A True Merry Maker

For most centenarians, long life is a precious gift and not a burden. At 103 years old, Sue Clark remembers most everything from her life – names of old friends, growing up IMG_0676on a farm in Giles County, Tennessee, details of her husband’s transfer to Redstone Arsenal, receiving a teaching degree from Martin College, enjoying a good golf game, and memories of watching her students grow. The Limestone Manor resident and retired kindergarten teacher has remained happy and healthy by staying busy (and motivating others to join the fun). She recently celebrated her birthday on March 3 with neighbors, friends, family and the mayor!

IMG_0675 copyListening to Sue Clark share fun memories was fascinating. After moving to Athens, Mrs. Clark started a home kindergarten in 1963 that helped mold and shape many a student.  She created the foundation for students to use their imaginations and grow their intellect. With a twinkle in her eye, she talked about her 20 year career in teaching and the various activities she did to make learning fun.  Her stories included everything from building a playhouse in the backyard to train-rides, to “Hobo Hikes” and eating a sack lunch in an open field. It was obvious that she loved children and motivating them was her biggest reward. You could tell that Mrs. Clark was having fun too!

Another thing that she enjoyed was music and being involved in church. Mrs. Clark was part of a singing group, The Merry Makers.  After closing her kindergarten, she told a friend…”I have all of these band instruments left over from teaching, what can we do with them?”  They organized a group that performed around town. The Merry Makers and their entertainment is what originally brought her to Limestone Manor Assisted Living, where Mrs. Clark now resides.

IMG_0680Sue Clark first visited the senior community singing and spreading cheer to everyone.  As a resident, she now enjoys the varied activities and especially the music that Limestone Manor has to offer.  But truth be told she still loves to tell stories.  These she now shares with the other residents, staff, family, friends and many visitors at the Manor.  Her walls beautifully display a lifetime of memories.  But the true beauty of the trip down memory lane…comes straight from the source.

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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.

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.

caregiver-timeout

 

The Heart of the Matter

For most, knowledge is power.  If you know the risks you should be able to avoid the consequences.  That is the exact premise behind February being designated National Heart Month.  American Heart Month, a federally designated event, is a great way to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends, and communities involved.

Did you know according to the American Heart Association?

  • heart-stethThe first American Heart Month, which took place in February 1964, was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson via Proclamation 3566 on December 30, 1963.
  • The Congress, by joint resolution on that date, has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating February as American Heart Month.
  • At that time, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease.
  • While American Heart Month is a federally designated month in the United States, it’s important to realize that cardiovascular disease knows no borders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.3 million deaths each year.
  • That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

The Center for Disease Control reports that even though heart disease is still the leading cause of death for Americans, the rate of seniors hospitalized because of heart disease has decreased almost 50%, which indicates that nationwide education and prevention efforts are paying dividends.  Assisted living communities are a great asset for those looking to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Menus approved by dieticians
  • Exercise programs to keep you moving
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring and Medication Management

Below is the graphic put out to encourage seniors to stay active for heart health.  For more information check out the link to the American Heart Association.  For more information about our communities check out:  http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

aha-senior

 

Putting on the Brakes

I remember the day I drove by myself for one of the first times. I remember in vivid detail driving to my grandparents’ house that day in Shorterville, Alabama. To ensure I drove safely…my parents sent my little brother to tag along. I had another friend in tow and after the three of us enjoyed my grandmother’s fried chicken and fixin’s on a Sunday afternoon we were soon on our way. A couple things I would have done differently given that opportunity again today. One I would have stayed longer. As an adult now with my grandparents both passed away for over nearly 20 years, I realize the importance of slowing down. The other thing I would have done differently is listened to my granddaddy when he said to “drive safely” as I waved bye and honked the horn. Had I listened, I probably would have avoided the little fender bender I had on the way home. It only took one little scare and I was convinced safety had to come first when I got behind the wheel. Driving at any age seems to some like having the keys to independence. But in many cases just having those keys doesn’t mean we SHOULD drive. Having this discussion is difficult no matter if you are discussing it with your teenage child or your aging parents. Many adult children are faced with the role reversal task of talking to their elderly parent about whether it’s time to put the car in park.

So, when do you know when it’s becoming time to talk to your aging loved one about putting on the brakes? According to the AARP, here are some of the warning signs that indicate a person should begin to limit or stop driving.

1. Almost crashing, with frequentred-light-stop “close calls”

2. Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.

3. Getting lost, especially in familiar locations

4. Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings

5. Responding more slowly to unexpected situations, or having trouble moving their foot from the gas to the brake pedal; confusing the two pedals

 
pexels-photo-68624If you find these troubling issues are the case for your loved one and you don’t see any possibility for improvement, then it may be time to have the tough discussion about letting others do the driving. AARP also has a great resource in the “We Need to Talk” program, developed by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab that according to their site, “helps drivers and their loved ones to recognize warning signs. It also helps families initiate productive and caring conversations with older adults about driving safety.”

Age alone is not a predictor for poor driving skills. It is important to remember that medications, cognitive issues or physical limitations can impair driving ability. These factors must be considered for driver safety. Finally, if you drive with an aging parent or loved one and have concerns, don’t wait to initiate your concerns about whether it might be time to stop driving. Be an advocate for their safety and the safety of others. For more information on things to watch for if you have driving concerns see the Caring.com Checklist: 8 Ways to Assess Someone’s Driving. If you think they are a good candidate for assisted living please visit our website at http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com. Our properties offer transportation to appointments and for other outings.

Call today to get more information 1-888-258-8082.

Shifting Gears to the New Year

After all the fun and festivities that the holidays bring, it is commonplace for most to begin thinking of making changes to begin a new year.  New Year Resolutions are a good thing for folks of all ages.  Making resolutions regardless of our age, creates a sense of purpose for all of us.  It helps us to focus on the things that are the most important.  Seniors can especially benefit from this if resolutions are made to prevent illness and injury. Making resolutions such as participating in a new physical activity, developing a new exercise routine, or eating better are all good goals for seniors.  But what is the best way to do this and succeed?

Write it Down

Writing down your resolution is only half the battle!  Chart it and not only seniorwriting-052313-vr-tifdocument your defeats, but celebrate your victories!  According to a study by the University of Scranton research shows that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  Writing it down puts it in black and white and gives a sense of accountability.  Trying to lose weight or exercise more?  Writing it down or having someone chart it for you will help you track your success.

Keep it Simple

Now most of us have heard of the KISS system.  You know, Keep It Simple Stupid!  Now while this may sound ridiculous, it is rather ingenious.  If you have a simple and small goal that you want to achieve….and you have written it down…well, then it is more likely to stick with you!  According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, “it’s more sensible to set simple small attainable goals, rather than a singular overwhelming goal”.  A resolution to lose weight is a bit more daunting than to just cut out soft drinks.  It’s less restrictive and much more clear cut.  So, pick something small to change and work on that.

Give Yourself a BreakSenior couple having fun in park

If you do have a slip up, don’t give up!  Remember that you are only human.  Have you been dieting and feel like you could eat your weight in chocolate??  Well…don’t do that and try to A-V-O-I-D feeling deprived.  Eat a small piece of chocolate.  Have a cheat day.  Are you trying to exercise more?  Start slowly.  Don’t feel like you must exercise every day if this is new to you.  Maybe your target is walking two or three times a week to start with.
Set yourself up for success and keep your goals realistic.

By taking small steps, making your goals clear and realistic you stand a better chance of making 2017 your best year yet.  You also want to check with your physician first before making any changes to your diet and exercise plan.  If you feel like Assisted Living is a goal for you or a loved one this year, reach out to us today.  Our staff is trained to help our residents with the activities of their daily life.  We would love to welcome you home to a Great Oaks Management Property in 2017.

Letters to Santa

Have you written your letter to Santa Claus?  What about the children in your life?  For my first blog post of December I was asked to share a special letter written by one of my sweet residents.  In it, she captures the essence of Christmas and offers a glimpse back into days gone by.  So grab a cup of hot cocoa and settle into an easy chair and enjoy this precious letter to Saint Nick!  This may just become another one of my holiday traditions.

Dear Santa,

Who are you? Why do you always show up at Christmas celebrations?  We don’t see much of you any other time.

As a child, I saw you as the maker of every kind of wonderful toy in the world.  Creations from baby dolls and teddy bears, to roller skates, scooters, bicycles and balls of every shape and size.

You kept a complete list on every child reminding you of our every deed, both good and bad.  Nothing could make me angry faster than those “smart aleck” kids who claimed you did not exist.

At our house we started a “wish list” early… teaching us not to expect instant gratification, which in some instances allowed us to change our minds!  When the winter nights were getting longer we found ourselves glancing out the window if we saw any movement or strange light.  We knew it was Santa watching us, making sure we were doing as we should.

We got many gifts, but there were always a few things we didn’t find in our stocking or under the tree. This made us wonder if it was because of something we had done wrong, or if you simply ran out before you got to our house.

It took years and a family of my own for me to realize who you really are and why you were created.

The cookies and milk which have kept you “rotund” all these years taught us to show appreciation to those who gave to us.  As children we set them out just before bedtime as our thank you for what we were expecting to receive.  Parents were able to help us develop our imaginations and enjoy “make believe”. They could show surprise and help us enjoy some of the new toys and games.

Most of us, through the little birthday parties we would attend, soon realized that we bring gifts so that other kids will bring gifts to our party, if we bring one to theirs.  That’s the way the big world works.

Jesus’s birthday is so much different.  Jesus’s birth taught us that it is more blessed to give than to receive!

In man’s way of trying to figure out how to accomplish this idea of giving, someone came up with a jolly, round fellow dressed in a red suit trimmed in white fur.  He has been given several names including St. Nicholas, Father Christmas and finally Santa Claus. This is the name we have given the “Christmas Spirit”.  It’s much more exciting than just calling it a gift from an unknown source.

WE all get the joy when we finally recognize who Santa is and God gets all the glory!  I like to think that the idea of Santa always giving gifts without the expectation of a gift in return…is in a small way the essence of Jesus.  Isn’t that why we celebrate Christmas…to give God the glory!  This is my point of view as a great-grandmother looking up from my rocking chair.

Thank you for sharing your love and our joy!

Marguerite Klages

klages-and-santa

 

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

 

Healthy Aging: What can I control?

As we look to the future and think about getting older, one of the common concerns is that we all want to be healthy as we enter our senior years.  Some of us come from a long line of ancestors who live a long time and have very few health problems.  Others have ancestors who tend to have chronic health issues and while they live a long time, are challenged with maintaining good health later in life.  What can I do if I didn’t hit the genetic lottery?  How can I take action today to improve my chances of being healthy and active as I age?

Take a good look at the lifestyles of your ancestors.  Some of us think we inherited a strong history of heart disease, but when we look closely we see a strong history of lifestyle behaviors that contributed to the heart disease like smoking, obesity, and an inactive life style.  Lifestyle is a big factor in accounting for our likelihood of having chronic health issues as we get older.  Taking some basic steps today can help you overcome some of your genetic history.  Below is a list of ideas to help you control what you can to increase your chances for an active healthy life as you age:

  1. Don’t smoke, if you do smoke, quit.
  2. Exercise, even walking 3 or more times per week helps improve y our overall health.
  3. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Drink water; try to limit sodas and soft drinks.
  5. If you drink, do so in moderation.
  6. Stay active and engaged with friends, social support helps our mental health.
  7. Keep your mind active and challenged. Read, do puzzles, take up a new hobby, play cards or games.

While we can’t change our genetic makeup, how we live our lives can have a big impact on how we age and whether we develop chronic diseases.  Get busy and take control of your future!

For more information, visit GreatOaksManagement.com!

I’m Afraid My Parents Are Forgetting To Take Their Medications

As our parents age, we often become concerned that they aren’t able to manage simple things, like remembering to take their medications.  Sometimes remembering to take medications is especially hard if our loved one has chronic health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure and takes several medications each day.  What can we do when we are concerned that our parents are forgetting to take their medications?

An easy first step is a trip to the physician to make sure that the medications our parents have are the ones they need to take.  When going with our parents to see their physician, be sure to take all the medications in their original prescription container for review by the physician.  Ask the physician if all the medications are necessary and also if it’s possible to schedule them to be taken no more than twice per day.  Simplifying how many times each day medications have to be taken will help streamline the process.

After the medications are reviewed and streamlined as much as possible, invest in a medication organizer.  These are inexpensive and available at most drug stores.  Fill the organizer with the medications for the appropriate time of day and familiarize your parents with how to use them.  Using the organizer shows at a glance whether medications have been taken and make keeping up with the correct dose much easier.  When looking for an organizer, make sure to obtain one that your parents can easily open and close and make sure that the dose times correspond to the dose times on the prescriptions.  For the first few days using the organizer, a reminder phone call may also be helpful.

If medication organizers, phone call reminders and other steps have failed, it may be time to consider an assisted living community.  Assisted living communities’ help individuals remember to take their medications at the time and correct dose ordered by their physician.  They also monitor individuals for any problems with medications and notify the physician and family if there is a problem.  This is especially important if the individual has chronic health problems.

 

For more information, visit GreatOaksManagement.com!