According to a recent article by Good Housekeeping, living longer life may have something to do with Assisted Living Communities! The article states, “Beyond inviting our older relatives and friends into our homes, it’s important to encourage elderly relationships — which is why, despite popular belief, older folks tend to thrive in independent or assisted living environments. These living arrangements provide more ways to mingle, to connect, to thrive.”
This holds true for Mrs. Carrie Miller. Mrs. Miller celebrated her 103rd birthday this past December. As we sat down to talk with her we learned a little bit about her Southern charm and grace. Mrs. Miller is from Georgia and moved to the Gardens of Clanton in 2010. She grew up with five siblings, one of which was her twin brother named Jay. She has made a wonderful life and has been blessed with 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
A former homemaker, she enjoys going to parties and her favorite holiday is Christmas. She is quite the fashionista and when she was ready to greet us, she showed us several of her outfit choices before selecting the perfect one that was one of “her” colors. She looked quite lovely of course. She has always been a social butterfly and when asked what makes her happy she said it was her children, family, friends AND…listening to the Chosen Two singers that share music at the Gardens of Clanton. She loves life and hearing a message in song. She shared that her favorite part about living at the Gardens is having wonderful help always there for her and having friends to talk to. So blessed to have her charm and grace. Grateful that her life has been enriched by her time at the Gardens of Clanton.
I can still see her face and hear her laugh. She was the first social director I knew at an assisted living. Was she on the staff? Oh no! She was a sharp dressed lady named Geraldine with an even sharper wit. Affectionately known to her family as “Gigi” she was one of the first ladies who taught me that residents in an assisted living have lots of living left to do. Ms. Geraldine would keep me apprised as to the latest “goings on” with the royals. Gigi loved Will and Kate and a good game of Skip Bo. She and the other ladies that made up her Skip Bo group were the first group I affectionately referred to as my sorority rush committee. Ms. Geraldine would be the first to tell you…life in assisted living is not about bingo and bedtime. It is much more and can be so fulfilling. She spent her golden years of life loving her family and her friends and living each day to its fullest. So, if you are looking at assisted living for yourself or a loved one…what are the benefits of the social aspects?
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found evidence that “elderly people in the U.S. who have an active social life may have a slower rate of memory decline. In fact, memory decline among the most sociable was less than half the rate among the least sociable. Senior author Lisa Berkman, chair of the Department of Society, Human Development and Health, went on to say, “We know from previous studies that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. We now have mounting evidence that strong social networks can help to prevent declines in memory. As our society ages and has more and more older people, it will be important to promote their engagement in social and community life to maintain their well-being.”
Studies show that lack of socialization is linked to negative impacts on health and well-being, especially for older people. Having a variety of social opportunities and activities vastly improve the psychological and physical health of seniors. The benefits include reducing stress, increasing physical health, and defeating psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.
Assisted living promotes socialization with everything from a robust activities calendar to dining together in a community setting. Engaging in activities and other community events allows seniors to bond with new friends while promoting physical and mental health. This can prolong their quality of life and overall life expectancy. Does this sounds like something that would benefit your elderly loved one and you want to know more? Check out our latest Activities Calendar to see what is going on at one of our communities near you at www.greatoaksmanagement.com or call us today at 1-888-258-8082.
*In memory of former resident Geraldine Reilly.
Thank you to her family for allowing us to share this in her memory.
November is typically the month where we stop and give thanks. This year in our community we have a Thankful Tree. Thanks to the talent and creativity of my staff members, this beautiful notion has come to life. But the real beauty that you will find are the comments that are attached to the branches of this tree. Residents and staff have given thanks for everything from health and happiness to family and friendship. So, as our hearts and minds turn to the holiday season, here are some suggestions to help you prepare for those times we treasure the most. Thinking ahead will make you thankful you did when it comes to sharing the holidays with your loved one that lives in an assisted living.
Stick to the Schedule
I have had families tell me time and time again that they were amazed that their parent was ready to go back home (to their ALF community) almost immediately after Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch or supper was over. While they were surprised, in many ways it was comforting for them. They realize that their loved one had made their community their home. I am reminded of my own Granddaddy. He was a man of routine. He didn’t vary much from his schedule. That is what I remind the families of our residents. They have the tendency in some cases to become creatures of habit. Trust me…they like a decent dose of predictability. Don’t believe me? Try canceling bingo! But just try and be as flexible as possible with their expectations. Plan ahead when it comes to medications and other necessities. If you are prepared in advance it will be more Norman Rockwell and less National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.
Don’t forget to Include Me!
Does Mom have a recipe for everyone’s favorite Caramel Cake? Does Grandpa have a story that he loves to tell? If you have ever had to suffer the loss of a loved one, you know that things like this will one day become a treasured memory. If Mom is able, include her in some of the preparation process for the meal. Or even just ask her advice. Everyone likes to feel included. Maybe you have heard Grandpa Pete’s story about his days in the war a hundred times. Maybe this year is the time to write it down. In our culture, we get so caught up in being in a hurry. Heaven knows we all can be glued to electronics. Take time to turn off and tune in to loved ones. Your conversations will be priceless to you one day.
While the holidays can be a time for sadness for some, it is best to keep conversation light. But many forget that while seniors may be older, they still like to engage. We all love looking at pictures on our social media accounts, right? Share with your elderly loved one the photos from the high school playoffs or the trip to the pumpkin patch. The pictures can be made large enough for their viewing on most devices. You may even want to let everyone in your family go around the room and tell what they are thankful for. You may find as we did with our Thankful Tree that what you hear will bless you more than you ever imagined.
Great Oaks Management communities will observe holiday meals during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. If you would like to join your loved one for a meal, call and make your reservation today.
We decided to round February out with a look at Famous Couples in History. Each of us knows a couple who has an amazing love story. Perhaps they have been together for a very long time; perhaps they overcame adversity to make their lives together. Whatever the story, couples who have a long history of being together inspire all of us.
History is full of real couples who have inspired us. Let’s take a look at a few famous couples:
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton: this famous couple said “I do” twice.
Paul Newman and Joann Woodward: this famous Hollywood couple maintained their private relationship despite the glare of fame.
Nancy and Ronald Reagan: None of us can forget row boat gift between these two.
John and Jackie Kennedy: This couple was probably the first to live under modern media pressure in the White House.
Dana and Christopher Reeves: Despite his serious injury, their relationship never failed.
These are just a few of the famous couples we have all followed thru history. Who are the couples in your life? Grandparents who have been married for 50+ years? Close friends who have maintained their relationship despite hardships? Take time to ask the special couples in your life how they did it. It just might give you some insight to maintain your own special relationship.