Fun For All Ages

Now that I feel like I have caught my breath after National Assisted Living Week, I want to share something that I have known about for quite some time.  As a matter of a fact, I benefitted from it as a child myself.  See…as a little girl, my Mom would take me with her to work.  My Mom has always been a pro at styling hair and in my younger years, this was her profession.  As a beautician, she would do hair for her regular customers, but she also did hair at the local nursing home and assisted living.  Now in my single digit years, my trade was singing and tap dancing.  This proved to be quite the asset to my mom with her scissors, perm rods and hairspray.  She would always plan for me and some of my other performing arts sisters to put on a show for the older folks.  I loved every opportunity to perform (and to talk) so I was game.  Little did I know then, but these residents were as happy to see me as I was to see them.  I remember the performances of course.  But I also remember eating gingerbread cookies, looking at pictures and having a captive audience to whatever I wanted to talk about.  I also remember the stories.  At almost 42 years of age, I still remember Hazel.  Mrs. Hazel was my friend.  She always wanted me to sing and tap dance for her.  Mrs. Hazel didn’t have grandchildren of her own and it was her delight to have our little visits.  But it was something I enjoyed very much as well.  I think it was this type of friendship in my formative years that led me to where I am today.  I may not be tap dancing anymore…well, come to think of it…maybe I do.  I am an Assisted Living Administrator, so technically I sing and tap dance for seniors on a regular basis.  Just to whatever tune they are requesting I suppose. 😉 But it is a joy.  A joy that started a very long time ago for me.  I witnessed the most beautiful visits this past week from a class of preschoolers with our residents at the Gardens.  It was wide open, head back laughing FUN!  Literally fun for all ages.  The new rage is intergenerational involvement.  But the concept is not new at all.  Studies have shown that these type of interactions prove beneficial for both sets of people…young and old.  Below are the benefits for seniors and children according to legacyproject.org.

Senior Benefits:

  • Active, involved older adults with close intergenerational connections consistently report much less depression, better physical health, and higher degrees of life satisfaction. They tend to be happier with their present life and more hopeful for the future.
  • Young and old can fulfill the role of student and teacher for each other, and it’s not always the older person who does the teaching. Children like to feel needed, and they can teach elders lots of things – like how to find some pretty cool stuff on the Internet! Children can also help older people, particularly those facing health challenges or other losses, see the world anew again, through a child’s eyes.

Benefits for Children

  • In general, children develop higher self-esteem, better emotional and social skills (including an ability to withstand peer pressure), and can even have better grades in school.
  • Through sharing in an older adult’s interests, skills, and hobbies, children are introduced to new activities and ideas. Through their life experience, older adults can often bring with them a tremendous amount of patience. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes children pick up from elders tend to stick with them through life more than those picked up from other sources.

 

As a product of this type of intergenerational impact, I can tell you that you are missing out if don’t find your own Mrs. Hazel.  I also now see this type of influence through the eyes of my residents and for them as well, it is a beautiful thing.  Thank you to those precious children that shared bubbles and ice cream with your new friends at the Gardens last week.  We look forward to seeing you again real soon!

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*Photograph from my personal archives circa the early 80s.  I’m the brunette in the front.  No, I’m not a natural blonde. 😉

 

 

 

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The Greatest Gift

Have you ever considered working or volunteering with seniors? One of the greatest joys that an individual can experience is to be able to enjoy the work that they do. Working in assisted living, is not a career it is a calling. One of the first things that I tell potential employees in the interview process is that if you don’t feel that you have the capacity to truly care about the folks that live in our communities…then this is probably not the career for you. In this setting we get to help the residents that live in our communities, but many times we receive more of a blessing from them, than we could possibly ever give. As we approach National Assisted Living Week, I have had many different people from many different walks of life ask what they can do that the residents would enjoy. While there are multiple ways or even multiple things that I have seen bring joy to the faces of residents through the years…there is one that stands out as having the most impact. It is time. Here is a short list of things that you can do that can make someone’s day in an assisted living community.

Share your talents! If you sing, dance, play guitar or whatever gift you have plan a day to come and share with our seniors.

Take time to play! Do you love dominoes? Are you a whiz at Skip Bo? Are you great at calling Bingo? Stop in and spend some time playing games with a group. It will be good for you and them too?

Are you a chatterbox? Even the gift of gab is appreciated. Be prepared to listen too! Our folks love to talk and share.

***Here are some additional ideas that I really like from sharethegood.org

Uncover THEIR skills: If you don’t already know the kind of career your friend had, find out! Ask questions about their biggest lessons or favorite moments. Don’t forget to ask them about their skills and hobbies outside the job, too—sewing, woodworking, writing. Request that they teach you a thing or two.

Log the memories: Bring along a photo album, scrapbook or journal on your visit, and encourage your friend to sit and compile their memories with you. Use narrative, photos, captions, doodles and more. You’ll be turning their oral stories into a documented history book in no time!

Make some artwork: Turn select pages of your memory book into wall art for their room. Simply photocopy the best pages with photos and captions, then hang them up so your friend can continuously recall good times. Plus, colorful photos are sure to brighten any room.

It truly is the time that is given in each of these opportunities that is appreciated the most. Look for ways that you can volunteer and stop by and see us. You can coordinate your visit with your local community administrator. They may have other ideas that can make your visit a success as well. If you are looking for employment opportunities, check out our individual community pages. You can see current openings and get other information by clicking on the career section of the websites.

http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

All in the Family

We are right around the corner from National Assisted Living Week.  Every year this tradition is a very special time for our residents, staff, families and our entire community.  As we busy ourselves with plans and preparation to make this event a success, I wanted to stop and reflect on why this year’s theme means so much to me personally.

 

I started working in assisted living in 2010.  I am truly amazed how quickly time has passed.  Through these last years, I have met some truly amazing people.  I have laughed and I have cried.  I have learned about others and I have learned about myself.  Rick Warren once said, “while it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experience of others.”  The people that live and work and volunteer in our communities are true blessings.  I have learned many life lessons from so many of these wonderful people.  The wisdom that the residents share is invaluable.  The families of our residents are treasures as well.

 

National Assisted Living Week will be the week of September 10th through the 16th and the theme this year is “Family is Forever”. This year’s theme is inspired by a quote from the poet Maya Angelou: “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

 

I feel this theme truly represents what I see on a daily basis.  It’s in the encouragement of a staff member, the smile of a volunteer or the laughter of a resident.  The people that you will find here truly are family.  Find out more about our communities at the links listed below.  Schedule a tour at one of our properties today.  Find out why we believe Family is Forever!

 

There Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

Prior to working in Assisted Living, I was of the mindset that most people in their golden years just sit around crocheting and rocking in chairs.  While both of these activities are wonderful in their own right…I have come to find that this is not even close to the way that senior citizens pass the time.  Quite the contrary, I have found that many members of our communities have yet to slow down.  Their vigor and zest for life is inspiring to those around them.

Take for example one of our precious ladies that currently moved to our property from Florida.  She has the sweetest smile and loves to sew.  But she’s not just your typical lady that can thread a needle a run a stitch or two.  No, this philanthropy driven woman makes blankets practically every day for the organization Project Linus.  The organization’s mission is to “provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer blanketeers.”  Such an amazing inspiration to see individuals using their talents for the greater good and not letting age be a barrier or an excuse.

This giving attitude is what set the tone for our communities as we decided how we wanted to celebrate National Assisted Living Week 2016.  So many churches, clubs and individuals donate their time and energies to our residents throughout the year.  So when asked what they wanted to do for National Assisted Living Week…many residents stated that they wanted to give back!  So as you peruse our Facebook pages, checkout our residents reading to local school children or having lunches with our First Responders.  Let their dynamic attitudes and giving spirits be an encouragement and inspiration for us all.

Check out www.projectlinus.org

 

Connections that Last a Lifetime!

As we bid goodbye to Labor Day and all things summer this past Monday, I had one of those moments that made me stop and smile.  Most of us know that Labor Day was created to honor the working folks.  Per Wikipedia it honors “the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to strength, prosperity, and well-being of country”.  It was this frame of mind that triggered my memory of a National Assisted Living Week we celebrated at my community two years ago.  We had our (now traditional) election of our King and Queen that were crowned by our local hometown beauty queens followed by a declaration from our Mayor.  As the Mayor stood up to give the speech that was to proclaim that week National Assisted Living Week, he stopped and thanked each resident for their contribution to our hometown or in some cases the hometowns the individual moved from to our area.

He thanked them for their hard work and sacrifice that they made in helping make our country strong.   He thanked the workers, the mothers, the Veterans…he included everyone.  As I looked around the room, I saw many eyes with tears in them.  My heart was bursting with pride for the contribution that these wonderful residents had made in their lifetimes.  It reminded me how blessed I am to be able to serve each one in my occupation.  Not a year goes by that this Mayor hasn’t taken the time to thank the residents for all they have done.  So as National Assisted Living Week approaches with the theme of “Keep Connected” don’t miss your opportunity to give thanks to this very important generation.  As the National Center for Assisted Living states as part of their campaign for 2016, “Keep Connected is about more than technology.”  I believe it’s a way that each of us can connect face to face and these are the kinds of connections that can last a lifetime.

Keep Connected-Highlighting National Assisted Living Week 2016

Naturally we all want to keep connected with our loved ones.  That is one way we stay rooted in who we are and where we came from.  This year the theme for National Assisted Living Week 2016 is Keep Connected.  I think the original context that they planned the theme to represent was to explain how exciting it is to see our senior communities making such great use of the new technologies that are available to be connected on multiple levels.  But being connected to an Assisted Living community can be that…and so much more!

Social Media and Beyond            

I have had multiple family members of residents in our communities tell me how wonderful it is to see their loved ones smiling faces on social media.  Some of these family members live across the country and it means so much to them to see their loved one engaged in an activity with a smile on their face.  While it is important to remember that communities must follow certain protocols when taking and posting photographs including permission forms, etc.  It still can be a wonderful resource of CONNECTION!  I had to laugh recently when I had a resident ask me, “How many likes did my picture get on the computer?”  I seriously almost fell out of my chair when he told me that he thought his picture might blow up Facebook!  The “senior set” really like the idea of their picture reaching out to their loved ones and are thrilled when I share with them the comments they receive on the posts from friends and family near and far.

Direct Connect

Another wonderful thing about working in this industry is that you have wonderful volunteers and people that want to show love to those that live in our communities.  I am constantly asked “what can we do” or “what can we bring” that the residents’ might like?  So with National Assisted Living Week right around the corner…here are some suggestions for you to KEEP CONNECTED.

Food items are always nice.  Everyone loves a treat right??  But remember that there will be folks in the communities that may be diabetics so if possible, bring a sugar free option.  Fruit is always an easy choice.  If you have a group or club that wants to do something, consider coming onsite to do a project WITH the residents.  We have seen everything from sewing clubs, dominoes and Skip-Bo card groups to painting door hangers.  A popular activity that residents typically love is changing out seasonal flowers in containers outside the building.  Sure some may want to just observe.  But trust me…you will probably have some that will want to get their hands dirty with you.

The best way to connect is by giving the thing that doesn’t cost a dime…TIME!  Sharing a cup of coffee or talking and traveling down memory lane is a fabulous way to connect with the folks in a community.  Never underestimate the value of sharing a laugh.  Taking the time to share and listen to memories will result in the CONNECTION and creation of your own.

Nurturing the Mind

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How do we keep our minds sharp as we age?  This question is one of importance to senior adults and the loss of memory or ability to function is often one of the greatest fears of adults as they get older.

Research has long shown that there are things we can do to help keep our memory sharp.  Games, Sudoku, and puzzles are great ways to help nurture our minds. A good game of Bridge or Rook is a challenge at any age and if you drop in any assisted living community, you will likely find a good card game in progress.  Trivia games, especially those about both recent events and events from our early adulthood help us keep our brains active. Good old fashioned competition is a routine event in our communities.  Think we’re kidding?  Just try to interrupt one of our regular Bingo or Scrabble games.  You will quickly see what we mean.

As important as games and cards, social interaction is another important way to nurture the mind. Engaging with friends and neighbors keeps us on our toes and helps keep our memory sharp.  Assisted Living communities promote these activities and many more.  Drop into one of our communities this week, you may just be invited to pull up a chair and play a hand.

Nurturing the Body

As we get older it is even more important to nurture our bodies.  How do we do that when we have aches and pains?  We can’t run a marathon, but how to we preserve our level of functioning and even improve how we feel as we age?  Assisted Living communities offer lots of activities to help residents nurture their bodies.  Daily exercise classes, Yoga, Walking groups, are just some of the fun activities that get folks up and moving.  It’s always easier to exercise with a friend or neighbor.  Assisted Living communities offer activities for groups on a daily basis and can tailor activities to an individual resident’s preference.

Love dancing?  We all remember our first dance, the excitement, getting dressed up, burning up the dance floor.  In celebration of National Assisted Living week, Great Oaks Management will be inviting our residents to take a walk down memory lane to the soda shop for a milkshake and some fun music from a time gone by.  Drop by one of our communities this week, you just might find yourself ‘cutting a rug!

Nourishing the Spirit

Nothing beats becoming a Grandparent.  Talk to any Grandparent and they will tell you that the day they became a grandparent was incredibly special.  While we all see the love and affection that Grandparents have for their grandchildren and the special bond they share, few of us understand how that bond can nourish the Spirit of grandchildren and other family members.

Grandparents are a reminder of where we came from.  In the South, it is very common on meeting a new person to have them ask “who are your people”?  Grandparents are that link to our heritage and the past of our family.  They are a rich source of not only family history, but can help us understand where we came from, not only as a family, but as a culture.  Sitting with a Senior Adult and asking them about historic events can be a real eye opener.  They have often had a ring side seat at some of the most historic moments and listening can give us a new perspective on the past. Grandparents also shape our future.  That unconditional love and support nurtures our belief in ourselves and strengthens our Spirit.

Spirit is the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy and power.  While Grandparents nurture the spirit of a family, Assisted Living Communities nurture the spirit of the senor adults who call them home.  Our communities give support and encouragement to our members, we help them believe in themselves and their future.  We provide a sense of family and connection which helps our members live active, happy lives.

“Nourishing Life: Mind, Body and Spirit”

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September 13-19, 2015 is National Assisted Living Week.  Across the United States, hundreds of assisted living communities will come together this week to celebrate with a variety of events to celebrate the role of assisted living communities in the lives of Senior Adults.  The theme for this year’s events is “Nourishing Life: Mind, Body and Spirit”.  The focus of activities this year is to demonstrate how assisted living communities nourish the lives of the senior adults who call them home.

At Great Oaks Management, several activities will bring families, friends, volunteers, staff and our senior adults together to celebrate.  Sunday, September 13th is National Grandparents Day and each of our communities will celebrate with a Grandparents Day Brunch.  Grandparents nourish the Spirit of their grandchildren and family.  Join our communities on Sunday to share the Spirit of Grandparents.

On Wednesday, September 16th, Great Oaks Management communities will take a mid-week break to celebrate how our communities nourish the body of our residents with a Milkshake Social.  Come join in the fun as we “shake things up” and share a flavorful milkshake and a little dance music with our residents.

Finally on Friday, September 18th, we will wrap up with week with a Family Game Night at our communities. Social interaction is fun, but it also helps build strong brains and nourishes the mind of our residents and supports our families.  Come join in the fun and “tease your brain” with a night of family fun at our communities.

Assisted Living Communities are places where senior adults grow and flourish in a safe and nurturing atmosphere.  Drop in one of our communities this week and see what all the excitement is about.