Tag: retirement community

The power of community

I recently heard someone speak about the importance of community. I was intrigued by an unusual experience he cited, called the Roseto effect.

According to UnimedLiving.com, “In 1964 a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined a population of recent Italian immigrants in Roseto, a small town in the state of Pennsylvania. The study was instigated because the town doctor was completely baffled by the Rosetans’ near immunity to heart disease. He reported his observations” and an extensive study was conducted, comparing health statistics in the community to those of neighboring towns.

In fact, from 1954 to 1961, Roseto had nearly no heart attacks within the population of men 55 to 64, normally a high-risk group, and men older than 65 had a death rate of 1%, while nationally the average was 2%, despite other behaviors (such as smoking) considered unhealthy and sometimes-hazardous working conditions.

The local physician attributed the lower heart-disease rate to lower stress. Researchers suggested “the quality of family relationships and the social milieu may be pertinent to the occurrence of or protection against death from myocardial infarction.” (The Huffington Post also writes about it here in more detail.)

Interestingly, as social structures changed and the community grew less tight-knit, heart-disease rates rose to be comparable to the rest of the country.

There are certainly no guarantees that living in a close-knit community will protect you against heart disease but, at least for me, the Roseto effect makes sense.

When we live in healthy communities, assisting one another and enjoying life together, it just makes sense that stress levels are lower. With stress reportedly one factor in heart disease, it seems logical to associate life in close community with others to taking at least one step closer to physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Creating that type of community lies at the heart of what senior living services providers such as Diakon do.

The very design of our senior living communities, the amenities we offer and the events we craft are all designed to engender a sense of community not only among our residents but also between residents and staff members and residents and the general community.

Again, no one can claim creating such community will ensure lowered heart concerns or even decreased stress levels, but it certainly cannot hurt. And when you speak with our residents, many mention the newfound sense of community they have found with us.

By Melissa Kindall
Manager, Social Media and Digital Communications Manager
Corporate Communications & Public Relations

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Senior living … with the emphasis on living!

It’s a concern I often hear.

Life in a senior living community means giving up your independence. Or it means you no longer own your own home. Or it means we’ll be isolated from our friends and family. And on and on.

But nothing could be further from the truth!

And so many people who come to live in a Diakon Senior Living Community later say they held back from making a decision and were suddenly forced to consider the move. They frequently add that they wish they had made the decision long ago, had they known the positive impact our lifestyle can have.

We at Diakon Senior Living Services are happy to debunk such commonly held myths. In fact, many of our residents say that community life opens up new opportunities for better health and wellness, quality of life and a sense of fulfillment they could never experience living on their own!

From greater independence to security for the future, the benefits can be life-changing:

Click here to read more!

Bowling brings out the good sport in residents

In the world of bowling, three consecutive strikes is called a “turkey.”

In the world of Wii bowling tournaments at the Cumberland Crossings senior living community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, such an accomplishment earns the “turkey hat.”

“Not everyone thinks it’s an honor to wear the hat, but they’re all good sports,” says Toni Cannon, the senior living community’s fitness coordinator.

For the past 10 years, Toni has coordinated a Wii bowling tournament for residents. Two of Cumberland Crossings’ home video-game systems were donated and as residents experimented with various games, bowling became the favorite.

“I’ve tried to do the golf, but no one wants to, not even the golfers. The baseball game is hard and tennis is difficult. I think they like the bowling because it is a simple game, easy to learn and everyone understands it,” Toni says.

“And playing it gives the feel of actual bowling. It requires some hand-eye coordination to use the controller and release the ball at the right time, but even people who have never bowled before can do it.”

‘Smart Seniors’ at Diakon Senior Living: The pursuit of knowledge

After retirement, it can be easy slip into habits that don’t always challenge our minds and bodies. Without careers or family to care for, we can become isolated and out of touch if we aren’t careful.

But when we pursue something of value to us, it can give us energy and purpose each day. It can provide goals and reasons to be active members of our community.

For that reason, lifelong learning is an important part of healthy aging.

Not only does continued learning stimulate the mind and battle the risks of cognitive decline, but it also provides individuals with the benefits of new perspectives, social opportunities and a sense of purpose.

Whether you choose to explore something new or continue learning in an area of personal expertise, staying mentally active is a key to a healthy and meaningful lifestyle.

To read more, please click here

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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Remembering the guardian of Topton’s history

I had heard the name Virginia “Ginny” Ebersole numerous times after the 2000 creation of Diakon that brought The Lutheran Home at Topton into my work-life, typically as the guardian of The Lutheran Home’s history as an orphanage.

Because I had a similar role in safeguarding the records of the children’s home operated by Tressler Lutheran Services—my former organization before the Diakon merger—I felt a sort of kinship with Ginny, even though the similarities ended there.

Ginny, after all, had actually grown up in the children’s home and then returned in retirement to the place of her childhood, living in one of independent-living cottages at The Lutheran Home, now a senior living community.

Although I had the privilege to work with Ginny the past two years, I wish I had learned to know her personally sooner because her commitment to protecting and preserving the history of the home was both outstanding and amazing. When someone wanted to know the history of a child who had been served by the home, everyone immediately turned to Ginny for that information.

But no longer. Virginia B. (Baer) Ebersole passed away last Sunday, July 24, at the age of 88.

Ginny lovingly told stories of her time at the home, to which she moved in 1933 when her mother passed away; her father’s work schedule made it difficult for him to take care of his family.

“We spent most days learning and studying, taking part in various activities including plays, and doing chores,” Ginny said during an interview for a 2014 Dialog article about her. “But the most important things we learned were respect, responsibility and how to work.”

When she turned 18, she left the home, typical for children coming of age. She married, raised a family and worked well into her 60s. When she and her late husband retired, the decision to return to Topton was an easy one.

Before long, Ginny became the unofficial archivist for Topton’s records.

GinnyEbersole4

“Ginny worked diligently to preserve the artifacts and rich history of the services provided by the orphanage at The Lutheran Home at Topton,” says Mark Pile, Diakon president/CEO. “She did this excellent volunteer work out of her love for and her personal roots at the orphanage and for the many friendships she maintained with those who lived at Topton, as well as the family and friends who have been part of that history. She will be deeply missed.”

My direct work with Ginny came the last two years as both of us served as members of the committee developing the planned restoration of Old Main, to house a permanency center related to Diakon Adoption & Foster Care—in many ways the direct descendant of the children’s home—and offices for Diakon Ministry Support.

She was very excited about this planned rebirth of the iconic building that in many ways defines The Lutheran Home at Topton campus.

Another communications staff member and I met with Ginny early on in this process to determine the extent of the archives she managed. One issue at the time was that, a year or two before, the original book that contains the names of the children served at Topton had gone missing. While there were copies of those records, Ginny was upset over the loss of this artifact.

During our tour of one section of the archives that day, I asked Ginny to describe the book. As she finished her description, I happened to look over to one shelf and something quite similar to her description caught my eye. I asked, “What is that?”

Her eyes widened and began to gleam. It was the book.

Obviously, whoever had taken the book had returned it to that spot unannounced. While we really had no significant role in finding the book, I have to say it was very gratifying to know that our trip had resulted in returning it to Ginny’s safekeeping.

Our hearts were gladdened just by the look on Ginny’s face.

I wish Ginny had lived to see the Old Main project completed, to see the building refurbished and renovated and serving its original purpose anew. But perhaps it is enough that she knew the project was under way.

And as we work to preserve the history of The Lutheran Home at Topton in this project, I know many of us will think frequently of Ginny.

I know as well that her spirit will be right there with us.

By William Swanger
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications & Public Relations

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Life after retirement

Retirement.

What images or feelings come to mind when you hear that term? Is retirement something you anticipate? Or something you fear?

As with many topics, retiring means different things to different people. For some older adults, retirement means more freedom and the ability to focus on activities for which there was little time in the past. For others, however, retirement can sometimes represent a break with familiar ties and a resulting sense of isolation.

With these thoughts in mind, we asked some of the residents at Luther Crest, a Diakon senior living community in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to tell us a few things they learned about retirement and how their daily routines and life in general changed.

If there is one common thread, it’s the idea life is what you make it and that activities such as volunteering and taking up interests for which there was limited time in the past can be key to successful later years.

Seniors sharing compassion and creating connections

Even in retirement many people remain active in their communities, especially as volunteers. Our Diakon Senior Living Services campuses are home to many of these caring individuals. Two Twining Village residents offer their experiences on why they share their time and talents with others in need of compassion and connection…

I really had no background or training in volunteering when I came to Twining Village in May 2014, but I’ve been glad to be able to serve. I actually started as soon as I got here.

I visit the residents who have Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related illnesses and say the Rosary and the Our Father with them. But I don’t just say it and leave; I stay until I make contact. I touch their arms or look into their eyes. They may not be able to talk, but I’m sure many of them appreciate knowing they have someone there just for them.

Senior living Q&A

Should we move?

How can I possibly begin to downsize?

What will I do if my health declines?

As older adults consider options in retirement, they often have questions and concerns. One of the major questions concerns where they should live. We asked admissions staff at a variety of Diakon Senior Living Communities for their input on the topic. Here are their combined answers: