Much Love

During this month of love, I thought it a perfect time to discuss the most loved things about assisted living.  It has been interesting over the years for me to get the perspective not just from the families, but from the residents themselves on what was their favorite.  So here is the TOP THREE FAVES of Assisted Living Communities.

  1. Peace of Mind

There is something to be said for having someone there to look out for you, day or night.  It is also very reassuring to know that communities have emergency response systems.  Another very beneficial help is transportation assistance.  Some of our residents find that driving later in life becomes stressful. Having someone to take them safely to appointments is a huge help and comfort to them and their families.

  1. Enjoying Eating Again

Not only do you have someone there to cook three home-cooked meals a day, plus snacks….but eating with other members of the community makes the dining process so much more enjoyable.. Seeing new friendships form as residents fellowship around the table is a very gratifying part of my job.

  1. Handing Over the Housework

I don’t think I have EVER had one single resident that was sad to hand over the cooking, cleaning or the laundry.  It is a huge perk of moving into an assisted living! I laughed when my husband came to my community the first week I started.. His exact words were, “they do your laundry, cook your food and clean your room? I don’t get that at home!!”.  He’s a real comedian.

With so many things to love, it may be time to look into assisted living for your loved one.  These are just three of many reasons that our communities are loved by our residents.  Schedule a tour today and check out first hand what may be a perfect fit for you and yours.

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Challenges and Choices

As I have watched the latest rollout of promos for the Winter Olympic, a common theme is challenges.  It made me think about the challenges in the daily lives of our many residents.  Just as an athlete must push against all odds to achieve Olympic status, a senior must face challenges on a daily basis to overcome their own adversity.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Life expectancy is increasing for Americans. The fastest-growing segment of the population is the 85-and-older age group. Despite advances in health care, however, many elderly people have chronic, incurable progressive diseases and need assistance with the activities of daily living. The greatest challenge facing us as we age is the prevention of physical disability and the extension of “active life expectancy.” Fortunately, recent studies suggest that healthy (“successful”) aging is achievable, with sound planning for old age.”

SO SOUND PLANNING….LIKE WHAT???

It’s no secret that the biggest factor in overcoming the challenges that come with the aging processes includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  But even though:

eating right, exercising, watching your weight, avoiding tobacco products and limiting alcohol intake and seeing your doctor regularly seems like…gosh..shouldn’t that be enough??  It just isn’t.

Planning for success in aging must include stimulation of our social being as well financial planning, research and making your wishes known.  We can’t be certain of what MIGHT happen.  But if you address the issues early on, it can make the later much easier for you and your children.  Over the years I have comforted many an adult child of an elderly person, who was tasked with making difficult choices for their parent.  Choices that could have been decided and discussed.  Are the conversations difficult?  EXTREMELY.  No doubt, this conversation will not be comfortable.  But making sure your wishes and decisions are respected as best as possible will make those moments somewhat easier for your children to know they are honoring your choices

 

Rising to the Challenge of Successful Aging

Here is a list from the Cleveland Clinic to help you plan for the unknown challenges to come. 

Keep Yourself Stimulated:

Enjoy hobbies and interests with passion, particularly social activities, such as dancing.

Strengthen family relationships.

Engage in adult educational activities to challenge your mind.

Identify any physical limitations, such as difficulty walking or problems with balance. Actively start a discussion about these limitations and use medical resources to overcome them. Use nearby resources such as community support and local senior centers.

Be smart with financial planning:

Plan in advance for retirement.

Carefully manage investments and assets.

Assure adequate insurance coverage.

Decide on your future living arrangements.  (See reference at the end of the article.)

Work to Maintain Dignity and Good Health in Old Age:

Choose a doctor knowledgeable in the medical care of older adults.

Communicate your goals of care to your family and physician.

Check about long-term care insurance.

Express your advance directives in writing.

 

It is wise to look ahead into an assisted living community.  We would love to have you tour one of our communities today.  Visit www.greatoaksmanagement.com today to research one that is just right for you and your plan!

 

Tea Party Treat

Across the state at our communities we are making time for tea to celebrate!  We are planning these tea parties to toast our excellent communities and the residents, staff and families that make them so special.  In honor of this Tea Time, this week the blog will feature a recipe that is a must for your party menu.  Many thanks to Donna Burch the daughter of our resident Opal Newsome for sharing this delicious recipe with us.

STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD

2 C. pretzels, coarsely crushed                       ¾ c. melted butter or margarine

3 T. sugar (for crust)                                       1 (6-oz.) pkg. strawberry Jello

1 c. sugar                                                        2 (10-oz.) pkgs. Frozen strawberries

1 c. boiling water

1 (8-oz.) ctn. Cool Whip

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

 

Mix crushed pretzels, butter and sugar; press into bottom of a 9X13-inch pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.  Cool completely.  In another bowl beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended.  Stir in carton of Cool Whip.  Then spread onto cooled crust.  Dissolve Jello in 1 cup of bowling water.  Then stir in strawberries and let stand 10 minutes.  Pour this mixture on top of cream cheese mixture in pan.  Chill in refrigerator.  Makes about 12 servings.

Opal and family

Pictured are Mr. Charles Burch, our resident, Mrs. Opal Newsome and her daughter Mrs. Donna Burch

Making the Right Move

In the past 7 years, I have given MANY tours at our assisted living community.  I’ve even given tours at some of our sister communities.  I’ve read guides that industry pros have posted.  I’ve listened to feedback from residents, families, staff and upper-level management.  I’ve moved residents into our property from every setting you can imagine.  Now, it’s not that I think that I have all the answers.  That is laughable and would be impossible.  But how about I just offer you as Paul Harvey would say “the rest of the story” and give you my humble insights. I like working with lists of 3s.  So, here is a list of my top three suggestions for finding the assisted living community that is the right fit.

Suggestion Number One

Remember WHO is the Consumer

One of the most surprising things that I ever experienced in my senior living career was the opportunity to move a resident into our 16-bed community from a place that I swear resembled a resort at the beach.  It was, however, also an assisted living community.  As I drove onto the property I honestly mouthed the words…WOW.  Inside was the latest of color schemes and decor.  I honestly wanted to ask the lady at the desk in the lobby the name of the gray paint on the walls.  I loved it.  But my grandmother would have hated it.  I have residents that would have hated it.  And you guessed it…so did the resident that I moved out of this fancy pants place and into our community.  This huge place was also overwhelming to the resident.  The resident had vision issues and that typically doesn’t pair well with a monochromatic color scheme or a giant campus.  Bottom line…think of the loved one whom you are considering living in a community and be sure that you are shopping for them and not YOU.

Suggestion Number Two

Meet and Greet

It didn’t take me long to realize when I started working with senior adults exactly who was in charge and it was NOT me.  Now naturally, I make sure that we are being regulatory compliant and we don’t do anything that is unsafe.  But the phrase that I remind our staff and how we approach the care in how we treat our residents is “this is their house and we work for you”.  It’s not just something that we say, it is how we do our best to approach the things that we do.  If you are looking at a community that doesn’t treat your loved one as an individual, look elsewhere!  When it comes to tours, I offer our current residents the opportunity to meet and greet some of our prospects.  It gives the prospective family and potential residents a chance to hear first-hand information from the consumers who know it best.  It also invites the members of our community to be part of the place they call home and it is truly heart-warming to see the way that they communicate.  Who else would know better than the ones who have been in the exact same shoes as the prospect!

Suggestion Number Three

Visiting Hours

Another thing (that yes, even as an administrator) I would suggest is drop in without an appointment.  Now, of course, this needs to be at a decent hour.  Most properties love to schedule a tour so that a marketing person or administrator can help you through the process and that is a truly effective way to get the answers to most of your questions.  But dropping in on a Saturday or taking up the offer to join the community for a meal are great ways to get a good feel for how a community functions.  Now the meal “invites” do typically need to be scheduled so that enough food can be prepared, but it is a wonderful opportunity to sample the “fare” and observe the staff and community.  Also, don’t forget to let the prospective resident be part of this process.  I have witnessed many families try to avoid bringing their loved one along for fear of upsetting them.  I say start slowly.  This change is hard for everyone…even for the adult children that are trying to do what is best and safe for their aging parent or loved one.  Making the decision to move to an assisted living community is not easy.  Change isn’t easy.  But making the decision to keep someone safe is the right move.

If you would like more information about one of our Great Oaks Management Properties or would like to set up a tour at a property near you, please call us today at 1-888-258-8082.

 

 

 

 

Realistic and Optimistic

While many have sworn off New Year’s Resolutions, it may not be a bad idea to consider what areas may need improvement in our lives. And improvements apply to all ages!  However, it is important to be realistic in tackling our individual concerns.  I can’t help but think of some of those home improvement shows.  A couple looks at tackling this punch list of things that must be fixed…but when the budget or other “things” complicate the completion…they must settle on what can be accomplished.  So, as you consider your own self renovation project, give yourself a break.  Be realistic and optimistic.  Here are 3 things to consider if you have made a list…or even if you feel like you have jumped ship from the resolutions you started on earlier this week.

Number One

Give Yourself a Break!

Nothing says that just because you may have already stopped what you started on January 1st that you can’t achieve your goal.  Michael Jordan once said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.  But I can’t accept not trying.”  Like the rest of us, Michael Jordan has had his share of failures and mistakes but one way NOT to accomplish a projected goal is to quit or not even make the effort.  Take time out and focus on being realistic with your expectations.

Number Two

Avoid Comparisons

No two people are completely alike.  Even twins have their differences.  Don’t look at a situation and expect your result to be like someone else’s.  Your goal should be just that…YOURS.  Your road to results, may have guidance and perhaps similarity to someone else’s situation, but you want to look at it with realistic eyes.  I remember two ladies discussing their aches and pains one day.  One lady was barely seventy and the other in her nineties.  The seventy-year-old said that knee replacement changed her life!  The next thing I knew I had a ninety-year-old lady calling her daughter wanting to get her knees done!  Set goals that are attainable and healthy.  Take small steps to set yourself up for success.

Number Three

Reward Yourself

One of my favorite phrases that I hear people say is “Treat Yourself!”  I think this especially applies if you are working towards a goal.  Now while this may not mean go and pig out and derail a healthy eating plan once you complete one successful week.  It DOES mean to be sure and give yourself a pat on the back for small steps along the way towards your goal.  Develop a reward system that works for you.

In researching and thinking about the blog this week, I looked back at some of the best advice some of our seniors had to give this past year.  I will close with these thoughts and want to wish you all the best in 2018!

  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.
  2. Knowledge is power. Continue your education because that is something that no one can take away from you.
  3. 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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM GREAT OAKS MANAGEMENT!!

Talking Trash

The holidays are all about giving and one of my favorite gifts to give is a sweet treat called Christmas Trash.  Now while this may sound strange, it is DELICIOUS and so easy to make!  We are preparing for Holiday Open House Celebrations and Christmas parties at many of our properties across the state. In our community, I already received the request from several of our residents for me to make my addicting treat of TRASH!  With that being said, I thought I would share this holiday favorite.  Here’s to your happy holiday baking and treat making! I hope you enjoy!. You can also look below the recipe for some presentation inspiration for gift giving your treats.

INGREDIENTS

  • cups Rice Chex
  • cups Corn Chex
  • cups honey nut Cheerios toasted oat cereal
  • cups small pretzels
  • cups salted peanuts
  • (12 ounce) bag of holiday M&M’s plain chocolate candy (red & green)
  • (12 ounce) bag of holiday M&M’s peanut chocolate candies (red & green)
  • (12 ounce) bags white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all ingredients but the white chocolate morsels in a large bowl.
  2. Melt white chocolate morsels according to directions on the package.
  3. Pour melted white chocolate over the cereal mixture and toss well to coat.
  4. Spread on waxed paper and let sit until the white chocolate hardens.
  5. Store in an airtight container.

Grateful Gatherings

As we prepare to give thanks and gather around the table…I remember.  I remember that it was just last Thanksgiving that we experienced a “first” in our community. It was the first time that all 16 of our residents were out with family at the EXACT same time.  It was a strange feeling for the folks that were working that day.  I remember them calling to tell me about it.  Oh, there is always plenty to be done and the staff was happy for the residents to be spending quality time with family and loved ones.  It was just a new first for our community.  What about you?  Is this the first year that you will be planning Thanksgiving after having moved a loved one into an assisted living? Are you concerned with all the preparation and worried about the visit?  Here are a few tips to help you stress less and enjoy Thanksgiving with your elderly loved ones.

Schedules and Timing

As much as you don’t want to plan out every little detail, you do want to give it some thought. Remember that if they are residing in an assisted living they may now be accustomed to a more structured routine.  You will want to check with the staff regarding medications and proper protocol.  You want to be sure to keep everything on track.

Food and Options

Our residents live very active and independent lifestyles.  They enjoy making their own choices and directing their care.  But it is important to consider their dietary needs.  Be mindful of food options.  Remember if Mom doesn’t need the extra salt or Dad needs alternative dessert options.

Time Away

One of the most common comments I hear from families is that they are shocked when not long after eating ….the elderly loved one is ready to go back to their community (new home).  Now naturally this makes an administrator very happy that a resident has come to feel comfortable in their community.  But don’t let it make you feel down.  Remember they have gotten on their own time schedule.  They are enjoying your company, but like many people after a gathering may need some rest.

As with all time together…just enjoy.  Make it special but don’t put too much pressure on your family member or yourself (for that matter) to meet unrealistic expectations.  Incorporate them into the conversation.  Maybe call ahead of time and get their special recipe for a favorite dish.  Spend time talking, relating and making treasured memories.  Savor these moments together and you ALL will come away from the gathering feeling grateful.

elderly african american man enjoying coffee with his granddaughter

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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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!