Category: Miscellaneous

Adjusting to your new senior living lifestyle

After all the hard work of planning, narrowing down choices and making the big move, you’re finally settled into your new senior living community. Your family helped you move in. They’ve called almost every day. You’ve met a handful of new people. But community life is still very new—and you wonder how long it will take before you start to feel at home.

This scenario is more common than you might think among older adults who make the move to senior living.

While the relocation process can be exciting, after the hustle and bustle of moving day ends, new residents can feel unsure what to do next or how to integrate into their new community. No matter how old we get, huge changes in our lifestyles inevitably come with an adjustment period.

If your recent move to senior living has you feeling a bit out of place, don’t worry! You didn’t make a mistake—it just sometimes takes time to adjust to a new way of living. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to shorten that adjustment period and start feeling at home. Click here to read more!

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How are those New Year’s resolutions going?

Now that we are almost halfway through the year, it’s a great time to reflect on our New Year’s resolutions.

I think we may find, however, that many of us (myself included) have not changed much. A habit needs more than just a holiday to make or break it. Habits are adaptations—specifically, coping skills—that we create to deal with daily life.

Traditional thinking is that it takes 28 days to change a habit. Whether we are talking about diet, spending habits or some type of rehab, individuals equate change to this magic number.

However, latest research shows that 66 days is the actual number. That is quite a difference!

And merely wishing and waiting till day 66 will not get us to our goals either. If you already quit your resolutions back in February, here are a few suggestions to help get you back on track.

Where is God?

When “bad things” happen to “innocent” people, many wonder, “Where is or was God?”  “If God is good and loving, why does God cause or allow such suffering?”

After my 35-year-old sister died of cancer, I was very angry at God and had those same burning questions.  With a lot of prayer, reading and conversation with some wise people, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

Get started!

I’m too out of shape to run. I’ll start after I lose some weight…

Sound familiar?

Mike Leavitt (bib #113 in photo) felt this way for quite some time. He was an athlete in his younger days but work, family and life in general had taken its toll.

At 38 years of age, he felt scared and disgusted at how out of shape he was. And when a friend suggested joining a running program, he thought it was out of the question.

“I’ve never been a runner per se. With flat feet, bad knees and a larger frame, I’m not really built for speed. In addition, my energy level was really low. I wasn’t motivated at all. Never thought I could do it!” he says.

Dealing with a trunk full of “rattlesnakes”

I had a college professor once who said that many people deal with traumatic memories as we would a trunk full of rattlesnakes. We keep the trunk tightly locked because we believe that if we open it, danger will quickly overtake us.

I have thought about that for years, wondering if keeping those rattlesnakes in the trunk is a good—or bad—idea. Are we truly safe leaving them in there or will, eventually, we find that they have worked their way out and we have no idea where they are—or if they’re ready to strike?

Would it perhaps be better to open the trunk and deal with them when we’re better equipped and ready, especially if perhaps we’ve requested someone to help us, to not open that trunk alone?

Of course, the trunk full of rattlesnakes is an excellent metaphor for traumatic or similar experiences. Everyone deals with those experiences differently but is there a better way to face and manage difficult memories.

Brooke Brown, clinical director for Diakon Family Life Services – Capital Region, which offers services to address traumatic experiences, below shares professional thoughts on trauma and how to address it in a healthy way.

—Melissa Kindall
Diakon Corporate Communications

I think that historically, we (that is the general population, not us therapist-types) have not really known how to deal properly with trauma and traumatic experiences. We have thought about trauma as a physical issue, like a car accident or something requiring medical attention. Or we have convinced ourselves that not dealing with traumatic memories is best because, after all, no one can see the wounds if we don’t talk about them.

A simple lesson on aging: What you feel today may indeed be what you feel then

He’d called a former girlfriend of his.
That’s what the older gentleman we sometimes helped by providing transportation to medical appointments told me, in casual conversation in the midst of a return trip home.
Even though his wife had passed away a few years before, I was a bit shocked by this—particularly when he told me he’d last seen the “girl” nearly 70 years before.
Their conversation apparently went nowhere fast, for she was married, he learned. Beyond that, he proffered, chuckling a bit, she still seemed miffed that he had asked her to wait for marriage until he returned from World War II.
Waiting, he mused, had not been in her character.
Fast-forward a few years to this week. As I stood in line to vote, an older man in front of me seemed ready to pick a political fight with another older gentleman standing off to the side. Perhaps they knew each other, perhaps not, but it was certainly obvious one was “blue,” the other “red.”

When is counseling a good idea?

Counseling can be of assistance in a wide variety of situations. Several families, for example, mention the impact it’s had on their lives in edited excerpts below. To learn if it might benefit you, see advice below from Laurel Spencer of Diakon Family Life Services …

•    “I’m a single mom and messed up royally when I was younger. My youngest child, for example, has struggled with feeling abandoned. And who could blame him? His father told him that I should have had an abortion because having him ruined his life! My son wouldn’t sleep alone for years; it was hard for me to leave him. I sought out counseling for him but then realized I also needed an outlet. I’m still struggling but my son and I went to counseling together and I learned what he needed to have from me. I also learned how to better handle the stress of raising my children alone. Counseling definitely helped us.”

•    “My husband and I sought marriage counseling after becoming involved in foster care while also caring for our other children and grandchildren. There was never time for just the two of us. My husband thought counseling was a waste of time but went because he knew it was important to me. Communication was our key issue. Now, thanks to counseling, we are open to communication and pay more attention to each other. Counseling has allowed us see there needs to be “us time” and even parent/child time with each of our children. In fact, we hire a sitter once a month so that we can do something with our older kids. Before going to counseling, we had simply spread ourselves too thin.”

There’s no question about it: We live in a complex world that sometimes presents us with difficulties we’re not sure how to address.

The girl who liked “hillbilly” music

Diakon staff member Anita Bussard, an administrative assistant on the Robinwood Campus of Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown, supports the organization in a number of ways—including arranging for various entertainers to visit the senior living community for residents to enjoy. Her background has positioned her well for this unique contribution!

Growing up in the late 50s and early 60s, the high time of rock ‘n’ roll, doo-wop, and swing, I was referred to as “the girl who liked ‘hillbilly’ music.”

Classmates, as friends, were few but my admiration and love for the music never stopped.

Reaching rural communities a prime goal of PrimeTime Health

For older adults who live in rural areas—such as Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and who prefer not to venture far from home, PrimeTime Health offers classes in a number of community settings, reaching people where they live.

For example, our “Healthy Steps” classes take place in a variety of community settings, including senior community centers and even department stores. As a result, I have seen so many people benefit from this program designed to reduce people’s chances of falling. Developed by the state Department of Aging and the University of California at Berkley, the program is a proven way to reduce this risk, with the two-session series including a personal risk assessment, a balance evaluation, exercise and a home safety checklist. Think of the significant impact a serious fall can have on a frail older adult—and you can easily visualize how important such a program can be!

In our area, we also offer a “Healthier Living with Diabetes” class that runs for six weeks. Brand-new to Schuylkill County in 2016, the program, which was developed by Stanford University, covers topics such as managing symptoms, exercise, medication and working with health-care providers.

Veterans specialist finds helping vets not only rewarding, but also a duty

The situation was somewhat unusual. The woman had been married to a veteran who had died on active duty—in 1948! She had been drawing a veterans benefit called DIC after he passed away, but then remarried and the benefits were terminated.

Later her second husband died and she developed disabilities that required personal care. But because she could no longer remember many of the details, I interviewed her family and began research to determine information on her first husband. With the assistance of personnel at the VA Regional Office in Philadelphia, we were able to identify the veteran, obtain the necessary information, file a claim and get benefits awarded for her.

Further, we were able to secure CHAMP-VA health-care coverage for her, meaning she did not have to obtain a separate supplemental health-care policy, saving her considerable funds.

I took these steps because I believe that making sure that veterans and their spouses receive the benefits to which they are entitled isn’t just a priority—it’s our duty.