill and he would cook for everyone and we would have a wonderful time. Birthdays are always special at the Gardens.”
Question: What was something that you remember that your Mom enjoyed at GOE?
Answer: “My Mother made a very special friend named Mrs. Teal when she lived at the Gardens. They were so close and it was so sweet to see their bond. I remember coming to pick Mother up to go for a ride and her always insisting that Mrs. Teal ride with us. We took many trips out for ice cream and even to see Christmas lights. We had a ball!”
Question: What is your favorite part about living at the Gardens?
Answer: “My new “sorority sisters” that I have met at the Gardens that I affectionately call the “Golden Girls”. These ladies out here are such fun. We love to pick at each other. They are really special to me.”
Question: What do you like at the Gardens that really surprised you?
Answer: I was truly surprised how much I would enjoy the friends that I have made. That may sound odd, but I have many wonderful friends and never imagined that I would find more that would become so dear to me.”
Question: What would you tell someone that might be considering moving to an assisted living?
Answer: “I would tell them to go ahead and take the leap. You will surprise yourself how well you will adjust. I know I did. Don’t hesitate if you have the opportunity to move here.”
Spring has sprung and one of the most therapeutic things for me is getting out and tending to flowers in the yard. Sadly, this only comes in small doses because my hectic schedule leads to the demise of many of my plants. I love to tell the story of how my Mom came for an extended stay and made it her business to water my neglected yard. She started spraying the plants on my front porch as I stood watching barefoot in the parched grass. “See how I’m reviving the porch plants? You must water them!” I nodded in approval, barely having the heart to tell her that she was doing an excellent job of knocking the dust off those fake plants. But given the chance, I love to plant, prune and water with the best of them. Being that many of our facilities have the name “The Gardens” in them it only makes sense that we have flowers and other plants on the grounds of our communities. Through the years I have learned valuable advice from many of my resident gardeners. Here are a couple invaluable tips I have discovered over the years.
Knock back the Knock Out Roses
One of my former residents, Mrs. Betty, had a lovely rose garden placed in her memory in front of our community by her family. After the garden had been there a little over a year, I was instructed by one of our sweet lady residents to cut the bushes back if I wanted them to grow. Cut it back?? But why?? It had some blooms. She explained that the blooms had become scarce and that the bush would be more full with blooms and leaves if I cut it back. So, paired with some thick leather gloves and long clippers I got to work. In no time at all the roses were prettier than they had ever been. Mrs. Betty would be so proud!
Pile Up the Pallets
In several of our other communities we have had fabulous gardens built up high so that residents do not have to stoop over to tend to them. These pallet gardens are a wonderful way to let residents get their hands dirty and show their skills. I love to get tips on when and how to grow vegetables in these gardens. One of the best tricks that a resident in Daphne once told me was to always check your Farmer’s Almanac on when and how to grow seeds or plants in the garden. Now you can access the Farmer’s Almanac online and it will allow you to pull up your location in Alabama and get tips specific to your region.
So, for some of the best therapy around, get down and dirty in the soil. Plant some pretty flowers or vegetables like our residents. It is a wonderful way to get cheap therapy and bloom where you are planted.
As children, many of us feel that we could live forever. In this day and age, thanks to modern medicine and other interventions, many are living to be 100 years old and older! The thought of living to be Centenarian intrigues me. But after a recent interview with Gardens of Wetumpka resident Mrs. Bennie McDonald, I was more than intrigued…I was inspired.
When Mrs. Bennie moved to the Gardens of Wetumpka, she very easily could have propped up her feet in an easy chair and rested on all of her many accomplishments. She had been a loving wife and mother and spent a very fulfilling career in education. She has painted a beautiful life all without the stroke of a brush….that is until she attended an art class at the Gardens of Wetumpka. You see, Mrs. Bennie hasn’t just been biding her time in the assisted living. She has been living life to the fullest. Mrs. Bennie began painting as a result of this activity at the assisted living. Today her artwork graces the halls of the building and is actually in high demand. She has even sold many of her paintings. With a careful hand and an artist’s eye she paints many beautiful pieces on her canvases. When asked what she thinks is the key to living a long life she explained that the Lord has carried her through many trials in life and that she wouldn’t be anywhere without Him.
She also explained that besides her artwork, the thing that makes her smile the most is her “wonderful children and the memories of her husband.” She expressed her delight that many former students have told her that she was a good influence on them. She continues to be an encourager as she has always been an avid gardener and now she has passed along her green thumb to one of her neighbors at the Gardens of Wetumpka. So amazing to think you may find a new talent in your life in your golden years. Mrs. Bennie is an inspiration for all of us to live each day fully, never stop learning and paint a beautiful life. Mrs. Bennie celebrated her 100th birthday on October 23rd.
I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life that someone offered me chocolate that I refused. That may be why I typically keep a pair of Spanx close by. But I must say that one of all-time favorite chocolate treats is a slice of chocolate layer cake. We have a precious lady at the Gardens that makes the absolute best chocolate cake that I have ever put in my mouth! So… when she agreed to put the recipe out to share on the blog, I jumped at the chance.
But before we get to that…here is a little background on the lady we affectionately refer to as ‘Aunt Dimp”
Dimple Zorn grew up just outside of Clayton, Alabama. She is a former Gardens of Eufaula queen and I tease her that she keeps the roads hot staying on the go… She has a love for life and is the mother of 3 wonderful children as well as the grandmother to 5 grandsons and 2 great grandsons and 2 great granddaughters. She was married to her late husband, Willie Ray for 66 years. Aunt Dimp told me that she started learning from her Mother how to cook at the age of 9 or 10. She says that she has always loved baking. She has agreed to help us learn to bake her special chocolate cake during an activity this week at the Gardens of Eufaula. This recipe has always been a requested favorite in her family. I hope you will take this recipe and share it with someone you love.
Aunt Dimp’s Chocolate Layer Cake
2 cups sugar
3 cups self-rising flour
1 cup oil
1 cup milk
Mix above ingredients together. Spray pans well with Bakers Choice (with flour). For 9 inch pans use ¾ cup of batter and for 8 inch pans use ½ cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees until done. Cake layers will not brown much.
3 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa
19 oz. can evaporated milk
2 ½ sticks margarine or butter
Mix above ingredients together. Let them come to a boil for 3 ½ minutes. Stack each layer and cover with filling. Then stack again until all layers have been stacked together with filling in between each layer.
Years of baking this cake taught me to add 3 extra tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon Karo light syrup to the remaining filling. Boil until thick, approximately 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Cover the entire cake with this mixture. Doing this makes a pretty cake.
Depending on the size cake pan you use, this cake will be 11 to 13 layers.
While strumming his guitar my Dad once told me that when it came to singing or playing an instrument that you must use it or lose it. That’s crazy I thought. I mean if you have an ability, you have an ability… right? WRONG! Try singing after not having done it in a few years and you might be shocked at the quality or tone that you produce. It’s not pretty, trust me. Just in the way that you must utilize a talent to keep it going, you also must work your brain to keep it healthy.
According to John E. Morley, MD, director of St. Louis University’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of The Science of Staying Young, “simple games like Sudoku and word games are good, as well as comic strips where you find things that are different from one picture to the next,”In addition to word games, there are other brain stimulating activities.
- Socialization to improve the brain situation! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, studies show that seniors who regularly participate in social interactions can retain their brain health. So keep connected with others. For those friends and family that live far away, correspondence by e-mail or social media or even writing letters can keep you connected. Don’t stay holed up in your house alone. This is not healthy for you on multiple levels including your brain.
- Keep Moving! A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, among seniors, “moderate physical activity is associated with a reduced incidence of cognitive impairment after 2 years.” Simply taking a walk or doing chair exercise is a great way to get that heart pumping and keep the blood flowing to the brain.
- Lay Your Cards on the Table Playing games with others is another way to maintain and increase brain health. Regularly playing board or card games, or engaging in other intellectually stimulating games with others helps keep your mind active.
The vitality of your brain is the superhighway to your overall health. There are also many brain healthy foods that physicians recommend. Check out the following list from healthable.org for a list of Foods to Keep Your Brain Fit!
For information on one of our properties visit http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com
I can still see her face and hear her laugh. She was the first social director I knew at an assisted living. Was she on the staff? Oh no! She was a sharp dressed lady named Geraldine with an even sharper wit. Affectionately known to her family as “Gigi” she was one of the first ladies who taught me that residents in an assisted living have lots of living left to do. Ms. Geraldine would keep me apprised as to the latest “goings on” with the royals. Gigi loved Will and Kate and a good game of Skip Bo. She and the other ladies that made up her Skip Bo group were the first group I affectionately referred to as my sorority rush committee. Ms. Geraldine would be the first to tell you…life in assisted living is not about bingo and bedtime. It is much more and can be so fulfilling. She spent her golden years of life loving her family and her friends and living each day to its fullest. So, if you are looking at assisted living for yourself or a loved one…what are the benefits of the social aspects?
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found evidence that “elderly people in the U.S. who have an active social life may have a slower rate of memory decline. In fact, memory decline among the most sociable was less than half the rate among the least sociable. Senior author Lisa Berkman, chair of the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, went on to say, “We know from previous studies that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. We now have mounting evidence that strong social networks can help to prevent declines in memory. As our society ages and has more and more older people, it will be important to promote their engagement in social and community life to maintain their well-being.”
Studies show that lack of socialization is linked to negative impacts on health and well-being, especially for older people. Having a variety of social opportunities and activities vastly improve the psychological and physical health of seniors. The benefits include reducing stress, increasing physical health, and defeating psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.
Assisted living promotes socialization with everything from a robust activities calendar to dining together in a community setting. Engaging in activities and other community events allows seniors to bond with new friends while promoting physical and mental health. This can prolong their quality of life and overall life expectancy. Does this sounds like something that would benefit your elderly loved one and you want to know more? Check out our latest Activities Calendar to see what is going on at one of our communities near you at www.greatoaksmanagement.com or call us today at 1-888-258-8082.
*In memory of former resident Geraldine Reilly.
Thank you to her family for allowing us to share this in her memory.