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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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!

 

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.