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.
According to a recent article by Good Housekeeping, living longer life may have something to do with Assisted Living Communities! The article states, “Beyond inviting our older relatives and friends into our homes, it’s important to encourage elderly relationships — which is why, despite popular belief, older folks tend to thrive in independent or assisted living environments. These living arrangements provide more ways to mingle, to connect, to thrive.”
This holds true for Mrs. Carrie Miller. Mrs. Miller celebrated her 103rd birthday this past December. As we sat down to talk with her we learned a little bit about her Southern charm and grace. Mrs. Miller is from Georgia and moved to the Gardens of Clanton in 2010. She grew up with five siblings, one of which was her twin brother named Jay. She has made a wonderful life and has been blessed with 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
A former homemaker, she enjoys going to parties and her favorite holiday is Christmas. She is quite the fashionista and when she was ready to greet us, she showed us several of her outfit choices before selecting the perfect one that was one of “her” colors. She looked quite lovely of course. She has always been a social butterfly and when asked what makes her happy she said it was her children, family, friends AND…listening to the Chosen Two singers that share music at the Gardens of Clanton. She loves life and hearing a message in song. She shared that her favorite part about living at the Gardens is having wonderful help always there for her and having friends to talk to. So blessed to have her charm and grace. Grateful that her life has been enriched by her time at the Gardens of Clanton.
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 think that the hardest part of being a caregiver is dealing with the guilt. There is never enough time in the day. You bought the wrong kind of soap, stamps or razors or whatever it is…you just can’t catch a break. I think that life in general can sometimes be structured to wear us down. We think we are so smart being so connected and so able to communicate and work and multi-task. Sometimes we just need to stop, push back and say…no. I am the world’s WORST at this. I don’t want to let anyone down. In my mind…my goal is to help everyone. But if I (or you) don’t take time to rest then how can we be good for anyone? So here are some tips to de-program and reduce caregiver stress.
- Ask for help. You know the help you have been providing. But write down what that help entails. No one person can do it alone. It may even be time to consider the move to an assisted living. Asking for help doesn’t mean you don’t care or that you are not going to be part of the team. It just means you care enough to reach out.
- Realize your limitations. It’s impossible to be all things to all people. Sometimes our mindset that “only we can provide the help” is actually damaging for our loved ones. You may be thinking that you are helping someone by enabling them to stay alone…when in actuality they may do better in a community setting and your “help” may be depriving them of a better situation. Meanwhile it may also be running you ragged!
- Take time for you. If you think that only taking your loved ones to their doctor visits and cancelling your checkups is going to serve you well…think again. You need time to recharge your batteries and make sure that you are healthy both mentally and physically. Many caregivers suffer serious health issues while taking care of others. Be sure to take care of you!
- Talk it out. Phone a friend.. Have dinner with your spouse or seek the counsel of a peer going through the same situation. You can even find support groups for caregivers. Your stress is not in your head! Not to mention that it is not good to keep it all inside. Having a friendly chat can prove therapeutic and can also be a way to give and get advice for those sharing similar experiences.
Someone recently asked me was the face of assisted living changing? Well I wasn’t really sure how to answer that question. I guess mainly because the faces or the people that I know within our communities are all so very different. They are different on many varied levels. Now while they all have to meet the requirements for eligibility…that still doesn’t look like one particular demographic. So if you have in your mind what assisted living looks like…let’s try this on for size. This may not be the case for all residents. But this is a more commonplace that many realize.
It is very typical for our residents within our communities to be very vibrant contributing members of society. We have folks that do charity work, volunteer to read at local schools and even pink ladies at the local hospital. I have one lady that I swear travels more during the week than I do. She has plenty of living left to do and she enjoys every minute of it. I heard her tell a friend once, “I know I don’t have to live in assisted living, but for me it is a comfort to know that someone is always there for me if I need them no matter what. She went on to say that since her husband passed away a few years back, she feels that being in our community allows her the freedom to keep going while not becoming a burden on anyone else. It is so amazing to see lives so full and abundant. Assisted living communities provide so much more than assistance with the activities of daily life. What we are able to do in most cases is make sure that the jobs of cooking, cleaning and keeping up with laundry and other tasks are handled so that seniors can focus on the truly important things in life.
So while we certainly pride ourselves in offering as much assistance as we can provide our residents, you may see that your view of what assisted living looks like may be changing for you. We encourage our potential residents and families to not wait. Keeping medications and nutrition scheduled and balanced is such a benefit that we can oversee. The assisted living model may be exactly what you need to keep you on pace with your lifestyle. Want to find out more? Give us a call today. We would love for you to join us for lunch and take a tour. Have your own opportunity to try us on for size.
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.