Family is Forever

The past two weeks we have been collecting pictures of our residents to do a game of “Guess Who” as a part of our National Assisted Living Week celebrations.  It has been such a joy for families and residents to share their pictures from “way back when”.  It has caused me to pause and reflect on life.  When our residents think of themselves, they may picture that younger self that served in the Army or was a homemaker or helped on the farm.  Their children may envision the Mom or Dad that helped shape their childhood and their memories of growing up.  To the staff at the communities that these folks live in now, we may see them differently.  But it is always wise to stop, look back and remember.  As we all age we may see ourselves in many different lights.  We grow and become many things to many people.  So have our residents.  As we celebrate National Assisted Living Week and the beauty that comes from this environment, I want us all to remember that each of us has a history and we impact so many different people.  The theme of National Assisted Living Week is Family is Forever.  I know for me over the last 8 times that I have celebrated this week that it has seen many different faces and many different memories.  I have helped crown many different Kings and Queens of the Gardens.  But I think that what I realize today that each year…my family has grown.  Sometimes it can be hard to let people into your life with the understanding that they may not be able to stay for long.  But as Garth Brooks once sang, “I could have missed the pain, but then I could have missed the dance.”  Thank you assisted living for what you have meant to me and my family.  I know my family has grown forever and my heart is much more full as a result.

 

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Peachy Keen

Today we are honoring Gardens of Clanton resident Lucille Mims.  Mrs. Lucille is 94 years old and thoroughly enjoys being a resident at our Clanton community.  Most folks when they think of Clanton, immediately think of peaches.  Clanton is famous for their delicious peaches and their water tower in the shape of a peach. August is National Peach Month and in honor of Mrs. Lucille Mims, the Gardens of Clanton and the delicious fruit…we are sharing a delicious recipe for Peach Cobbler. We hope you all enjoy this delicious taste of summer!

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Peach Cobbler Recipe

  • 8 fresh peaches – peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • MIX TOGETHER:
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
  5. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

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Pictured is Mrs. Mims and her loving granddaughter

Keep It Clean

There are many reasons that family members become concerned that an elderly loved one is not doing well.  One issue that is a cause for concern is bathing or rather the lack thereof.  A parent not bathing is a topic that many families are reluctant to discuss as they may be uncomfortable bringing it up. But be assured that this is an issue that many people face.  It is common…but there may be multiple root causes.  It is important to understand why they are reluctant.  Only when you understand that the underlying reasons can you better approach and address successfully.  Let’s look at some of the more common reasons.

 

  1. Fear of Falling

The bathroom can be a very dangerous place. If you have every slipped in the shower, you can relate. Now you pair the environment with physical issues like foot problems, balance issues, arthritis and more…and you have a recipe for disaster and fear.

 

  1. Depression

Often elderly have issues with depression that can zap their get up and go. When you lack motivation, bathing and concerns for your grooming often go by the wayside.

 

  1. Cognitive Issues

Another reason that is very common are memory issues. If your parent has dementia or other cognitive decline, keeping up with a bathing schedule can be extremely difficult.  Realizing that you haven’t taken a bath is not something they may be able to keep up with easily.

 

While it may be a difficult subject to approach, you must develop a plan. For some simply adding grab bars or safety equipment may help. Some may be able to follow a chart.  But if it is a depression or memory issue, it may be time to consider getting help.  As always discuss your concerns with a doctor.  A physician may want to consider medications to help with depression.  It may be time to enlist the help of a caregiver or look into an assisted living community where your loved one can have daily assistance with their activities of daily life like bathing and grooming.  But don’t avoid the topic because it is messy and uncomfortable.  The health benefits of cleanliness are far too important to ignore.

Just Breathe

Recently someone said to me that I seemed to always have it together.  Me?  Together?  Now that is funny!  Most days I feel like I am chasing my tail.  Did they know my day that morning started with dry shampoo??  But isn’t that life?   Most of us are convinced that everyone else always has it TOGETHER.  We envision everyone with cleaner houses, perfectly cooked dinners and flawless families.  In reality, we are all doing our best…to do our best.  One thing that will de-rail our “best” in a hurry is stress.  It is very common to hear from families of seniors dealing with “role reversal” that it is one of the most stressful tasks they have ever endured.  It’s one thing to raise and help our children…but when it comes to helping our parents…this is no easy task.  We don’t want to disrespect, but we also want to keep them safe.  Here are some tips to help you be proactive and avoid making situations frustrating for both you and your loved ones.

Don’t forget your Vitamin ZZZZZ

It sounds simple, but get your sleep!  According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. The Foundation advises: “When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior.”  Getting a good night sleep is important to your health and will help you be more effective in helping others and that includes your elderly parents.

Track Down a Paper Trail

According to AARP, an important part of getting things untangled for your elderly parents is organizing paperwork and documentation.  “The first thing to do is ask your parents where they store important papers. It may be in a file cabinet at home, or in a safety deposit box or with an attorney. You can’t get organized if you can’t find anything, so come up with a checklist to write down where everything is. Documents that should be assembled and accounted for include”:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • death certificate (for deceased spouse)
  • divorce papers
  • military records
  • driver’s license/organ donor card
  • passport/citizen papers
  • will
  • living will
  • durable power of attorney
  • health care power of attorney
  • trust
  • letter of instruction — with funeral arrangements, important contact information such as insurance agent or broker.
  • insurance policies (life, disability, long-term care)
  • information about safety deposit boxes (e.g., location, number, key)

 

Remember to Enjoy Each Other

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In this fast-paced world that we all get caught up in, it seems we can lose sight of the things that are important.  Yes, making sure that everyone is safe and sound is huge!  But Mom may also really enjoy sharing a cup of coffee with you.  Dad may want to talk about the weather.  Take time to enjoy the blessings each day.  These small moments together will become larger than life soon enough.  Make time to take time and as my Mom reminds me when I feel I’m at my wits end…just breathe.

If it is time to help Mom or Dad look at the option of Assisted Living please give us a call today.  We would love to have you and your loved one come have lunch with us and see all that our communities have to offer.

Get more information at www.greatoaksmanagement.com

Take it from the Senior Class

Ah yes…you can hear the commencement speeches filling the air.  It’s the time of year when young men and women close one chapter of their lives and start another.  So aside from the wisdom that they have gained from their educations up until this point…we thought it might be intriguing to get some advice from a generation that has already been there and done that.  Here is some advice to the Senior Class of 2017 from some of our assisted living seniors.

5 Life Lessons from our Assisted Living Senior Class

  1. Keep your mind open and don’t stress if you have to start at the bottom to work your way up.  You can do it!  Learn the value of hard work.
  1. Knowledge is power.  Continue your education because that is something that no one can take away from you.
  1. Wake up each day with an open mind and a full heart.  Everyone will not always have the same values as you.  Stay rooted to what you know while still showing kindness.
  1. Think before you speak. Run it through your head before it comes out of your mouth.
  1. Save your money.  You don’t have to have everything you want right now.

Good luck to the Class of 2017 from everyone at

Great Oaks Management and our communities.

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Pictured above is Great Oaks Management resident,

Sara Hamrick and her granddaughter Victoria.

Conversations with Betty

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.

 

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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.”

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Making Steps in the Right Direction

One of the highlights of the many varied activities that we have in our Assisted Living community has nothing to do with entertainment.  It does have everything to do with health and prevention.  When it comes to taking care of our feet, it is no small matter.  Yet many seniors lose the ability to safely trim their toenails or inspect their feet for other issues.  That is why the periodic visits from a podiatrist keep our residents feeling one step ahead!  Since the feet are closely tied to our overall health…here are some simple tips excerpted from GREAT FEET FOR LIFE: FOOTCARE AND FOOTWEAR FOR HEALTHY AGING by Paul Langer, DPM to keep your feet headed in the right direction.

loofahs-jpg-838x0_q67_crop-smartFoot Hygiene   The single most important thing one can do for foot health is good foot hygiene. This means washing the feet daily, wearing clean socks and caring for the skin and nails on a regular basis.

Skin Care  The skin of the feet must be resilient enough to withstand thousands of footsteps each day. Bathing the feet daily, applying moisturizing lotions to dry skin and managing calluses with lotions and a pumice stone helps our skin hold up to the demands of an active lifestyle. Never ignore rashes, painful calluses or skin that is red or tender as this can be a sign of infection. For those whose feet sweat excessively, foot powders and socks with less than 30% cotton are best for keeping the skin dry.

ca5c5fa4-12a5-404b-86bc-05c404b1a623Nail Care  Toenails tend to become thicker, discolored and more brittle as we age. This can make it more difficult to trim the nails and contribute to painful nail conditions such as ingrown nails or fungal nails. Nails should be trimmed straight across and rough edges or nail thickness should be reduced with a nail file.

Footwear   For those who are vulnerable to foot pain whether from arthritis, previous injuries or toe alignment issues such as bunions or hammertoes, it is imperative that you wear shoes that fit well, provide proper support and are not excessively worn. Poorly fitting shoes contribute to many of the most common causes of foot pain. Take the time to visit a reputable footwear retailer and spend the time necessary selecting a comfortable, supportive pair of shoes.fuzzy-socks

Falling Risk and Your Feet  Risk factors for falls include: poorly fitting shoes, shoes with elevated heel height, excessively worn shoes, sandals or shoes with an unsecured heel.

April is Foot Health Awareness Month.  So step up and make good choices for your foot health!  It will help keep you feeling footloose and fancy free!

Painting a Beautiful Life

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 Landscape Paintingbeautiful 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.

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Aunt Dimp’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

cakeI 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”

auntdimpDimple 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

Batter

6 eggs

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.

Filling

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.

 

 

 

The Not So Young and Stress Less

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.

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  • 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.

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