Logo Header


Culture Change Througout Aging Services



Household Built on Knowing Residents

(Source:  Action Pact, Culture Change Now Newsletter)

When Household Coordinator Jean Sandberg talks about her household at Episcopal Church Home in St Paul, MN, it is easy to lose track of how many times she says, “know the resident.” It is the foundation on which they have built home and a sense of family in Isabella House.  Throughout the organization, when a resident comes to live in a household, after their assessment, the household coordinator, with the resident's permission, puts together information from the assessment into a book titled “What’s Important to Me.” These books help staff get to know the resident as a person. Then a learning circle is held in the household with residents and staff to introduce and welcome the new person. Right from the start, everyone is encouraged to get to know their new housemate.


Jean has also developed Resident Bingo games for staff to help them engage residents and know more about them. “In the beginning, it was information that they could get from their chart. Things like, ‘Who was born in Illinois?’” But then she dug deeper to make it more of a challenge. She talked to residents and their families and included information that would really require conversation such as how someone met her husband. After getting game sheets at a staff meeting, staff spent the week engaging residents to complete the game.


It is also important for residents to get to know each other. Residents in Isabella House put together two-sided “scrapbook” pages of pictures of themselves and the people and things that are important to them. These laminated pages sit on the household dining tables with the salt and pepper shakers an can be used by anyone to help strike up mealtime conversation among tablemates. Not only does this help folks get to know each other, it helps make meal times more interesting.  Most Isabella House residents are living with dementia. Jean said knowing things about residents is particularly helpful in guiding them through difficult situations. For example, when assisting someone to the bathroom, Jean said, knowing that that person grew up on a farm and used to go to an outhouse can be useful in understanding where they may be at and in negotiating with them.


The folks at Isabella House know that getting to know someone can and should happen in many different ways. They have made it a way of life in the household by looking for opportunities to make connections with each other throughout the day. When everyone really knows each other in special ways, life in the household feels so much more natural. It feels like home.  MORE

Mean Girls: Not Just Teenagers Anymore

(Source:  by IAHSA - The Global Ageing Network)

Nick Oza/The Arizona Republic

Doris Lor, a 76-year-old retired secretary, says she first encountered bullies when she moved into a retirement community in Chandler. She says some residents at Solera Chandler exclude her from community programs.


An article in The Arizona Republic highlights the increasing problem of bullying in American retirement communities. The article looks at the story of Doris Lor, a 76-year-old retired secretary, who experienced bullying upon joining an retirement community outside of Phoenix. According to Doris: “There is a clique here that is meaner than mean,” adding that “[n]o matter where you go, even if you pay for the activity, the clique saves all the seats,” and that she has “never had a problem like this anywhere else. I have never been bullied at any other time in my life.”

According to Robin Bonifas, a gerontology expert and assistant professor at the Arizona State University School of Social Work, who is researching bullying “10 to 20 percent of older people in care homes experience some type of abuse from fellow residents.” The article also quotes Melanie Starns, an Assistant Arizona Department of Economic Security Director, stating that bullying is “a pretty big deal. The mean girls were there in school and as we get older, they are still around.” Starns explained the behavior by noting that “older people act like bullies for the same reasons that younger ones do: to respond to someone or something that makes them feel insecure. Dementia also may be one underlying cause of nasty behavior.” She adds that “[w]hen people become more frail, they feel more vulnerable … [s]ome people adjust, while other people develop difficult and destructive behaviors.”  MORE HERE and HERE

She's Got Some Advice on Aging -- and the Years to Prove it Works

(Source:  By Mary Forgione, For the Los Angeles Times)

Marguerite Miller, 90, is one of what's believed to be the country's oldest triplets. (Harry Fisher / Allentown Morning Call)

Aging gracefully has little to do with wrinkle creams and much to do with exercising and staying active in the community. That's what works for Marguerite Miller, anyway, and that's also what has brought the 90-year-old a bit of celebrity.  Miller and her sisters are believed to be the oldest living triplets in the country. Notes an Allentown Morning Call story: "…


A national expert on longevity says the sisters' healthy lifestyle, and not genetics, is more likely why the sisters have lived such healthy lives."  So what exactly is a healthy lifestyle? Here are some tips on healthy aging and a nutritional guide from HelpGuide.com. And here’s how the federal Healthy People 2020 campaign aims to keep older people healthy.

That should get you started. Of course, if you’re far from your golden years, no reason not to start on a healthy path now. Check out "Fit for Life" at Healthkey.com   LINK HERE  

Resident Involvement is Essential

Action Pact consultant Megan Hannan shares her thoughts on resident involvement and a story of its power in one organization

(Source:  Action Pact, Culture Change Now Newsletter)

We so often think we know what residents want or what they think, but the only way to really know and to really have resident-directed life is to have them involved as much as possible throughout the culture change process and then every day after. We can assert our commitment to resident input and decision making by involving them right from the start on the Steering Team for the organization's culture change.  It's important to have residents on the team because they give us unique perspectives on daily life in the home. It also sets the stage for a new way of behaving in the organization: being person-centered and having elders involved in organizational decisions. When residents are around we speak and think differently, helping us to keep them in the forefront of our discussions and desired outcomes. By working with residents on something other than personal care, we begin to see them more as a person not only a frail person who needs help. This too helps us be more person-centered, seeing elders for the whole of who they are, not just their disabilities.
Laclede Groves Retirement Community (an LSS community), in Webster Groves, MO, recently had their second Steering Team meeting and invited resident Maurine Lamar to join the team. Maurine's presence was particularly felt when we did a team activity in which teams answer a questionnaire together about where in the culture change journey different areas of the organization fall. The answers must be decided by coming to consensus. While staff sometimes perceived things one way, Maurine was able to weigh in on how she really experienced those same things.
At the end of the meeting we did a closing circle wherein all 30 members of the team stood in a circle and each answered the question, "What is something that really stuck out for you about the day?" While everyone was standing, I offered to Maurine, who walks with a walker, that perhaps she would like to sit down as 30 answers can take a while. I assumed that she would want to rest and I was wrong. She wanted to be sure to stand for the whole thing and she did. When it was her turn to answer, Maurine said, "I now feel I have purpose. Thank you." And we were all reminded of exactly why we were there.  MORE

Timely Depression Diagnosis Critical To Maintain Health of Elderly

Depression affects approximately 30 to 40 percent of nursing home residents, but it often goes unrecognized, according to American Geriatrics Society, which can lead to lower quality of life or even suicide.  Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found a series of indicators, other than changes in mood that are associated with the development of depression in nursing home residents.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of depression is essential to improve the quality of life for nursing home residents," said Lorraine Phillips, assistant professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing. "Many elderly people develop certain clinical characteristics at the same time they develop depression.  Understanding these changes is essential to quickly and accurately diagnosing depression in nursing home residents." full article

Elderly Wheelchair Bound Man Robs Bank To Go Back To Jail

(Source:  by Jerrie Dean, San Diego Headlines Examiner)

A 71-year-old man that robbed a bank while in a wheel chair said he did it because he felt hopeless because of all his health problems and wanted to go back to jail.  Peter Lawrence rolled his wheelchair into a San Diego Chase bank and held it up with a replica BB gun last July.  He got away with $2,000 and made it a few blocks away before he was arrested on the 700 block of F street.   

Lawrence has federal convictions for robbing a bank in 1997 and 1999 and told the Judge that he did it because he knew the insurance company would give them their money back.  He continued to tell the judge that when his health problems put him in a wheelchair, he thought about robbing banks, because he was feeling hopeless and he could get the medical care he needed.  

"I'm ready to die right now," Lawrence said. "If somebody were to put me out of my misery, I'd be so happy. I can't go on anymore. It's all over for me. No more bank robberies. It's just not worth it. I'd rather be dead."  Lawrence had plead guilty to the charges in August and on Friday was sentenced to 21 years in prison.  LINK HERE  

Lonely Elders at Risk for Health Problems

(Source:  Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor-in-Chief, Eldercarelink.com)

Numerous studies show that humans are social creatures and too much isolation can have a negative effect on mental and physical health. Lonely elders are abundant in our society. Though we may not always succeed, we caregivers need to do what we can to encourage them to get out and socialize.

Most of us know at least one elder who insists that life is fine though he sits in front of the TV for the greater part of each day and barely eats. Yet this person maintains that going out is too much trouble and having people in just doesn't make sense.

For some, this becomes a real sickness called agoraphobia which is the fear of leaving one's home. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I am a person who, by nature, needs a great deal of alone time. I am a homebody who reads for relaxation. So, I do feel rather sympathetic toward these folks. However, I also know that I need social contacts and so do these elders.

Many studies have shown that people of all ages need an active social life. If we don't get that, we can become withdrawn and prone to depression. Add to that the fact that older people tend to have more health problems which, in turn, make them prefer staying home, plus transportation problems that make getting around hard, and it's easy to see how elders can become withdrawn. Also, many of these people always went places with a spouse, so it seems unnatural for them to go out alone.  LINK TO ARTICLE


A Lewy Body Patient:  “Lewy Body symptoms make my life one of constant frustration.”

(NOTE:  Although this is an article about Lewy Body dementia, it is applicable to ALL OF OUR ELDERS…  It helps us to “walk a mile in their shoes” and understand life from their perspective.  I highly recommend this!!!)

(Source:  Shirley Lay, The information in the article "Lewy Body Disease from a Patients Point Of View" was obtained from what Shirley Lay observed from many the LBD caregivers she corresponds with on a daily basis, some is from her mom -a Lewy Body Disease patient-, and the rest is from what she observed. She typed this up for a meeting at her mom's nursing home. They had no clue what LBD was or how to treat a patient who had it.)

There are so many things I can and want to do for myself; but at any time, I may suddenly find I'm unable to do anything without assistance, and at times I'm overcome with fatigue. Please be patient and allow me a bit more time. I know the staff members are very busy, but when you tell me "Hurry", the stress of something even that simple may make my symptoms even worse. If you yell at me or act visibly irritated, I get more confused and will most likely become very agitated. If you were to try to make a sudden change in my routine or schedule, it would confuse me too. Please, take the time to explain things and talk to me in a reassuring, kind compassionate manner. When you roll your eyes or complain that I'm asking for too much help, it makes me feel bad. I don't want to overwork anyone but the reason I'm here is that sometimes, I really do need help. Do you really believe I enjoy not being able to do things for myself? I use to be very independent and never dreamed I'd ever have to ask anyone for help.

When I wet my diaper or have a bowel movement, I'm very embarrassed. It's a gross, dirty feeling and I'm ashamed that I'm in this condition. Leaving me this way for hours at a time is even more humiliating and I wish I could just die instead of having to be this way. Sometimes I have real difficulties with simple tasks like brushing my hair, washing, or getting to the toilet on time. It embarrasses me that I can't handle these personal matters. I've had Lewy body for over a year and on a good day I can hold a conversation, feed myself and attempt to comb my own hair. But those other days, that's when I need your help.

Often and quite unpredictably, my movements become extra slow, even immobile. Sometimes for a short time, I literally "freeze" on the spot. A physiotherapist can demonstrate useful strategies to help me become unstuck. Don't push me or pull me as this may lead to a fall. I worry a lot about falling and breaking a hip or wrist, but I want to keep mobile and independent. I appreciate the staff understanding this. When my body is working, I'm able to move about safely using a walker, a wheelchair, or other aides.

Mealtimes in the dining room can be really frustrating and embarrassing as it takes me ages to cut my food and get it to my mouth. Sometimes it's impossible to do either. The food is often cold before I'm half through the meal. My eyesight is so unpredictable, sometimes I am able to see pretty well; other times I can't even make out the food on my plate and don't know what I'm eating until it reaches my mouth. Sometimes I can't even tell if I still have food left on my plate. Over last year or so, I've also developed problems with swallowing. As a result, there's always too much saliva in my mouth and I drool. It's very embarrassing. Because of the swallowing difficulties, I worry a lot about choking. A side effect of some of the medications I take is a dry mouth, so I need a lot of ice water available. The water also helps my speech and is good for the constipation that plagues a lot of LBD patients. Sometimes it may be difficult for me to swallow water; then, I tend to do better with juices and other thicker liquids.

Voluntary movements sometimes take more effort for a person with Lewy Body Disease so I get tired very easily. It's difficult for me to get a good night's sleep, as I may need help turning over. If my medications wear off before morning, I may awaken feeling cramped and stiff and since I can't move naturally in bed, it's impossible to fall back to sleep.

Sometimes I may look grouchy or uninterested. It may be I'm simply not able to see you or hear you. But, please ask me how I'm feeling because I still enjoy a good conversation. My speech is sometimes difficult to understand; the words get slurred or muffled and the volume is low because of various muscles being affected. My slowness to respond isn't always related to my hearing problem or that my brain is slow; sometimes it just takes awhile for the words to come out! With a conscious effort on my part, I'm sometimes able to speak more clearly and I appreciate the staff taking a little extra time to listen very carefully.

Lewy Body Disease is a very lonely and boring condition. Often I feel trapped in my own body. My clumsy hands make activities such as crafts or games difficult, although I used to enjoy a game cards, bingo, or Scrabble. I'd like to socialize more, to feel like a normal human being. If someone can help me with a game of bingo or whatever, I'd enjoy that. It's too hard for me to maneuver the pieces and sometimes I can't even see them and my concentration is not as good as it used to be. This really doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy the company if I could have some help. But I don't want to be made to feel stupid or inadequate in front of others.

I would like nothing better than to return home and resume my independent life. I don't enjoy depending on others for anything. Please remember that I didn't choose to have my life turned upside down. Your patience and understanding is the best medicine for me. Remember that I still have feelings; I still have needs; not so long ago, I was just like everyone else. The best thing you can do for me now is treat me with respect. Encourage me. Don't talk over my head as if I'm not there. I may not respond to your questions or remarks but that doesn't mean I didn't hear you. I don't need to be put to sleep or shoved into a corner; I need to keep as active of a life as possible. Last but not least, please do not compare me to other patients. This disease may have similarities to other diseases, but it is very unique. No two patients display the same symptoms. No one can tell from one minute to the next what my abilities will be at any given moment, so please don't think I am being stubborn or ignorant; the disease is running my body. I no longer have full control. There is no longer a normal day for me.  LINK HERE  

A Day to Remember: Assisted Living Residents Share Their Memories With Others

(Source:  www.standard.net)

Eleanor Bent was an American Red Cross volunteer. Virginia Stirling was a painter and calligrapher. Henrietta Thomas was an Army nurse. Charles Pennington was a physician.  All are residents of Mountain Ridge Assisted Living Center in Ogden. During the recent Assisted Living Week, residents were asked to bring memorabilia about themselves so they could share with one another. The theme was Resident's Life Journey, so residents were able to set their items on a table for others to enjoy.

"Oh, I think this was a great idea," Stirling said. "It helps you to get to know one another and see what their interests are and what they did with their lives."  Stirling became interested in art after watching her father-in-law paint and draw with calligraphy.  "Oh, he did some beautiful work," she said. "I was really interested in what he did and I decided to try it out. I enjoy it very much."

Thomas said when she was a little girl she decided she wanted to become a nurse.  "I read a lot about doctors and nurses and I just really wanted to become a nurse," she said. "I made my mind up at a very young age."

On display were three huge scrapbooks of Thomas' nursing career with the Army Corps, along with badges and newspaper clippings.  "I worked a lot overseas and also in Hawaii, Colorado and Wyoming," she said. "I also worked as a nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital."

…Cheryl Schmid, who was in charge of the event at Mountain Ridge Assisted Living, said the center has some very talented and successful individuals.  "They are wonderful people who have done so much in their lives," she said. "It's just something nice to do for our residents. Something to honor them and let them know how much we appreciate them and what valuable people they are in the community."  READ MORE HERE

Great Old Broads Take on Washington

(Source:  By Beth Baker, www.msmagazine.com)

It’s not every day that a handful of women in their sixties play a game using leaf blowers and a large yellow ball on the National Mall in Washington. But such antics are par for the course for Great Old Broads for Wilderness, an organization that enjoys its environmentalism spiced with a healthy mix of hilarity.

The Broads, based in Durango, Colo., were in D.C. the end of September as part of National Wilderness Week, along with 120 other activists lobbying for public lands protection. When I last reported on the Broads, I accompanied the group’s executive director Veronica (Ronni) Egan and associate director Rose Chilcoat on a hike in Utah to monitor the ecological health of Recapture Wash, a fragile stretch of red-rock canyon. (I knew this was not your average environmental group when the first thing I saw in their office was an enormous lavender bra–size 40-D–hanging from the wall. Instead of passing a hat, they pass the bra. “We want our cup to runneth over,” Chilcoat cracked.) On that trip, the organization successfully shut down an illegal road carved through the area by off-road vehicle enthusiasts.

Great Old Broads began in 1989 when a group of older women were sitting in a cafe after a long hike and saw on the news that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wanted to open up wilderness areas to roads–ostensibly to allow older people access. “Our founders didn’t want to be used as scapegoats,” says Chilcoat. “They were women of a certain age, physically active, politically savvy, who realized theirs was the missing voice in the wilderness dialogue.”

Their “wrinkled ranks,” as they put it, have grown to 5,500. They regularly organize hiking expeditions (“Broadwalks”) where participants learn about wilderness, do a service project and have a lot of laughs. They have 24 chapters (“Broadbands”) in 15 states, led by women who have been through Leader Bootcamp.  READ MORE



Life at 93 for a Baltimore County, Maryland Senior – Keep Going Forward and Create a Legacy

(Source: Linked In)

A local senior in Baltimore County, Maryland showcases the future trend of those that will be served by senior care and housing providers.  People want to stay involved.  People want to stay engaged.  People want to make a difference in the world, and at the end be able to look back with pride.

As a provider of senior care and housing, all of these factors above should be considered in the daily engagement of those over the age of 55.  Without this awareness, we provide care when we should be focused on providing options for a better lifestyle.  MORE

County Resident Honored for 75 Years of Teaching

County Executive Jim Smith presents Paul Miller (left) with an executive citation
for his 75 years – and counting – of teaching.

Spring Arbor gives back to teachers

(Source: www.theapexherald.com)

Spring Arbor of Apex Assisted Living residents made gift baskets for Apex Elementary School teachers. The residents have a passion for volunteering, and the teacher gift baskets are their latest community service endeavor.  The staff-members of Apex Elementary were kind enough to allow Spring Arbor resident, Kathleen Jones, to present the gift baskets during their faculty meeting.

Residents were excited to put together the baskets for people who contribute to the town of Apex in such an important way, and wanted to get the school year started off right for the teachers returning this month. The residents volunteer with WakeMed Cary and Apex by crocheting baby hats and blankets and making stuffed animals for children admitted to the hospital.  Read more: Apex Herald - Spring Arbor gives back to teachers